“The complete package.”
Those were the words former Science Hill girls basketball coach Darrell Barnwell used to describe the Lady Hilltoppers’ Tianna Tarter.
Tarter, a junior, averaged 14.5 points, 4.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game this past season for Science Hill, which for the second year in a row advanced to the TSSAA Class AAA championship game.
For her outstanding performance, Tarter was selected the Times-News Elite player of the year for Northeast Tennessee.
This was also the second straight season that Tarter earned a berth on the Times-News Elite team.
“Tianna is one of those rare talents that coaches get the good fortune to coach in their career,” said Barnwell, who stepped down recently after eight seasons and 218 wins as the Lady Hilltoppers’ coach.
“She did such a great job running our system. She always seemed to be able to get the ball in the hands of the right player at the right time.”
Tarter can play every position on the floor. She is an outstanding ball-handler and averaged better than 37 percent from the 3-point line.
But she is at her best when she attacks the basket.
The past three seasons, the Lady Hilltoppers have gone 106-9 and won 39 straight Big 8 Conference games.
That record is all the more impressive considering the Lady ’Toppers have played a non-conference schedule that included several nationally ranked teams.
“Tianna was always ready to step up, especially when we played those national teams,” Barnwell said. “She really looked forward to the challenge.”
A true basketball player, Tarter’s command of the game was evident to everyone who saw her play.
Even in the Science Hill system that had so many good players, she stood out.
“There were times when Tianna could take over a game,” Barnwell, “but she was so unselfish. She knew that for us to be successful, she had to get everyone involved.”
While always a threat to score, Barnwell was quick to note Tarter’s prowess on the defensive end of the floor.
“She was one of our best defenders,” he said. “On both ends of the floor, Tianna gave us her best effort.”
Offensive dynamo, defensive stalwart, team player.
“That’s what makes her so special,” Barnwell said. “She truly is a complete package on the basketball court.”