Taking it to the next level
Bernard prepares for college ball
Former De Soto High School girls basketball standout Tiffany Bernard is spending her summer vacation days honing her basketball skills for the junior college game.
Bernard, a 2001 graduate of De Soto High School, will play the guard position for Neosho County Community College in Chanute, Kan.
Because the Panthers compete in the Jayhawk Conference, family and friends can see Bernard play locally against Kansas City Kansas and Johnson County community colleges or make the two-hour drive to Chanute.
Bernard said the landscape of college basketball differs from that of high school because all of the best high school players are competing for playing time.
"I liked the coach (Jason Graf) and the campus," Bernard said. "We had a little scrimmage last week. (The college level) is a lot harder because instead of having one superstar, you have several."
De Soto girls basketball coach Dwight Spencer said playing at the junior college level would be a good transition for Bernard, who excelled at the 4A level.
"It gives her a year or two to see where she fits in," Spencer said. "I think she's got good ability and she is working on her weaknesses so she can get ready to play at that level."
Bernard is spending this summer working out in the gym, weightlifting, perfecting her ball-handling skills and playing for the Kansas Swish, an AAU basketball team comprised of Frontier League players and recent alumni.
"My goal is to have a winning season and improve as a basketball player," Bernard said. " I want to have fun and work hard at the same time."
She will study exercise science and plans to attend a four-year university upon graduation from Neosho.
Bernard has great memories of her career at DHS and said this year's Wildcat team should be very balanced.
"We got better every year," Bernard said. "Next year, everyone will just have to step up and stay healthy."