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It’s Columbus State for former Granger

By Kevin Eckleberry

kevin.eckleberry@lagrangenews.com

LAGRANGE – It was a magical season for the Columbus State women’s basketball team, which went 31-2 and made it to the elite eight of the NCAA tournament.

Shania Woodard, a recent LaGrange High graduate, is hoping to help the Cougars keep the good times rolling next season.

Woodard has signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Columbus State, and she’ll be a member of the team when the 2017-2018 season begins in November.

Woodard was an outstanding post player for LaGrange last season, and she helped the team finish second in the Region 5-AAAA tournament and reach the second round of the state tournament.

Now, Woodard is ready to spread her wings and continue playing the sport that means so much to her.

“It’s something I want to do for life,” Woodard said. “If I can go overseas and play, I want to do that, too. I wanted to travel and play ball.”

For now, Woodard said she’s grateful to have the chance to play in college.

“I’ll be going to school, getting an education while doing something that I love,” she said.

Woodard followed Columbus State closely for the past few seasons in part because her cousin Britteny Tatum was a four-year starter at guard for the Cougars.

Tatum, who also played at LaGrange High, had a fantastic career at Columbus State, and she was the team’s leading scorer in the season finale, a loss to Virginia Union in quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament.

When Woodard was considering Columbus State, she talked at length with Tatum and received some helpful advice.

“I went up there the week before finals, and we had a conversation,” Woodard said. “She said just play hard, and do what you’ve got to do. She was just giving me pointers, like be on time. That’s big. And just do your best.”

Woodard explored some other options, and she was intrigued by Tuskegee University, but she decided Columbus State was the place for her, especially when she found out she’d receive some financial support.

Woodard will be attending Columbus State on a partial athletic scholarship.

“About three weeks ago, they said they wouldn’t be able to offer a full one, but I thought a scholarship’s a scholarship,” Woodard said. “So it’s paying for something. And I still have the Pell Grant and the Hope Scholarship, so that’ll be good.”

Woodard leaves behind some big shoes to fill at LaGrange.

While Aryan Dozier and Chnaireia Strozier were getting it done at the guard position, Woodard was doing a phenomenal job of holding things down in the post.

“My guards have to rebound more now without her,” said LaGrange High head coach Stephen Tuck. “I watched game film, and at times she was down there by herself, and they were waiting on the wing.”

Tuck is thrilled to see Woodard get this opportunity.

“I’m tremendously proud,” Tuck said. “She’s a really good girl, with a good heart.”