Sarah Larson has done it all

by John Ring

Sarah Larson had done it all.

She held the record for most points in a game, most points in a career and had led her team to a four-year record of 123-16.

But when Sarah Larson hit a jump shot to defeat Loyola in the quarterfinals of the 1999 Class AA Tournament, she joined The Elite of Silver Streak basketball.

From now on, when you talk about Bumpy Nixon, Dale Kelley and Joey Range, you'd better add Sarah Larson to your Streak vocabulary of historic names.

Sarah flat-out dominated this tournament, the same way Kelley did in 1966. Not bad for the most unrecruited high school player in Illinois. And Coach Evan Massey took advantage of the opportunity provided to him in a press conference after the Loyola game to take a few shots in defense of his senior star.

"It's very satisfying for me to see Sarah do so well here," said Massey. " I like it when a good kid is rewarded for hard work even though most colleges don't seem to know she exists."

You can sure understand why colleges like Illinois State and Bradley­­ not to be confused with powerhouses like Tennessee and U Conn­­ have never even so much as sent Sarah a letter. Right?

She's a good student. She comes from a good family. She plays in a widely respected high school basketball program.

And on top of that, Sarah Larson is a good person.

Go figure it out. I sure can't.

During an interview before this season started, I asked Sarah about what college she would like to go to. When she told me that no one had really contacted her, I was stunned.

As a raw freshman, Sarah opened some eyes when she grabbed a record 20 rebounds in a Galesburg win over East Moline. But she fell on some hard times later that year, as most freshmen do. She never had the benefit of playing freshman or sophomore ball. She learned on the job, the hard way.

Larson started as a sophomore and got better with experience. She was a vital part of the 34-2 team that finished 4th in the State Tournament.

And when Molly Watson graduated after that season, many fans wondered who would replace her. Little did they know that she was already on the roster, wearing #54.

At crunch time, the ball would go to Sarah and she delivered. Time after time after time. Larson would fake, pivot, spin, do anything to get a shot off, draw a foul or score.

No, she wasn't the fastest player, the tallest player or the most athletic player at Redbird Arena. She just got the job done. It was as simple as that.

Like Watson before her, Galesburg basketball fans love Sarah Larson. Galesburg kids adore her.

She's a typical Evan Massey player that doesn't gloat, doesn't brag and doesn't talk trash.

After Galesburg's loss to Marshall, Sarah Larson walked off the court in a Streaks uniform for the last time. She played her heart out, scored 20 points and would wear #54 no more.

"I was doing all right," said Sarah's mother, Linda Larson "until she waved good-bye to the crowd. That's when I lost it."

The Silver Streaks have lost another impact player­­ another Watson, another Henderson, another Crisman.

You have to hope that Galesburg's loss will be some college's gain.

They can't lose having Sarah Larson on their roster. The Silver Streaks seldom did.

Posted to Zephyr Online March 14, 1999
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