Gunter's Putnicki picks Austin College
GUNTER — Sarah Putnicki did her best work around the basket, an inside presence during four years as a starter where the paint was essentially her second home.
When it came to finding a place to continue her basketball career, Putnicki didn’t have to look very far from home as the Gunter senior announced her decision to play for Austin College.
She chose the local Division III program over interest from Emerson College.
"I had a couple of options," Putnicki said. "You get that balance between life and sports. It can be a great experience."
This past season Putnicki helped the Lady Tigers to a 26-6 record and advanced to the region final for the first time since 2002 before losing to state semifinalist Ponder.
"What made this year so special was the feeling of family. A lot of people talk about it family but this group was really close," Putnicki said. "I think we knew we were going to be good. We were on adrenaline this whole season."
She averaged 12.1 points, 7.4 rebounds 1.4 steals and 1.3 assists while shooting 52.4 percent from the floor and 82.9 percent from the free-throw line.
Putnicki was an all-state choice in Class 3A by the Texas Girls Coaches Association, an all-region selection for 3A Region II by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches and named first-team all-district for the third consecutive year after her performances as a junior and sophomore.
During her freshman season she made an immediate impact and was named the District 9-3A Newcomer of the Year as the Lady Tigers made the postseason for the first of her three trips.
Austin College finished a COVID-19-shortened season with a 6-5 overall record and 6-4 mark in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference with a loss in the semifinals of the SCAC Tournament.
The ‘Roos were the SCAC Tournament champions for the first time during the last full season the program played and went 23-5 with a first-round loss in the NCAA Division III Tournament in Austin College’s first trip to the national tourney in more than two decades.
The program also had a stretch of two regular-season conference titles in three seasons with the last coming in the 2017-18 season and until the condensed season this winter had won at least 18 games every year since 2015.
Among the players on the roster this past season was Bri Carr, one of Putnicki’s former teammates for three seasons who just finished her freshman year for AC.
"They've had success and I hope to be able to contribute," Putnicki said. "I know the other really good players will help me get better."