When Mariah Watson stepped onto the court as a senior Lady Bulldog, she was all business. She had to be after an ACL tear ended her junior season before it ever really began.
Her loss took away what was potentially the Lady Bulldogs’ biggest scoring threat. The team struggled without her presence on the hardwood and finished the season with just eight wins.
The resilient Watson bounced back and made her return during the 2016-17 season.
When she was on the court, she brought an explosiveness to the team’s game plan like few others could and she made every second count. She tore through defenses with superior handling and pulled up to make the tough shots that defenders could not seem to stop.
A multi-sport athlete at a young age, Watson chose to focus all of her attention and energy on basketball. The effort paid off as college coaches took notice and began efforts to draw her to their school.
Western Oklahoma State College Lady Pioneers basketball coach Eddie Broughton was one of those coaches.
“He wanted to sign me after high school ball and he had been telling me during my senior year that he wanted me to play for him,” Watson said. “Originally, I was planning on moving but I decided to stay and play here to save more money and I’m glad that I chose this option. I’m also glad he still wanted me to play for him. It honestly feels good that I’m going to be able to play college ball.”
It is no surprise that Broughton was able to draw Watson to Western. He has been making the necessary moves to bring talented players to the school since before the summer ever officially began and a lot of them have come because of what he is attempting to do with the program.
Watson is no exception.
“He works hard with his team to make them better players and I feel he encourages his team to be selfless and supportive of each other win or lose,” Watson said. “He also encourages us to be respectful on and off the court and to work hard not just in basketball but with education too and to make something out of yourself and be successful.”
Watson plans to continue doing all the right things to ensure her success at the next level. She has had plenty of experience working with coaches who expect the most out of their players as a former player of Stacie Terbush and Janice Hardwick, and so the transition will not be as difficult for her as it may be for others.
As a Lady Bulldog, Watson averaged 11 points per game throughout her career and did all she could to help make the teammates around her better players. Being a team player is one of the attributes about Watson that drew Broughton to her as he sets about establishing a team that can compete night in and night out.
Watson feels like she fits into the system well.
“I am a team player, I work hard and I don’t back down,” Watson said. “I like to be competitive and I don’t like to lose but I will work hard to correct my mistakes.”
Watson is set to join the Lady Pioneers as they push towards becoming one of the elite few programs in Region 2 in National Junior College Athletic Association’s Division I women’s basketball.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.