Some players need more coaching and direction than others. When it comes to Tartan’s Tia Elbert, the coaching is simple.
“As a coach, I just let her play,” coach Charlita Williamson said. “Why hold her back?”
Refraining from holding Elbert back has allowed the senior to hit some impressive benchmarks. Elbert, a 5-7 guard, surpassed the 3,000-point mark on Jan. 17 in the Titans’ 79-61 victory over North St. Paul. This past Tuesday, she became Tartan’s all-time leading scorer, which includes boys and girls’ basketball players.
Jake Sullivan held the previous all-time mark of 3,013 points. Elbert needed just 10 heading into Tuesday’s game against Simley. She finished with a whopping 41 points and a spot in school history that won’t be threatened any time soon. She also has at least 11 more games to add to her total.
At the pace she’s at, the dynamic scorer could approach or even eclipse the 3,500 mark by her prep career’s end. Elbert is averaging about 35 points per game, the second-best clip in the state.
“She’s just a scorer, and I’ll allow her to do just that,” Williamson said. “She wants to win. I want to win.”
Winning is exactly what she helps Tartan do.
Elbert suffered a high-ankle sprain before the season. She still played the first couple of games of the season but was then held out of the lineup for five games to allow it to fully heal.
Since Elbert’s return to the lineup on Jan. 10 against Richfield, she and her teammates had rattled off five straight wins leading into Thursday’s matchup against DeLaSalle. Tartan is battling atop the Classic Suburban Conference with Richfield and Hill-Murray.
Her progression over the years has been all about the team. She led the Titans not only in scoring last year but in assists. She makes her teammates better on the court. Williamson, who has been coaching for 15 years, called Elbert one of the best players she’s ever had.
“She knows the game,” Williamson said. “Her IQ on the court — I would say it’s on the college level.”
But the records and accolades haven’t rushed to Elbert’s head.
“She is excited about it, but she doesn’t dwell on it,” Williamson said. “I believe she is very underrated in this state. I know it won’t probably set in until the season’s over and she heads off to Marquette.”
Elbert will study business administration at Marquette, where she believes she’ll get a good education and playing experience.
Her coach believes she can step in right away.
“I definitely believe Tia will make noise at Marquette,” Williamson said. “She’s the type of player that can play at all positions. Some people think her height’s a factor. She’s had plenty of experience in all positions to be prepared for college, on offense and defense.”
And specifically, scoring.