Baranek: This Diamond a real gem for Tinley Park
By Tony Baranek firstname.lastname@example.org December 21, 2012 9:04PM
Diamond Beatty, of Tinley Park. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun Times Media
Updated: January 24, 2013 6:19AM
The book on Tinley Park senior girls basketball player Diamond Beatty might as well be titled, “Pick Your Poison.”
If you give her the shot, she’s going to drain it.
If you play up on her, she’s going to take it to the hole.
If you foul her, she’s going to make her free throws.
If you want to challenge her on defense, she’ll steal the ball.
“She has it all. She really brings the best out of our team, and it’s pretty awesome to watch,” Titans coach Jason Becker said of the 5-foot-7 senior guard, who is breaking school records and leading Tinley to an impressive 9-4 record.
Starting last week, Beatty topped the Southland scoring chart at 20.2 points per game. She also was among the area leaders in free-throw shooting (33-of-44) and three-point shooting (27-of-54).
Dec. 10 against Lincoln-Way West, Beatty, with college scouts watching, hit six three-pointers and finished with 40 points, the most of any player in Tinley Park girls basketball history.
“That felt good. That was fun,” a smiling Beatty said. “When I looked up at the scoreboard and saw that I had 16 points and it wasn’t even halftime yet, I just kept shooting and just kept hitting.”
She and junior teammate Caitlin Sudduth (12.2 ppg) have developed into one of the best 1-2 guard combinations in the South Suburban Conference. They take turns running the point and scoring them.
“We built it (the partnership) this year,” Beatty said. “Me and ‘Suds,’ off the court we hang out a lot more and we’re closer as friends, so I think that helps when we’re playing.”
Beatty didn’t start playing organized basketball until she was in seventh grade at Colin Powell Middle School in Tinley Park.
“My seventh-grade year I started, but in my eighth-grade year I didn’t,” she said. “I wasn’t the best player on my team, so I didn’t know how far I’d really go far in basketball. But I kept practicing, trying to get better.”
She gained Becker’s notice as a freshman playing on the sophomore team.
“She was really smooth,” he said. “She wasn’t developed; you could tell she was still a young basketball player. But she was smooth in everything she did. And she picked up on things really well and tried them right away in a game.”
Her varsity debut at Tinley Park was kind of a strange one.
After a successful season as a freshman on the sophomore team, she was told by Becker to report to the varsity for the upcoming state playoffs.
She was a no-show at the first practice.
“I was tired,” she said. “It was just a long season, and I just didn’t want to go anymore. Coming out of eighth grade, you don’t really play that long. I guess I wasn’t used to it.”
A lot of coaches might have said the heck with it. But Becker talked her back into the gym.
“I try to give people second chances or more chances,” Becker said. “I feel if you quit on somebody, no matter who it is, you never know where it’ll lead them on the path of life.
“She didn’t want to play, but we wound up playing a Chicago team and she hit two threes in that game,” he said. “We knew right then we had something special.”
Beatty said she got a real boost in her abilities at the end of her sophomore year when she played club ball for the first time for Ron Newquist’s Wolverines organization.
“It was really fun,” Beatty said. “I was kind of nervous to be with a new team, people I didn’t know. But it was fun traveling and playing against other people who are at your skill level.
“I played with Bria Gaines, Danielle King, Catherine Strong … we had a whole bunch of good players. If I didn’t play with them, I wouldn’t be as good as I am now.”
As Beatty improved, so did Tinley Park. The Titans went from 3-21 in 2009-10 to 9-15 in 2010-11 to 13-14 in 2011-12. A late three-game winning streak got the Titans to the .500 mark before they dropped a regional semifinal to Providence.
Beatty ended her junior season with a team-leading 16 points per game.
The fun, apparently, has only begun. Tinley Park is on a four-game winning streak, the last two victories quality ones over Lincoln-Way West and Richards.
Against Richards, Beatty and the Titans started out slowly, but crunch time brought out her best as she scored nine points in the fourth quarter to fuel a come-from-behind 49-48 victory.
“It’s fun seeing her and the team grow up,” Becker said. “They really enjoy playing with her. She’s really taken the team beneath her and to the next level.”