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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Tiffany Gooden Award winner Carissa Garcia, left, of Concordia poses with Gooden during Wednesday's awards ceremony at the Parkview Mirro Center for Research & Innovation.

Thursday, April 18, 2019 1:00 am

Gooden goes to Cadets' star

Garcia 1st from school to win basketball award

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

On Wednesday night senior Carissa Garcia became the first Concordia athlete to win the Tiffany Gooden award, which is presented each year to the most outstanding basketball player in the SAC.

“It means a lot, just to be able to bring that to my school and my teammates and coaches,” Garcia said after the 2019 Basketball Awards, which were held at the Parkview Mirro Center. “It's bigger than me.”

Garcia became the Concordia girls' all-time leading scorer in a win over Bishop Dwenger in December, and finsihed her career with 1,529 points. 

She averaged 19.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.1 steals during her senior season as the Cadets went 17-7. She was named to the IBCA Senior All-State Supreme 15 and the IBCA Academic All-State first team.

“Obviously I'll remember all these accolades, I have physical proof of them,” Garcia said, looking down at her trophy. “But just the memories of being with my friends and my teammates, having them be my sisters, that's probably my favorite part.”

Tiffany Gooden, whom the award is named after and who was the first recipient in 1994, said she was impressed by Garcia's confidence and leadership on the court. 

“No moment was really too big for her, and she made her teammates better,” said the former Snider star who was Miss Basketball and the Naismith and Parade National Player of the Year. “The impact you make on the court in key moments of the game, and the impact you leave on your team is really important.”

Snider junior Dillon Duff and Wayne senior Craig Young were the other finalists for the award, which is chosen by Gooden and The Journal Gazette's sports staff. Gooden complimented Young as one of the most remarkable athletes she had seen in Fort Wayne and noted him improved jump shot. She saidDuff was a key leader for a young Snider team this season. 

Concordia won sectional titles during Garcia's freshman, sophomore and junior seasons, and lost to Angola in the sectional finals this season. She said winning those sectional titles were probably the highlights of her high- school career.

“We obviously never got to go to the regional and win, but I can still remember the feelings of when that final buzzer goes off and you win sectionals, it's a great moment for you and your teammates,” Garcia said. 

Garcia has committed to play basketball at Northern Kentucky next season. She said she would advise theher younger teammates and opposing players she leaves behind to continue working hard in the gym.

“There's tough times, very tough times when you might want to give up or quit, but just don't stop working hard,” Garcia said. “Stay focused and stay on the right path and put yourself around people who want to see you succeed.”

Also on Wednesday, Homestead's Rod Parker was named girls coach of the year after his Spartans went 25-5, won the SAC Holiday Tournament, regular-season title and reached the regional final.

Homestead boys coach Chris Johnson also won coach of the year after his team went 21-3, won the SAC Holiday Tournament and a share of the regular-season title with Northrop and Carroll.