From left: Phillis Haywood, Myriah Haywood and Marceo Haywood

EDWARDSVILLE – Myriah Haywood played a key role the past two seasons for Edwardsville’s girls basketball team in their march to a pair of IHSA Class 4A final fours.

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Last season, Haywood averaged 9.9 points per game for the Tigers to go with a 58.8 percent field-goal percentage, a 64.2 free-throw percentage, 5.1 rebounds per game, 1.72 assists per game, 1.53 steals per game, 1.72 assists per game and 1.06 blocks per game in helping the Tigers reach the 4A third-place game against Des Plaines Maine West.

Wednesday afternoon, Haywood parlayed her success with the Tigers into a spot beginning next season with Western Kentucky in Bowling Green, Ky., a member of Division I Conference USA which includes schools such as Alabama-Birmingham, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, North Carolina-Charlotte, Old Dominion, Rice, Southern Mississippi and Texas-El Paso.

“They are much like Edwardsville,” Haywood said of why she decided on WKU. “Much of a family setting; I like being around coaches that like me and will have my back and will help me when I need help and things like that.”

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Haywood began playing basketball in third grade when she was playing kickball in a recess at her school. “I wasn’t really having fun and I went over to the boys and started playing basketball,” Haywood recalled. “I’m like, ‘OK, I’m kind of good’, so I told my mom; from that day forward, I’ve been going to camps and working on making myself better.

“That’s where I am now.”

Being a part of Edwardsville’s program has been a big thing for Haywood. “Being a part of the Edwardsville program has been something that people dream of,” Haywood said. “They are supportive, they have a great fan base and coach (Lori) Blade does a lot for the community – we do a lot for the community; being here was something I always wanted to be.”

Being a part of a team that reached the state Class 4A semifinals two years straight has been a big thing for Haywood. “One of the memories I’ll have is beating (St. Louis-area power Incarnate Word) in the (Visitation) Christmas Tournament (back in late December),” Haywood said of the memories she’ll have of being a part of Edwardsville’s program. “That was something that was really big.”

Haywood plans on majoring in business at WKU with the goal of opening her own business in the future.

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