The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper


Brittany Darling has worked at The Home Depot at the Rossford Crossroads for


about two years, but she won't be there much longer.

“I'm mainly a cashier but sometimes I pick up shifts in other departments, like plumbing,” said Darling, a 2008 Genoa graduate. “I kind of go everywhere, but mostly cashier.”

Darling, 20, spent the last couple years working, going to school and playing basketball for coach Mike Llanas at Owens Community College. This season, the 6-3 center earned first-team All-Ohio Community College Athletic Conference honors and was named the Express' co-MVP after averaging 13.6 points and 11 rebounds (ranked 20th nationally) a game.

In June, Darling's new residence will be Cookeville, Tenn., where she will play for the Division I Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles. Darling signed a letter of intent with the Eagles on April 14.

“I'm excited, just for the adventure alone,” Darling said. “Just to get out of Ohio and try something new. I can just go play basketball and not have to go to work and just have fun. They want me to play basketball and go to school. I'll be moving at the end of June and we will have training and workouts in July. I might do some summer classes, too, so I don't have to do so much during the season.”

Darling, who averaged 10.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.1 blocks in her two years at Owens, said she also considered playing at Troy University in Alabama, Hofstra University in Long Island, N.Y., and Kennesaw State in Atlanta.

That changed once she saw the Tennessee Tech campus and visited with the coaches and players.

“I went for a visit about a month ago and I absolutely loved it,” Darling said. “Me and my mom (Kim Kristof) drove down there and I met the coaches, and I just knew. I loved the team. The girls there reminded me of my team here. There are a lot of similar traits. I saw their basketball video, like a highlight tape - it's going to be a fun two years.”

Darling said she wants to become a cosmetologist, and she will be enrolled in Tennessee Tech's interdisciplinary studies business program.

Darling said she expects to play right away with the Golden Eagles, who had six freshmen and five sophomores on their 2009-10 roster. She will also be the tallest player on the team.

“I'll have to work for my spot, obviously,” Darling said. “They're bringing me in to make a difference. I need to work hard and work for my spot; I am very ready. I'm ready for the experience of being able to play at that level. I feel great and I'm glad I'm doing it. I don't want to have any regrets. I want to play and enjoy it. I can't see myself not playing basketball.”

Tennessee Tech has an enrollment of nearly 11,000 students and is a member of the Ohio Valley Conference. The Golden Eagles finished 14-16 and 8-6 in the OVC last season under first-year coach Sytia Messer. Their 14 wins was the team's highest win total since the 2005-06 season.

Last Wednesday, Messer announced the signing of Darling and Keisha Moore to the Golden Eagles' roster. Moore is a 5-8 guard from Selma, Ala.

“We’re very happy to sign Brittany and Keisha,” Messer said on Tennessee Tech's basketball website. “I think adding them to the players we already have will provide great chemistry within our program. They’re great kids and they both bring a real winning attitude. When they join the first signees that we had, I think this team can compete at the highest level of the Ohio Valley Conference.”

Darling went to Owens after a stellar career for coach Tom Kontak at Genoa. She averaged 16.3 points and 10.8 rebounds for her career and finished with 1,452 points, the second-highest total in school history.

In 2009-10, Darling led Owens to a 27-6 record and a No. 6 ranking in the final National Junior College Athletic Association Division II poll. Darling had 58 points, 58 rebounds and 12 blocks in three postseason games. The Express lost to Schoolcraft College 74-64 in the NJCAA XII regional championship game.

Darling, who this season set the school single-season record for blocks (127) and tied the school record for rebounds in a game (21), said she “got a lot” out of her two years at Owens.

“It put me in a better position (to play Division I) than when I was a senior in high school,” she said. “I wasn't sure I was going to play for four years, so I'm glad I did the two years at Owens. It got me another two years to play on a scholarship. Coach Llanas taught me a lot. I learned something new every day.”

Llanas said Darling put in the necessary work to earn a Division I scholarship.

“Brittany struggled her first year at Owens,” he said. “The scoring did not come easy for her the first year. What she learned was the fundamental part of the game. She needed to hone in her offensive skills to be successful at our level, and therefore be successful at the Division I level.

“The coaching staff at Owens is very proud of her. We're proud of the improvements that she's made and the mark she left at Owens, breaking school records and achieving individual accomplishments and setting some marks that may never be broken. We're looking forward to her personal growth as she moves on to Tennessee Tech.”

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