Tavia Rooney
John Smith, for the Independent Record

Townsend sophomore Tavia Rooney recently completed one of the greatest seasons in Lady Bulldog basketball history.

The 5-foot-10 post player averaged a double-double, while leading her team in no less than nine categories. Rooney paced the squad with averages of 18.6 points per game, 12 rebounds, 4.6 steals, 3.3 blocks, 3 assists, 81 free throws made, and a 79 percent accuracy from the charity stripe.

Her best games were a 28-point scoring output versus Big Timber, and a 24-rebound effort against Deer Lodge.

Rooney led Townsend to a third-place trophy at the District 5B Tournament and a 17-4 overall record. She became the school’s first sophomore to be selected Class B All-State in 14 years, since Josie Evans earned the award in 2003, and was chosen to play in the HIT tourney.

Now, Rooney has been named the Independent Record’s 2017 Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

“It’s an absolute honor to be selected, and to see that my hard work on and off the court has paid off,” Rooney said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to play with some amazing girls throughout my basketball career so far, with future years to look forward to.

“I couldn’t have done it without my amazing teammates who helped me and pushed me to get where I am today.”

Townsend coach Dan Hazlett, who referred to his star cager as “a human highlight reel,” said that most of Rooney’s success is a result of her tireless work ethic.

“Tavia is an extremely hard worker and has put in a lot of time in the off season,” he said. “She’s also one of the most coachable players I’ve ever been around; she’s always listening and asking questions. I know that her teammates love to play with her. She’ll always give 100 percent and she truly enjoys when her teammates are successful.

“She will do whatever it takes to win, and play whatever role she needs to play for us. Tavia is definitely one of the ‘Glue Girls’ that holds our team together.”

One of those teammates is junior all-conference guard Catie Watson.

“I think Tavia’s ability to score and take it to the hoop is her greatest attribute to the team, as well as pulling down the majority of our rebounds,” said Watson. “She can handle the ball well, and is just a great all-around player for our team.”

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Baylee Watson, a former two-time All-Stater for Townsend who recently concluded a fine collegiate career at Carroll, described the young Rooney as “one of the most athletic girls” she’s seen come out of her hometown.

“I’ve only watched Tavia play a handful of times, but she has an attack mindset and is constantly looking for the ball,” recalled Baylee, who led the Lady Bulldogs to a State B runner-up trophy in 2013.

Rooney described how her parents, Brian and Janine Rooney, have had the most influence on her athletics.

“They’ve always pushed me to work my best and have always made sure I got involved in as many opportunities as I can get,” said the BCHS standout, who was also selected to the IR Volleyball Super Team last fall. “They preached that effort is all it takes, and that as long as I did my best and gave it my all that I walk off the court happy.

“But as one of my coaches growing up always said, 'Be happy, but never satisfied,' which has always stuck with me. I’ve always had a love for the game and I believe it can only get stronger from here on out.”

Baylee concurred, stating, “I feel that Tavia will make a great driver and a slasher in the paint, and she has quickness and length that allows her to shine as a basketball player. And I think she could easily take her talents to the next level if she wanted to.”

Curt Synness is on Twitter @curtsynness_IR and can be reached at curt52s@gmail.com

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Sports Reporter

Sports Reporter for the Independent Record

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