Riverdale standout Alexa Middleton prepares to shoot a shot during the 3-point contest at the McDonald's All-American game in Chicago. Photo submitted.
While most high school students were on the beach during spring break last week, Riverdale senior basketball star Alexa Middleton was in Chicago taking part in the 2014 McDonald’s All-American Games.
During her four years with the Lady Warriors, she has received a lot of awards, but last week the nation got to see what Rutherford County has witnessed for the past few years.
‘Alexa Middleton has been a staple of the Riverdale Lady Warrior program for four years,” Riverdale head coach Cory Barrett said. “She has been a great example on and off the floor for any young lady that has aspirations of playing college basketball. She is a young lady of high character and morals and will have continued success as she enters life after high school. She is an example that any current or future Lady Warrior can look up to.’
At Riverdale, Middleton helped put the program on the nation’s radar in terms of winning two state titles, and an undefeated national title in 2013. This season, the Lady Warriors wanted to follow the success and play some of the best teams in the United States. The cross-county trip included stops in Hawaii, Atlanta and many other places, while at the same time competing against some of the top teams right here at home.
“We love to compete and win and play the best of the best,” Middleton. “That is what I have done my whole life. I was just so glad we had the chances and opportunities to go to places like Hawaii and Atlanta to play against some of the top teams in the country. We wanted to prove that we are the best, and we want to play the best of the best.”
This season did not end the way the Lady Warriors wanted as their county rival, Blackman, took home the state and national title, but Middleton averaged 18 points a game for Riverdale. Her success earned her the 2014 TSSAA Miss Basketball award and a basketball scholarship to Tennessee.
“It has been like a dream come true,” Middleton said. “Most people do not get to experience things my teammates and I have gotten to experience. I always want to credit the Lord because he has blessed me with so many wonderful people and opportunities that I have experienced. I am so thankful for people who are out there and who have given me the opportunity. It has been a great four years and I could not ask for much more.”
Last week in Chicago, Middleton became the first person to win both the 3-point and skills contest at the same PowerAde Jam. During the 3-point contest, Middleton hit nine treys in a row, and lost by a point to the boys champion, James Blackman Jr., in the battle of the sexes contest. In the skills event, she completed the course which incorporates passing, shooting and dribbling exercises in a fast time of 27.9 seconds to win the event.
“It was a really fun atmosphere, and some of my family got to be there,” Middleton said. “I had never participated in anything like that before. My dad and I had practiced the 3-point contest by shooting off of ball racks. I did not think I was going to do both, but at the last second I decided to do both and I am glad I did. I work on my shot a lot with my dad, and when I started shooting I felt like I was at home with him.”
The following night was the McDonald’s All-American Girls game at the United Center, where the NBA’s Chicago Bulls play. Middleton played on the East team, and she hit a long distance shot in the first half to give the East a 37-36 advantage. It was her only points during the game, and the West won 80-78, but it was still a great experience for Middleton as she got to play with the best high school females players in the nation.
“It was completely awesome,” Middleton said. “It was a goal of mine that I have had for so long. I had been working for it since I was a little kid. I watched it when I was younger, and I knew I wanted to do that. I had so many people along the way help me and push me to be able to accomplish that goal. It was really neat to be up there with all of those great players. I made friendships which I know will last for a long time.”