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Basketball leads teen to new family, faith, love

Sade Tucker doesn't remember how many times she moved as a youngster. There are too many locations to count.Th...

Posted: Mar 15, 2018 9:54 PM
Updated: Mar 15, 2018 9:54 PM

Sade Tucker doesn't remember how many times she moved as a youngster. There are too many locations to count.

The Mason junior point guard knows she lived in Alabama and Mississippi before moving to Ohio when was 8 or 9. What's most important is Tucker's perseverance throughout her childhood.

When Tucker's mother, Andrea Niemann, died in November 2015, Sade lived in Colerain Township and was a freshman at Walnut Hills High School. Tucker's father has not been in her life.

But, Tucker believes God had a plan for her path. That would include finding a loving home in Mason.

In late 2015, Kyle and Rachael Smith were aware of Tucker's personal situation and opened the door for her to become part of their young family in Warren County.

Rachael (Arington) played basketball at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy and later was a student assistant with the University of Kentucky women's basketball team.

More recently, Rachael coaches Tucker during the Amateur Athletic Union season as the Director of Operations for the Cincinnati Angels Basketball Club.

Many people have helped Tucker on her journey. As a coach and adoptive mother, Rachael found a natural connection with her daughter.

Basketball was a common thread. But, faith was the foundation of their relationship.

The two attended Bible studies. Tucker had questions about her faith and Rachael did her best to give her answers that led her closer to God. Tucker confided in and trusted Rachael during a difficult time in the teenager's life.

"It kind of alluded itself to being God's perfect timing," Smith said.

By early 2016, Tucker lived with the family at their home not far from Mason High School. In August 2016, Kyle and Rachael earned custody.

"The timing was crazy," Tucker said. "It's been such a blessing. I've grown a lot since I've been here. My life has been great ever since I've been here. It's been awesome."

Kyle and Rachael also have two sons – 4-year-old Roman and 10-month-old Kade. They've been with Tucker every step of the way, including this tournament run for the Comets.

Tucker, named after the singer Sade, adjusted to having younger siblings; she's given Roman some basketball tips.

The family attends Crossroads Church in Mason. She loves everything about her family. Basketball is interwoven in that.

"She's been through a lot and she's overcome so much," Rachael said. "She works her tail end off every single day."

As the Mason girls' basketball team (24-3) prepares to play Pickerington Central (26-2) in a Division I state semifinal Friday at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus (8 p.m. tip-off), Tucker, her family, friends and coaches are grateful for the opportunity.

Tucker, listed generously at 5 feet 4, is ready for this weekend. She simply doesn't want the season to end.

That was evident March 10 when she scored a career-high 20 points to go along with three steals in the Comets' 54-51 win over Lakota West in the regional final at Trent Arena in Kettering.

"She's 5-2 but she plays like 6-2," Mason coach Rob Matula said. "She doesn't back down from anybody."

Rachael couldn't help but get emotional during the postgame celebration on the court. She also knows the amount of hours her daughter has put into the game.

"There was definitely tears in my eyes when that final buzzer sounded," Rachael said. "I was so proud of her. It was more than basketball. It was a moment I will never forget – that's for sure."

Matula likes to say this Mason team is as focused and resilient on the court as any team he's coached – boys or girls – in 30 years. And no one may better illustrate that this season as a student-athlete than the 16-year-old Tucker.

"She just exudes goodness," Matula said. "You can't help but smile being around her."

Tucker, who would like to study mechanical engineering and marketing in college, played basketball her freshman and sophomore seasons at Walnut Hills before making her own decision to transfer to Mason this season.

Last summer, Matula was struck by how Tucker embraced a leadership role in the Comets' youth camp. At the time, Tucker really only knew sophomore guard Megan Wagner. But, she quickly learned to make new friends with her other teammates.

"She came in and I swear to you it was like she had been there forever," Matula said. "She jumped into the drills and helped. She was not shy. She was full of energy. That is just who she is. She is a breath of fresh air."

Maybe it was no surprise that when Tucker left the regional semifinal game in the Comets' 53-32 win over Mount Notre Dame March 7, the Black Hole – Mason's student section – serenaded her name in unison.

Matula saw Tucker in the school hallway the next morning. Both shared the fact they couldn't eat or sleep since the win.

Matula admitted he woke up with a big smile on his face recalling how the Black Hole lauded Tucker. She had a similar reaction that morning.

"She put her hands up in the air and looked to the sky and said, 'I know Mason loves me,'" Matula said.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1005797

Reported Deaths: 16449
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1353572119
Lake663011164
Allen57820801
Hamilton46296464
St. Joseph44311613
Elkhart35888509
Vanderburgh32214480
Tippecanoe27898258
Johnson25056445
Hendricks23854359
Porter22890365
Madison18724409
Clark18540252
Vigo17449303
Monroe15242199
LaPorte15124250
Delaware15043261
Howard14719289
Kosciusko12285147
Hancock11709175
Bartholomew11602180
Warrick11287189
Floyd11082215
Wayne10965253
Grant10051220
Morgan9457176
Boone8913116
Dubois8263131
Dearborn820893
Henry8200152
Noble8017106
Marshall7916135
Cass7528121
Lawrence7447171
Shelby7176119
Jackson697289
Gibson6584115
Harrison647591
Knox6418106
Huntington6385100
DeKalb630699
Montgomery6252110
Miami592298
Putnam580078
Clinton574971
Whitley564255
Steuben560676
Wabash5324104
Jasper529879
Jefferson510297
Ripley499886
Adams481576
Daviess4670114
Scott438574
Greene424496
Wells423088
Clay422060
White418164
Decatur4164102
Fayette406187
Jennings386661
Posey376644
LaGrange357678
Washington357651
Randolph344499
Spencer339543
Fountain334760
Sullivan328652
Starke316470
Owen314170
Fulton309467
Orange293564
Jay284145
Franklin265443
Perry265352
Rush261332
Carroll261133
Vermillion257754
Parke231126
Pike228843
Tipton227559
Blackford192642
Pulaski183457
Crawford159223
Newton157848
Benton150217
Brown146147
Martin138219
Switzerland134911
Warren121016
Union107016
Ohio84513
Unassigned0540

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1511760

Reported Deaths: 23616
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1636861666
Cuyahoga1457252442
Hamilton1050421416
Montgomery737101254
Summit614971105
Lucas56058912
Butler51383711
Stark464421056
Lorain35443584
Warren32687373
Mahoning30598675
Clermont28106326
Lake26907443
Delaware24114162
Licking23820287
Trumbull22742556
Fairfield22309246
Greene22212320
Medina21941311
Clark19757351
Richland18500285
Portage17857250
Wood17394221
Allen15905269
Miami15487299
Muskingum14737185
Columbiana13940269
Wayne13722265
Tuscarawas12643304
Marion11906175
Scioto11432161
Pickaway11346141
Erie10811181
Ross10532198
Lawrence9725153
Ashtabula9658200
Hancock9649150
Belmont9262206
Geauga8906157
Jefferson8531197
Huron8338141
Union816557
Washington8066138
Sandusky7790148
Athens773676
Knox7679141
Darke7618155
Seneca7306144
Ashland6917126
Auglaize678097
Shelby6493113
Brown633387
Crawford6245130
Defiance6162103
Mercer612893
Fulton599296
Highland596899
Madison592176
Guernsey583468
Logan582795
Clinton581191
Preble5692122
Putnam5301108
Williams526185
Perry516563
Champaign510372
Jackson506571
Ottawa484086
Coshocton478783
Morrow456656
Pike432763
Fayette427461
Hardin416678
Gallia416266
Adams415392
Van Wert369579
Henry362571
Holmes3619123
Hocking355579
Wyandot322261
Carroll300659
Paulding279147
Meigs263350
Monroe214854
Noble198946
Morgan193232
Harrison180143
Vinton165125
Unassigned05
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