When Hayden Priddy moved to Piedmont from Ada in the sixth grade, she hadn’t heard much about the athletics in town, and what she had heard wasn’t exactly glowing.
“A lot of people talked really down about Piedmont basketball,” she said. “They just all told me that the team was never very good. They all said sports weren’t really our thing and that it was more of a band school.”
But with Priddy, and the help of a strong 2015 senior class, that narrative has changed drastically in the last seven years. As Priddy’s career ended in the semifinals of the 5A state tournament, once lowly Piedmont had become a powerhouse that had solidified itself as a title contender.
“The four years this program has been at its best, I can say I was a part of that,” Priddy said of going 77-26 overall with three state tournament appearances in four seasons.
Priddy played a big part in Piedmont’s renaissance throughout her career as a four-year starter, especially towards the end of her senior season. Despite enduring a midseason shooting slump, she averaged more than 13 points per game during the regular season and scored more than 22 a game at state en route to all-tournament first team honors.
“To end the season with 32 points and then 15 points in two of the biggest games of my career, it was great,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better end to my career at Piedmont.”
The awards didn’t stop, though. A few days later, Priddy was named Suburban Conference Player of the Year, an award that Priddy admitted she didn’t grasp the significance of right away.
“It didn’t really sink in for me until everyone started to congratulate me,” she said of the recognition. “That’s when I kind of started to realized how big of a deal it was.”
In all, each of Piedmont’s five starters – Mina Iyaye, Kayden Carver, Maddie Sperle and Bre Reid – earned All-Conference recognition while head coach Jamie Hill was named Conference Coach of the Year.
Hill and Priddy have formed a special bound in four seasons. Hill spent the first two as an assistant coach before taking over as head coach prior to Priddy’s junior year. Sharing conference honors with a coach she’s grown close to, on and off the court, made the recognition that much sweeter for Priddy.
“Not all players like the coach they play for, but Coach Hill is one of my best friends,” Priddy said. “She coached my very first game as a freshman and my last game as a senior. It was a big deal we won those awards together.”
Her first days in Piedmont, back when people told her the basketball program was an afterthought in town and might always be, are long gone now. The town, the school and especially the players and coaches that have helped build the program to where it is today, take pride in what it’s become and want to see it remain successful.
With that in mind, Priddy’s message to next year’s team was simple.
“Just for them to keep up the tradition,” she said. “That’s all I could ever ask for. I’ll definitely be watching.”
Priddy has signed to play at Southwestern Oklahoma State next season, but isn’t ready for high school to end just yet.
“I’m one of those seniors that does not want to graduate. I love being in high school,” she said. “But I’m excited to get to SWOSU.”