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GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Crook signs letter of intent - Odessa American: Sports

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GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Crook signs letter of intent

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Posted: Friday, February 1, 2019 7:52 pm

GRANDFALLS It has taken a village to raise this child.

For Ariana Crook, the entire Grandfalls-Royalty community has embraced and supported her for her entire career at the high school.

Crook turned a dream into reality as she signed her national letter of intent in front of friends, teammates and the entire student body to play basketball at Neosho County Community College in Chanute, Kan., during a ceremony at the Grandfalls-Royalty ISD gymnasium.

Crook attended Lake Worth, northwest of Fort Worth, before moving to the Permian Basin and starting on the Cowgirls basketball team for three years.

She initially moved to Grandfalls to live with her mother, but when that didn’t work out head coach Matthew Hoover and members of the teaching staff took her in as one of their own.

“It’s nice, especially when coming from my background you don’t have the best support, but just having people there is beneficial,” Crook said. “I wanted to live with my mom. I’ve never lived with her and I got here and then that didn’t work out.

“Coach Hoover and the teachers here ended up taking me in and they’ve led me on my way.”

Crook, the lone senior on this year’s team, averages 19.2 points per game.

And, a 6-feet tall, she leads her team in rebounding and blocks.

Crook tallied a double-double in a 57-21 defeat of Sanderson on Jan. 11 where she had 21 points and grabbed 11 offensive rebounds.

On Jan. 22 against Buena Vista, she recorded 20 points, 16 rebounds, three steals and three blocks in a close 43-40 loss.

Last season she led the Cowgirls to a 21-11 overall record and an appearance in the Class 1A area round, which was a big leap forward after the previous season where Grandfalls-Royalty was eliminated by Sierra Blanca in the bi-district round.

Crook became the first girls basketball player to sign a letter of intent under Hoover, who has been coaching at the school for the last six years.

“It’s the first in a long time. We’ve had some volleyball players in the past sign and some track girls, but historically basketball hasn’t been strong,” Hoover said. “The last few years these girls have really bought in and they’ve kind of taken off, and we’ve kind of changed the culture around here.

“She’s kind of that by-product of that culture. In a sense she is the first one, especially for us. It’s been a long journey with her.”

Students young and old caught a glimpse of Crook when she put the pen to the paper and signed away.

In that moment she had paved the way for the future student-athletes in Grandfalls by proving that anyone can make their dreams come true if they work at it.

“It’s like super important to me just moving forward showing all these little kids that you can do it,” Crook said. “Just because you’re from Grandfalls you can do it.

“Seeing someone else do it reassures them that they can do it.”

Grandfalls-Royalty is currently 14-6 overall and it has big aspirations to make an even deeper run in the playoffs.

A lot of its success could not have been possible if it wasn’t for Crook and the work ethic of the entire program.

“That’s what you do it for as a coach to give them the opportunities to go forth and accomplish their goals, accomplish their dreams,” Hoover said. “She draws double teams, triple teams, sometimes the whole team will be on her.

“She’s a catalyst to everything we do. She’s a 6-foot girl in 1A that can play inside, outside. She’s very impressive for where she’s come to where she’s going.”

One dream was made, but the road doesn’t end here for Crook. She has bigger aspirations and the sky is the limit for her.

“I hope I go D-I one day. I hope to bring something back here just to let them know I appreciate everything that they’ve done for me,” she said.

>> Follow Peter Dindinger on Twitter @OA_PDindinger

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