When Scottsboro senior Emily Garner watched Freed-Hardeman play basketball, she found an element that also existed where she played high school basketball.
“We play as a team at Scottsboro,” said Garner, a three-year varsity player at SHS. “I’ve watched (Freed-Hardeman) play multiple times, and they always play as a team, always play together. I think that’s going to help me coming from this program at Scottsboro.”
Garner officially became a part of the Freed-Hardeman University women’s basketball program on Wednesday, signing scholarship papers with the NAIA school in Henderson, Tennessee.
“Out of all the visits I had, I felt at home there the most. Loved the coaches, the players, the campus, all of it was just great,” Garner said. “Freed just felt like the best (place) for me.”
Garner chose Freed-Hardeman over Shorter University, Hiwassee College, Trevecca Nazarene University and Faulkner University.
Garner got some inside information about Freed-Hardeman from her brother Spencer, who played for the Lions after his high school career at Scottsboro.
“I think (that) did (impact the decision), just me being up there a lot and knowing the campus,” she said. “The students that are there are good students, the teachers really care about the students. (Spencer) talking to me about that stuff really made me love it even more.”
Freed-Hardeman went 34-3 this past season. The Lions won the American Midwest Conference championship and advanced to the NAIA National Semifinals before falling 78-71 in overtime to eventual national champion Montana-Western.
Freed-Hardeman assistant coach Brittany Cavender said Garner’s “shooting abilities and leadership qualities” made a her a great fit for the program.
Scottsboro head coach Brandon Childers said Freed-Hardeman was “lucky to get a kid like” Garner.
“She’s a competitor on the basketball court and in the classroom,” Childers said. “She has a great mind for the game and understands it. She’s a great shoot, shoots a high percentage that would help anybody.”
Garner helped Scottsboro go 52-15 with two area championships, a Northeast Regional championship, two Northeast Regional finals appearances and a berth in the 2017-18 Class 5A State Final Four, which was the program’s first state tournament appearance in 40 years.
Garner set a program record with 186 career 3-pointers. She averaged 13 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 2.2 steals per game this past season.
“These past two years were awesome,” Garner said. “It’s been awesome ride. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”