Catching a wave

Staff Writer
Midlothian Mirror
Midlothian High School’s Kierra Middleton blows by a pair of Ennis defenders during a February 2019 game. Middleton, whose junior season was cut short by an ACL tear last November, has verbally committed to play college basketball at Tulane University. [Mirror file photo]

The ultimate misfortune for an athlete befell Midlothian High School star basketball player Kierra Middleton just four games into her junior season. But after six months of rehabilitation, Middleton is looking forward to a defined future.

Last week, Middleton announced her verbal commitment to play women’s college basketball for the Tulane University Green Wave.

“When I tore my ACL, for the first time I had doubts about my basketball future,” Middleton said. “Yet, throughout my situation there has been one school that did not stop recruiting me. This is why I would like to announce that I will be furthering my academic and athletic career at Tulane University.”

Middleton thanked a lot of people, including her AAU coaches, MHS head girls’ basketball coach Amy Tennison, her grandfather for coming to all the games, her sister for being the best role model, and her mother for communicating ways for her to improve her game.

“Lastly, I want to thank one of the best basketball coaches I have ever encountered … my dad,” she said. “He shaped me into the player I am today. We have spent countless hours training in the gym but we still have a lot of work to do. This is just the beginning.”

Kierra’s dad, Steve, is head boys’ basketball coach at MHS.

Kierra Middleton was an All-Ellis County Player of the Year finalist in 2019 as a sophomore, and was averaging 26.3 points a game at the beginning of her junior year when she was lost for the season.

But with Middleton on the sidelines, the remaining Lady Panthers regrouped under coach Tennison, and players such as Jerica Henderson, Maykayla Jackson and Kadia Ward took the mantle in Middleton’s absence.

Entering the new year with a .500 record, MHS won 13 of its next 14 games to finish as District 14-5A runner-up and advanced all the way to the Class 5A Region II championship game, where the Lady Panthers were finally vanquished by eventual 5A state champion Frisco Liberty, 48-43 — but not after a four-quarter battle and three overtime periods. The Lady Panthers finished at 25-14.