KINGWOOD — On Jan. 25, when the final buzzer rang at Preston High, Knights’ seniors Makenzie Friend, Kirsten Brown and Taylor Mayne smiled — PHS had earned an 83-37 victory over Liberty, putting a cap on a successful senior night.
Earlier in the evening, the three seniors were honored at halftime, and were given standing ovations as they exited the game one at a time in the fourth quarter.
“It was really fun,” Brown said. “At halftime, our senior night was great, all the gifts our younger teammates gave us and the crowd cheering us on.”
The moment was bittersweet for the girls though, as the night represented what is often the toughest moment in an athlete’s life – the realization that their career will soon be coming to an end.
“It’s the moment every senior looks forward to, but it’s sad at the same time,” said Friend, who became the first 1,000 point scorer in Preston girls’ basketball history this season. “You want to be that senior that everyone recognizes, but at the same time, you don’t want to give up the sport when you go to college.”
But at the same time, the night had multiple meanings for the PHS seniors, as it also represented the bond they had formed with their team, coaches, and fans, and how much that bond meant all around.
“It was just really special, the younger girls who we didn’t really think we’d end up being close to and we did, they showed their support for us,” Mayne said. “It really meant a lot.”
It was also a culmination of a tumultuous four seasons for the three ladies, who are leaving a program that they view as drastically different from when they entered it.
“It means a lot that we could go from, when coach (Brian) Miller got here, they weren’t that good, and last year we had a great year and this we’re showing that we’re still here,” Mayne said. “Last year we had the best year this school has ever had, and we’re still trying to continue what we started last year.”
Now, as they near the end of their career, the group of teammates — and friends — will leave behind quite the legacy on the hardwood at PHS.
“I’ll tell you what, if you look at the scoring for this year, they’re 90 percent of our scoring every game,” Miller said. “They helped build us up the last couple of years, we’ve been ranked in the top ten, and those girls were a part of that. That’s what they mean to this team, and that’s what they’ll leave behind for the other girls to aspire to be.”
And as the girls reflect on their career, they find themselves thankful for the opportunities they have received as a part of the Knights’ varsity basketball program.
“It’s been a great opportunity,” said Brown of the experience. “It’s great to know you’re a part of the school, and that everyone knows you.”
For Friend, it’s about leaving a mark in the community, and as they embark on the final stretch of their career, she hopes she and her teammates have provided role models for the younger girls of Preston County.
“It’s meant a lot,” she said. “I remember when I was in sixth grade, I always came to the varsity games, and I want to be a girl who little ones in middle school and elementary school look up to.”