Hannah White has 21 points (11-for-18 from the free-throw line) Saturday in the Columbus High School girls basketball team’s 42-30 victory against New Hope High. Photo by: David Miller/Special to The Dispatch
January 16, 2018 10:23:08 AM
Hannah White didn't know what to think.
A phone call from your coach in the middle of the school day usually doesn't mean good news, so White had a touch of anxiety when she started her conversation with Columbus High School girls basketball coach Yvonne Hairston.
That's when White received a warning: She was asked not to scream.
Suddenly, anxiety turned to anticipation.
Moments later, Hairston's admonition quickly went out the window when White let out a shriek of delight. Fortunately, White wasn't in her English class or she might have been sent to the principal's office for creating a disturbance in class. The timing worked out perfectly, though, because White was in the bathroom when she received the news she had been named to the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) North/South All-Star Game.
"I just screamed and I was crying and I fell to my knees," White said. "I said, 'Thank you, Lord.' I was so happy because I never imagined that would happen."
The phone call on Jan. 10 signaled the next step in the progression of the one of the state of Mississippi's most promising players. On Saturday, White built on that honor by scoring a game-high 21 points in a 42-30 victory against New Hope.
For her accomplishments, White is The Dispatch's Prep Player of the Week.
"For a little while, I was getting discouraged because I felt like nobody really noticed my talent, but I knew something had to happen," White said. "I didn't know it was going to happen like this."
White and Starkville High junior guard Jalisa Outlaw will represent their schools on the 12-player North roster for the annual MAC North/South All-Star Game. The girls game will be at 6 p.m. Friday, March 23, at Mississippi College's A.E. Wood Coliseum in Clinton.
White's selection comes in the middle of a solid season for the Lady Falcons (12-5) in which she is averaging more than 20 points and seven rebounds per game. White had one of her best games of the season Jan. 5 in a 48-47 loss to South Panola in the team's Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 6A, District 2 opener.
Hairston said White has played a key leadership role on a young team that is learning how to come together. She said White also is learning how to handle plenty of defensive attention that comes with being one of her team's most talented players. Hairston said White has matured this season and is doing a better job controlling her emotions.
"She is very deserving," Hairston said of the All-Star selection. "I get kind of mad with Hannah because I don't think she realizes the kind of player she is or could be. Sometimes I see her out on the court and there is so much more she can do."
Hairston said she has had to caution herself because she has continued to fuss at White even when she has had big scoring games. She said she is merely trying to get the best out of her junior guard, but she admitted she sometimes doesn't see every good thing White does.
"I think she is playing well, but my expectations for her are so high," Hairston said. "I see how much more she can do. ... I push her because I see her potential. I feel she is a Division I player and I don't want her to get overlooked."
White admits playing with poise has been an issue for her because she is hard on herself and hates making mistakes. Still, she said she is learning to calm down and to leave errors in the past so they don't multiply and force her to lose focus.
"I put a lot of time in the gym to develop into the player I am today," White said. "I think it is more of a learning season more than anything because I score a lot of points and I get a lot of rebounds, but there is still a lot of stuff I have to work on because coach is always on me about the things I do wrong."
White said she used to cry so much on the court. Now, though, she said she is trying not to show emotion. In fact, she feels she has grown into a player who doesn't need anything to soothe her worries.
After being named an All-Star, White feels her confidence will increase because she has tangible evidence people believe in her. She said that will push her to work even harder to grow as a leader and as a player.
"My teammates really believe in me," White said. "I know I have to be strong. We are a young team. We just have to learn how to play.
"We just have to keep pushing ourselves to be great."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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