Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Moments like these don’t come often.
In fact, a moment like this has happened just once before at Timberland, where the school has retired the jersey number of one of its own.
Former NFL player Tracy White’s number 41 was the first.
Basketball great Kalana Greene’s number 33 is the second.
Greene, who led the Timberland Lady Wolves to the school’s first state championship back in 2005, and went to star for the UConn Huskies and in the WNBA, came home on Feb. 17 to have her jersey number retired.
“Kalana Greene is truly one of Timberland’s all-time greats,” said Athletic Director Art Craig. “Kalana is one of the most decorated athletes in Timberland High School history.”
Greene was named to the Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association All-American team in 2005 where she is a member of their Hall of Fame. Greene was also a Parade All-American as well.
She was named the 2005 South Carolina Gatorade High School Player of the Year, was a three-time All-South Carolina AAA first team selection, averaging 28 points per game, with 18 rebounds, nine steals and eight assists in leading Timberland to its first girls’ state championship in 2005.
Greene also led her teams to three consecutive 20-win seasons in her scholastic career.
“When you think of the great athletes to come out of this area, Kalana Greene’s name is always at the top of the list,” Craig said. “One top of that, she was a great student and a fantastic person.”
Coach Cleve Touchberry said he never had to worry about her on the court or off.
“She was always here,” he said. “Always looking to do more. If I had to fuss at her about something it was that she was too unselfish with the ball. She felt she shot too much.”
Touchberry remembered a game where his star player went into the locker room at the half with just four points scored over the game’s first 16 minutes.
“I went into the locker room and chewed her out. I told her to shoot the ball more and to quit passing off. She came out in the second half and scored something like thirty points. She could do anything she wanted out there on the floor.”
Moving on to UConn, Greene helped lead the Lady Huskies to a pair of NCAA National Championships in 2009 and 2010, scoring more than 1,400 points and hauling down 748 rebounds, snatching 179 steals, 228 assists and shooting a blistering 54 percent from the floor.
The day after winning her second NCAA championship, Greene was taken by the New York Liberty with the 13th pick in the WNBA draft and has just completed her fourth season in WNBA.
Looking back, Greene had no idea basketball would bring her all this.
“I had no idea the game would take me this far, that it would bring me back here to have my number retired,” she said. “This is like a dream.”
What wasn’t shown during the retirement ceremony were the two additional basketball jerseys she gave the school to display in their trophy case, a UConn basketball jersey with her number 32, and her current jersey from her WNBA team, the Connecticut Sun.
“It’s amazing that she thought enough of us to give us these jerseys to display,” Craig said.
Her former coach added one more story about Kalana Greene not many people might know. It’s her dedication to the game and her desire to pass it on to the next generation of Lady Wolves basketball players.
“She always comes back,” Touchberry said. “Every year she’s here to work out with the kids. You have no idea what it means to these girls to see her out there running the floor with them.
“Kalana comes back six or seven times a year and she’s always here from October through March. She just asked me when postseason basketball practice was starting.”
“The girls see that,” Touchberry said. “And they appreciate her being there.”