Angela Puleo took William Blount High School on a spectacular ride through the district basketball tournament two years ago.
Why it happened, former Lady Governor Laura Wallace said, is as fundamental as a layup.
“Her love of the game makes everybody love the game,” she said.
Puleo’s performances that week, during which William Blount knocked off four higher seeded teams en route to the district crown, came during a season where the former Lady Governor star left few county scoring records untouched. The records the current University of Georgia sophomore didn’t break would fall the next season.
In fitting tribute, William Blount retired the jersey number of the Blount County scoring champion during ceremonies between games at the school’s Marvin Boring Gymnasium last Friday.
“Angela Puleo’s uniform No. 32 is now officially retired,” William Blount coach Matt Fowler said.
A former Class AAA Miss Basketball finalist, Puleo set the Blount County single-game scoring record in the full-court era with a 46-point effort against Alcoa in 2007. By the close of her senior season the following year, the Lady Bulldog shooting guard had taken possession of the county career mark as well, finishing four impressive seasons with a county-record 2,650 points.
Her junior and senior season, Puleo was named the Knoxville News Sentinel PrepXtra Player of the Year and the Blount County Player of the year, along with twice receiving All-State honors. Over the course of her career, the former Lady Governor knocked down 301 3-point field goals.
Perhaps most telling, Puleo attempted 12 shots during her William Blount career where the game’s outcome depended on whether she missed or made the shot. She hit 11 of them.
The 2006 District 4AAA Tournament said it all when it comes to Puleo, a torrid burst where the Lady Governor shooter powered William Blount past a strong field to the title averaging 38.5 points per game over four contests. She pumped in 38 in the championship game win over Heritage en route to being named the tournament’s most valuable player.
Puleo’s defining trait is how competitive she is, Fowler said.
“The first thing that pops into my head about Angela is she’s the only player I’ve ever had who’s more stubborn than I am,” Fowler said.
Leading her Lady Governor teammates to the district title that junior season was a big reason why. With William Blount entering the tournament with few giving them much of a chance of winning it all, taking no for an answer was not an option.
“None of this would be possible if it weren’t for them,” Puleo said.