Angela Puleo is as decorated a high school player as Blount County has ever produced.
All-State, county scoring champion, AAU All-American, theres little the William Blount High senior hasnt done. The sweet-shooting guard was named a finalist for Miss Basketball on Monday. Last fall, the two-time district player of the year signed a national letter of intent with the University of Georgia.
It all served to make slipping out of a Lady Governor uniform for the last time less than a week ago all the more poignant. William Blount was eliminated from the District 4AAA tournament last weekend, ending hopes of a repeat title run.
"It was really hard," the future Lady Bulldog said, "a lot harder
than I expected it to be. It got further and further out of
reach. With every second that went by, you knew it was coming to an end. It was hard taking the jersey off for the last time in the locker room."
Puleo set school and county records for scoring in the full-court era of girls basketball not soon to be approached. The 5-foot-9 guards single-game and career records 46 and 2,500-plus points, respectively bear witness to the rarest of shooters.
In one of the more memorable postseason runs on record, Puleo uncorked a withering scoring spree to lead William Blount to its first district crown since 1989 last winter. Being named a finalist for Miss Basketball at the conclusion of her final campaign was almost a forgone conclusion.
"It felt good," she said. "It just felt like some of the hard work was paying off.
"Its pretty good for William Blount, too. It gives the girls program some exposure. Coach (Matt) Fowler has done a great job."
There are regrets, Puleo said.
"I wish I had the region game against Karns back," she said "I thought we had a chance to win that game."
Mostly, its the teammates shell leave behind shell miss most, she said.
"Theres nothing like high school basketball," the Miss Basketball candidate said.
Puleos nomination for the states top basketball award is the third for Blount County in four seasons. Current University of Tennessee freshman and former Heritage Lady Mountaineer Cait McMahan was twice named a finalist as a sophomore and junior.
Mr. and Miss Basketball finalist announced
The Mr. and Miss Basketball Awards will be presented to the top girls and boys in four classifications of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association prior to the state championship games for each class, respectively, next month.
The presentation of the Miss Basketball Awards for Division I Classes A, AA, and AAA will be given March 10 at the Murphy Center on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University. The presentation of the Mr. Basketball Awards for Division I, Classes A, AA, and AAA will be given during the boys state tournament March 17.
Miss Basketball finalist
Class A Abby Andrews, Collinwood; Kayla Hudson, Gleason; Laken Leonard, Red Boling Springs.
Class AA Gwen Delk, Jackson North Side; Kayci Ferriss, Smith County; Jana Roney, Obion Central.
Class AAA Angela Puleo, William Blount; Tierney Jenkins, Wilson Central, Anne Marie Lanning, Riverdale.
Division II Lauren Avant, Lausanne Collegiate; Victoria Dunlap, Brentwood Academy; Glory Johnson, Webb.
Mr. Basketball finalist
Class A M.J. Brown, Union City; Seth Skogen, Tennessee Temple; DeMario Williams, Culleoka.
Class AA Randy Culpepper, Stratford; Jewaun Long, Liberty; Gerald Robinson, MLK.
Class AAA Maurice Miller, Raleigh Egypt; Terrance Oglesby, Bradley Central; Antwaine Wiggins, Greeneville.
Division II Brandon Brown, Brentwood Academy; Leslie Donald, Briarcrest; Elliot Williams, St. Georges.