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Junior cited as Lady Lions' Champion of Character

Tough season reveals strengths in "High Sierra"

WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The 2012-13 women’s basketball season at Southwestern Assemblies of God University appeared to be filled with answers and only a few questions.

The loss of two starters on the baseline before the first game changed all that. It put a lot of pressure on a backcourt that was greener than Kermit.

Nia Winston (Garland, Tx / Panola JuCo, Lakeview Centennial HS) would be counted on to shoulder much of the load. Until she was felled to injury minutes into the team’s eighth game.

That left youthful guards who were as 'young as the morning' on a team that played all night games.

The frontcourt lacked both Jirah Rodriguez (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS) and Shaquita Roberts (San Antonio, Tx / Byron Steele HS).

Thin as a vegetarian’s cat, SAGU needed players to rise to the occasion.

Several did, including feisty freshman point-guard Taylor Hill (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS), who led the team in scoring at 11.3 points per game, tied for 20th in the Red River Athletic Conference. Three times she poured in over 20 points in a game and her 82 assists averaged 2.7 per game.

Reaching double-figures 17 times in 30 games earned her a place on the All-Conference Second Team. She was SAGU’s lone representative to receive All-RRAC post-season honors.

Down the stretch, however, Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS) began to emerge.

The 6-foot junior battled through a chronic should injury and another to her leg that limited her mobility.

Yet she finished the season with a 7.6 points per game scoring average, finishing second on the team in points scored. By grabbing almost 13 rebounds per outing in the final four games, she had a 7.3 norm for the year, also second on the squad.

Hankins led the team in offensive rebounds, had the highest shooting percentage (.523) on the squad and was tops in blocking shots.

Her .776 free throw percentage was third best.

What she brought to the floor was much more than stats. Hankins brought a toughness the squad lacked in the middle, and she supplied leadership – verbally and by example - essentials the team needed.

The RRAC released both the 2012-13 All-Conference teams – Hill was the Purple Pride’s lone selection, besides the Champions of Character All-RRAC team.

Hankins was the Lady Lions’ choice as their delegate on the squad.

Her uprightness and attitude were exemplary on a team needing a rudder.

“Sierra is a very dependable and loving person,” said Arlon Beadles, the team’s Head Coach. “She drove (50 miles) to Garland (northeast of Dallas) each Sunday to teach children at The Foundry Church.”

“She loves children and is a great role model for them to follow,” he added.

By the end of the season the well-spoken Hankins had solidified the team’s interior with steady performances. She scored in double-digits 11 times, including a 29-point outburst in a conference road game.

At the recent SAGU Athletic Awards Ceremony, few were surprised who was announced as the Lady Lions’ Most Valuable Player.

Hankins, from the tiny town in northeast Oklahoma, Welch (602 pop.), played big down the stretch. She refused to back down when facing taller, more physical foes.

She found her faith and inner grit was also up to the task late in the softball season (she also played first base for SAGU) when she suffered to loss of an immediate family member.

Like the name of the church she serves, she has proven her metal - and her mettle – to be as strong as steel.

Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, SAGU Sports Information Director, at or at 469-658-2847.

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