It’s often been said that there’s a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
At the end of the trail of trophies in front of Christa Pickens Monday afternoon, was something worth just as much as a pot of gold: a National Letter of Intent to play college basketball.
In front of her family, friends, teammates and a standing room only crowd of her classmates, the three-year Lady Tiger basketball standout officially signed her name on the dotted line. Pickens will be moving on to play for the Connors State College Cowgirls in Warner, Oklahoma.
Ardmore coach Debra Manley had nothing but praise for her senior standout on her special day, but admitted the moment was slightly bittersweet.
“We hate to lose her as a player that’s for sure,” Manley said. “At the same time, we’re extremely excited to see her be able to continue her athletic career, and get a good education at the same time, which is the most important thing in all of this.”
“She’s (Christa) always had a lot of heart and hustle on the court,” Manley added. “You never had to worry about her giving it her all when she was out there. She’s been a fantastic role model for the younger girls and just been a blessing to have on this team.”
Pickens will be joining a Cowgirl squad which went 19-10 last season, winning their first 10 games of the season. Connors State College fell in the first round of the NJCAA Region II region tournament at St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee by a score of 70-63.
However winning and Pickens have gone hand-in-hand during her high school career.
During her time as a Lady Tiger, Ardmore won three regional championships, and finished as state runner-up this past season, earning a 20-6 overall record. In total, Pickens made two trips to the state tournament with the first coming in the 2013-14 season, when she averaged 13.4 points per game.
Pickens was also named as an Honorable Mention selection this season on The Oklahoman’s All-State Basketball team, where she averaged 9.5 points per game.
“This is what I’ve worked for all these years going up and down the highway with my coaches,” Pickens said. “I was so glad everyone could come to this because sometimes it’s hard to get everyone here for something like this. My freshman year I came up as an eighth grader, so I’ve always been motivated in the classroom to succeed and on the court as well.”
Pickens added that it wasn’t just the campus of Connors State which influenced her decision, it was the colors of the school.
“The orange and black is what really influenced me,” she said. “I want to ultimately go to Oklahoma State and play basketball there so this is a good start for me. To my teammates I’d tell them to keep working hard and make sure next season you bring home the gold ball.”