Miami connection leaves mark on LSU

Just as they left Edison High School five years ago, Scholanda Hoston and Florence Williams leave LSU – together.

The two Miami, Fla. natives decided to spend their collegiate careers at LSU, and after both experienced hardships along the way, Hoston and Williams got to celebrate Senior Day at the same time.

For Hoston, the day was filled with plenty of emotion that she tried not to let overwhelm her. Although she said she did not want to cry, her self described "bloodshot red eyes" showed just how she felt.

"I think it's just now starting to sink in. I'm just realizing everything is the last," Hoston said.

Hoston said her moment of realization that this was her final regular season home game came from the fans.

"It was just listening to the crowd and just knowing that with all those 10,000 people in there, that's the last time I'm going to hear and see that many people in purple and gold in this house cheering for us," Hoston said.

Hoston joined the Lady Tigers in 2001, but went by Scholanda Dorrell. In 2002, she married Frederick Hosten and legally changed her name.

Hoston was forced to miss the 2002 – 03 season due to her pregnancy with daughter Aishida.

During her one year absence from the team, Hoston's scholarship was revoked by former head coach Sue Gunter. Rather than taking the easy road and withdrawing from LSU, Hoston paid her own tuition and continued to stay in school.

The next season, Hoston earned her scholarship back and immediately contributed to the team.

Just ten months after giving birth, Hoston played in the Lady Tigers' opening game against Villanova.

In the 2004-05 season, Hoston started all 36 games for LSU, leading the team with 78 steals for the year. Her performance earned her the honors of 2005 Third-team All-Louisiana.

This season, Hoston became just the 25th player in LSU history to have over 1,000 career points.

With all the obstacles she has battled through, Hoston tried hard to keep her emotions in check throughout the day.

"It's bittersweet," Hoston said about her final game. "I feel like I've been here forever."

As Hoston walked to center court to be acknowledged on Senior Day, her parents, husband, and daughter were all with her.

"It's sad to have to leave, but you want to move on to bigger and better things, and accomplish things in life, not just basketball," Hoston said.

Hoston plans on graduating in May with a degree in kinesiology, an accomplishment she worked hard to attain.

"I think I've gotten a good foundation here with my coaches that have laid that out really well for me to have something to build on further in basketball and beyond that," Hoston said.

The conclusion of the regular season also marks an end to Hoston and Florence Williams playing on the same team. With Hoston, Williams led her high school to a state title her senior year, and was named as the Most Valuable Player in the state tournament.

Although ranked among the Blue Star Report Top 100 and heavily recruited out of high school, Williams was forced to sit out a year after being declared academically ineligible. However, Williams, like Hoston, regained her eligibility the following season and completed her degree in general studies in August 2005.

Williams was able to earn back her lost season and the 6-1 forward has made the most of her final year. Her dreadlocks have set her apart from the other players on the court, but her play under the basket has also helped the player Tiger fans call "Fleaux" to gain attention.

In the 24 games Williams has played in this season, she has averaged four rebounds per game, including a season high 12 against Alabama in January.

In her final game against Mississippi State, Williams collected seven rebounds despite being hampered with a foot injury.

Williams said her foot was hurting when she was running and trying to push off of it.

"It kind of disables me with jumping, but I got through it," Williams said.

When asked if the injury hurt enough to have her taken out of the game, Williams just laughed and shook her head.

After the game, Williams, Hoston, and Augustus huddled in mid court to remember the years they spent with each other.

"We said a little prayer for allowing us to be here, the years we've been here, and just thanking God for them," Williams said.

Although Hoston and Williams held back any tears, head coach Pokey Chapman said she will probably have a harder time doing so. Chapman said their performance on the court will be missed, but more importantly, the loss in friendship between these two players will be felt by the team.

However, Hoston and Williams will look to end their college careers as they did their high school years – with a championship.

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