Laquita Hart ended the game on crutches, but only after King High’s girls’ basketball team leaned on her for a team-high 17 points in a 54-53 victory against Pershing that advanced the Lady Crusaders into the Class A state quarterfinals.
“She’s a warrior,” Coach William Winfield said of his 5-5 junior guard, the Detroit Public School League Proud Strong Learner of the Week. “She’s been taking big shots for us all year long. We wouldn’t have gotten this far without her.”
King’s regional championship victory Thursday moved it just three wins away from its first state championship since 2006. The Lady Crusaders (22-3) play Inkster (19-4) in the quarterfinals Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the University of Detroit Mercy’s Calihan Hall.
Hart, despite sustaining an ankle sprain, vows to be back in her role as the first player off the bench.
“My ankle is kind of swollen, but I’m going to get in the pool and work on it,’’ she said. “I’m going to get it going, that’s for sure. I’ll be ready to do whatever it takes to lead my team to a championship.”
In winning the regional tournament at Warren Cousino High, the Lady Crusaders beat Pershing for the second time in three meetings this season, including a victory in the PSL championship game.
“It’s the biggest game of the year every time we play them and there’s a lot of competition,” Hart said. “But we showed we’re the better team. We deserved to win.”
With just one senior starter, the Lady Crusaders plan to be as strong as ever next season. Hart figures prominently in their future.
“She just came on like a storm this year,” Winfield said. “Last year, she was just sitting on the bench, but this year she decided to play. She told me she was going to hit the big shots for me and that’s what she’s done. I never start her. But when I look down the bench, she looks me in the eye and she knows it’s time to go to work. Like I said, she’s a warrior. I have nothing but praises for her.”
With a 3.2 grade point average, Hart says her favorite school subject is English. “I love to read,’’ she says. “I read all day.”
Affectionately called “Q” by her teammates, Hart aspires to earn a college scholarship and hopes for an opportunity to play professionally in the WNBA.
“I just want to get my family out of here and be the first to actually do something with my life,’’ she said.
The Detroit Public School League Proud Strong Learner of the Week Award is representative of the league’s top boys’ and girls’ athletic performers and is sponsored by local Detroit area McDonald’s owner-operators