Building ChampionsAfter averaging 20.0 points and 11.5 rebounds in Sam Houston’s four-game road to the championship finals of the Southland Conference women’s basketball tournament in Katy last weekend, Bearkat senior center Angela Beadle listened as the 2016 All-Tournament team was announced during the post-finals awards ceremony.

“They announced Shernise (Robertson) from our team and three others,” Beadle said. “The last to be announced always is the Most Valuable Player and that has always been someone from the winning team. I was like, well I guess I didn’t make the cut this year.”

Then Beadle was named MVP. The Austin Crockett High School senior become only the second player from a runner-up finisher to earn the honor in the 30-year history of the tournament.

“It was a complete shock,” Beadle said. “I was overwhelmed. It really hit home when I turned around and everyone was standing up and chanting my name. That was a heart-breaker. It was an honor for our whole team. I’m proud of the way we left it all out on the court.”

Seeded No. 7 after going 7-11 in Southland Conference play, the Bearkats had to win two of their final three regular season games just to land a berth in the tournament. They rolled to victories of 73-64 over No. 6 seed Nicholls, 78-70 versus No. 3 seed Stephen F. Austin and 78-71 against No. 2 seed Northwestern State.

Eventual champion and No. 1 seed Central Arkansas struggled to hold off the determined Bearkats, not gaining a comfortable lead until the final moments. Beadle posted double figure points and rebounds in each of the games. Her fellow senior, Shernise Robertson, also was named all-tournament after averaging 14.5 points and 4.0 assists per contest.

“To have two players make all-tournament is a huge accomplishment,” Beadle said. “We went into the tournament to take it game-by-game. I don’t think in all honesty any of us saw the team making it to the finals. But, in the huddle before the opening game, a couple of the players said ‘We’re here, let’s give it everything we’ve got.’ Once we beat SFA that was when we knew we could go all the way to the finals.”

Sam Houston became only the second team in tournament history seeded lower than fourth to get to the finals. Beadle became the first Bearkat women’s player to earn Southland All-Tournament honors twice (she also as all-tournament as a sophomore in 2013). She is the first Sam Houston player to receive the tournament MVP award.

Beadle and Robertson also earned All-Southland Conference honors following the regular season. In directing the Bearkats to 14 victories this season, the pair etched their names into the Sam Houston record book.

Beadle’s 514 points this season rank as the seventh highest single season total in Kat history. Her 63 blocked shots and 341 boards this year stand, respectively, as the second and sixth all-time yearly totals.

For her career, Beadle finished as Sam Houston’s fifth all-time leading scorer with 1,383 points and second career rebound leader with 1,025 boards. She also stands No. 1 in SHSU career blocks (184) and No. 2 all-time in field goal accuracy (.499)

All these accomplishments came after a long, hard year as a medical red-shirt due to a foot injury.

“Sitting out last year definitely was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through,” Beadle said. “I’ve had minor injuries here and there, but nothing that kept me out a whole season. It was a real mental gut check.

“I had to keep myself in it not just for me but for my teammates as well. If I hadn’t taken care of business last year I wouldn’t have been as successful this year. A lot of people think that once you get hurt, you’re never the same player. For me and for the other players that have been hurt here to come back and not just come back just as good but better it’s proven that wrong. It’s a great feeling.”

Beadle is one of many Bearkat athletes who have battled through adversity with injuries and come back to make headlines and build success for Sam Houston. Others include all-time Bearkat rushing and scoring leader Timothy Flanders (football), All-Southland Conference Demarcus Gatlin (basketball), Southland Indoor Women's Track Athlete of the Year Danielle Demas and All-America punter Lachlan Edwards.

Staying healthy and rehabilitating from injury is as important as anything necessary for Sam Houston’s student-athletes to succeed at a championship level. Alumni, fans and friends who wish to help the more than 400 Bearkats receive the medical and athletic training resources they need can help continue building Bearkat Champions by supporting them online through the Athletic Training Enrichment Building Champions link.