Monday marked the end of another great New Haven basketball player’s career, as Tanaya Atkinson saw her time at Career come to a close in a 48-43 Class LL quarterfinal loss to Mercy.
“We kind of lost our heads a little bit,” Atkinson said of the loss. “We weren’t in control and it showed.”
The Panthers blew a second half double digit lead in the loss. However, Atkinson could only say positive things about her teammates.
“I told them I loved them all, we’ve played a tough season,” Atkinson said. “But at the end of the day, you’ve got to give it to Mercy. They worked harder than us.”
And if anyone knows hard work, it’s the Temple University-bound senior. Atkinson was named All-Area MVP last season, and made All-State, after posting averages of 20.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. She also led her team to a Southern Connecticut Conference title and scored her 1,000th career point as a junior.
As a senior, she did not miss a beat, averaging an area best 23.2 points per game and making the All-SCC Oronoque Division team.
She even took home the conference’s highest honor for a player: the MVP award.
“I played a good year,” she said. “’ll be remembered, I guess.”
Her coach, Steve Bethke, will remember her for different reasons.
“I think highly of her as a person,” he said. “And that’s more important than what she is as a basketball player.”
He said he and Atkinson have talked about what the forward can expect when she heads off to college. Bethke said he knows his star forward can handle Division I basketball.
“She’s going to have to keep honing her skills, ball hanlding and shooting,” he said. “But she’s a tremendous athlete and a tremendous kid.”
For now however, Atkinson is just content in looking back on the fun she had playing with her close friends at Career High.
“It’s a family atmosphere (at Career),” Atkinson said. “I’ve felt at home, going to my teammate’s houses, eating their food and just doing everything.”