Prep pulse: Aug. 13, 2018

Prep pulse: Aug. 13, 2018

Anaya Peoples has had plenty of moments to celebrate this calendar year.

The Schlarman senior helped the Hilltoppers girls' basketball team to its first-ever Class 1A state title in February. Then she watched Notre Dame, the college program to which she's long been committed, topple Mississippi State for the NCAA women's championship.

How could 2018 get any better for Peoples? With a gold medal.

She joined 11 other girls in leading the U.S. women's program to a U18 international championship, as the Americans posted a perfect 6-0 ledger en route to the crown in Mexico City. The showcase ran from July 20 through July 29.

"It meant everything," Peoples said Saturday during an honorary rally at Schlarman's gymnasium. "We were playing and having our gold mentality, gold mindset, and we just kept winning. It was fun."

Peoples started two games and competed in all six, averaging 19.2 minutes per game. Though she wasn't called on to score much, averaging 5.3 points, she tied for the team lead in assists with 18 and led the club in steals with 15.

The Americans rolled through their opponents, with a 24-point victory over Canada in the title bout being their closest margin of victory.

But Peoples said their foes showed a very upbeat mindset despite those results, actually getting autographs and photos from the Americans before and after games.

Those weren't the only people Team USA was popular with, either.

"My dad (Schlarman coach Keith Peoples) came, and we met with each other in the gym. And when he came toward me, he brought about 50 people with him," Anaya Peoples said. "Good thing I used to practice my autograph as a little girl in sixth grade. It's paying off now."

There was little downtime for Peoples and her cohorts. On their one off day, Peoples said the team climbed a 3,000-step mountain.

As Peoples kept repeating, though, all the tough hours paid off in the end. And she plans to use that experience in her final season with the Hilltoppers.

"We're champions and ... we're going to look like them, we're going to walk like them," Peoples said. "We're going to act like champions from here on out."