E.A. Sports Today

Boyd joins Lady Bisons

Versatile Cleburne County senior fulfills a long-time dream, extends a family legacy by signing with Southern Union

Cleburne County senior Shawntavia Boyd (seated) goes over some details with Southern Union coach LeMont Herring before signing with the Lady Bisons Thursday. On the cover, Boyd sits with her current and future coaches.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

HEFLIN – When Shawntavia Boyd was a fifth-grade manager for the Cleburne County girls basketball team she aspired to be just like the players she was handing water and towels to, playing the game they loved and going on to the next level.

That dream became a reality for the Cleburne County senior guard Thursday as she signed to play college basketball for Southern Union.

“I looked up to them,” Boyd recalled. “I thought about that a lot, just thinking they could go somewhere so I know I could go somewhere and make everybody happy just like they make everyone happy.”

Boyd has been playing basketball since the seventh grade. The idea of “being up there” with the varsity really took root one night while she was serving as manager.

The Lady Tigers weren’t playing well on this particular night — maybe it was against Lincoln, she tried to recall — and then coach Bronson Ward, trying to get his players’ attention, planted the seed that Boyd could actually be of help.

“It was my favorite varsity team,” she said. “They weren’t playing good and the head coach was like, ‘You want to go out there and put a uniform on?’ I was scared. I was like, ‘I wish I could.’ I didn’t know what to say.”

It would be a couple years before that actually happened, but current coach Todd Gable recognized good early and pulled her up to the varsity as an eighth grader. She has been fixture ever since.

In eight games this year for the undefeated 10th-ranked Lady Tigers she has played all five positions on the floor, averaged 11.3 points and 4.8 rebounds, shot 40 percent from 3-point range and collected 23 steals, 14 assists and three charges.

“These are the moments that make coaching great,” Gable said “I have coached this kid hard for many years and she was physically and mentally tough enough to handle injury and tough love and tough coaching. She just loves basketball.”

Boyd’s dream of playing any kind of basketball almost got derailed prior to her sophomore year when she dislocated her left knee and underwent reconstructive surgery. But that’s where the grit that has made her a fan favorite came to the fore – and it “played a lot” into Lady Bisons coach LeMont Herring signing her.

Doctors told Boyd after the surgery she wouldn’t be able to play the rest of the year, but instead of just accepting that assessment and using the year to recover, Boyd pushed her rehab to the point she was back in the lineup by the middle of the season.

“I’m getting a complete guard from the standpoint that she has a frame that fits a college guard,” Herring said. “You categorize players as scorers and shooters; a shooter can stand out there and shoot it, a scorer can get it to the rim. Shawntavia can make open shots from the outside if you leave here open, but she has a first step that she can get the ball to the rim.

“You try to look at my level are they good high school players or can they be good college players as well. She has a couple more gears she can crank it and play at the next level. She’s no different than any freshman in America, she has some things they have to work on and she has that will to be developed. She brings something to the table we’ve kind of been looking for.”

Boyd had looks from AUM and Huntingdon, but chose Southern Union to gain more seasoning before choosing a four-year school. Actually, her signing with the Lady Bisons extends a family legacy. Her great uncle, Terry Boyd, is a former All-America player for the Southern Union men’s team who went on to play at Western Carolina and briefly the CBA.

“I really just wanted to keep playing ball, support my family, help them out,” Shawntavia said. “I want to be a great All-American, get to the next level.”

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