After fighting her way back from injuries her freshman year, Three Rivers’ An’Nyah Pettus became an unsung hero for the Lady Raiders this past season and recently signed to play for Southwest Baptist University.
“It was a great fit. It was close to home. I connected with the coach the most out of all the coaches, and I loved that it was close to Three Rivers so the fans can come to watch me play,” said Pettus, who plans to study sports management. “I felt great. It was a very tough decision ... I left it all up to God, and he gave me the answer as to what was the best college for me.”
For Pettus, it’s a bit of a return to her middle school days. She started her basketball career as a Bearcat, and she’ll finish as a Bearcat. Both jerseys are even purple and white.
Pettus, a 5-foot, 10-inch forward, led Three Rivers with 7.3 rebounds per game this season, including 2.3 offensive rebounds, while averaging 6 points, 1.9 assists, 0.5 steals, and 0.2 blocks over 19.4 minutes per game.
“Her ability to rebound and get the rebound and push it up the floor, then make the right decision, made her a mismatch from the get-go,” Three Rivers coach Alex Wiggs said. “You give me Nyah Pettus, and you give me someone who is 6-2, and I’ll take Nyah all day every day.”
She grabbed at least 10 rebounds in a game eight times this season and had a season-high 15 rebounds in a 111-53 win against State Fair, which was one of two games Pettus started for Three Rivers.
Three of those double-digit rebound games were during the Raiders’ final month of the season.
While not known as a primary scorer for the Lady Raiders — she was eighth on the team in scoring — Pettus still shot 53.3% this season and had three double-doubles.
She scored a season-high 18 points in a 45-point win over John A. Logan by shooting 7 for 11 from the field, including one of her seven made 3-pointers for the season.
One of Wiggs’ favorite memories is when Pettus once took a bad shot on a 3-point attempt, then raced down to the other end of the court and took a charge. After the play, she told her coach that she had to make up for the 3.
“We had (many players) who could score the ball very well, and Nyah knew that. She would drive and kick it to them. She would do the dirty work that not many kids like to do, which made her very special,” Wiggs said. “You hope you can find what she does in one kid, but sometimes it takes two kids to replace somebody who can do all those things ... There aren’t many 4s out there who can do the things she does.”
Pettus appeared in 15 games her freshman season and averaged 8.3 points and 6.9 rebounds off the bench.
She didn’t play until after Christmas, and then burst out with 10 points and 13 rebounds in her first game and followed that with 24 points and 10 rebounds the next night. She was 14 for 18 shooting and 6 for 7 on free throws.
She was injured again in February, missed the final game of the regular season and the Region XVI Tournament, but returned for the national tournament and played 11 minutes against Jones.
Pettus went 6 for 9 shooting for 12 points and two rebounds in 11 minutes off the bench.
While recruiting was initially quiet as she started her sophomore season, the offers started coming in following the region tournament.
“Even though that was the toughest game we ever lost, the offers started coming, so that made it better,” Pettus said. “I was excited to get my first offer, and from there, I knew that more would come in.”
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic