HARLINGEN — Senior Ariel Leal wrapped up her brilliant career at Harlingen High and secured her college future Tuesday.
Leal signed to play basketball at Dallas Christian College, putting a bow on her senior season.
“This means so much to me,” Leal said. “It was troubling for me at first to find a college for me to go to. Once I was there on campus, I was able to try out and meet the players and coaches and I felt very comfortable, and it helped me decide on where I wanted to be, and I do feel some nerves today but excited at the same time to further my career.”
Leal was a four-year letter winner for the Lady Cardinals, who won two district titles in her four years and a bi-district title in each of her four years. They reached the third round of the playoffs twice.
“I have been on campus, it is a nice school, the buildings are close to each other so I won’t have to drive to my classes,” Leal said. “The coaching staff was great. She was very encouraging and up front with me.”
Leal had a strong senior year and was instrumental in helping Harlingen High to a 31-6 record and a 10-0 district run. The point guard averaged 7.6 points per game, 3.1 rebounds, 2.9 steals and 4.6 assists per game, and was named the Valley Morning Star’s Most Valuable Player.
The road to her senior year wasn’t an easy one, as Leal overcame a season-ending knee injury in the playoffs during her junior season. At first, Leal wasn’t sure what her future held, but she knew she would return to the court.
“Honestly I wasn’t too sure about this day, but now that it is here I’m enjoying it, and it is such a blessing to be signing. It means so much to have all this support, and this is one of the best days of my life. I never expected this, and to see everyone here support me means a lot.”
Leal’s coach, Ashley Moncivaiz, had nothing but high praise for her senior after watching Leal grow throughout her four years.
“She has meant a lot to the program,” Moncivaiz said. “She came in with heart and passion about what she likes to do, and the girls fed off of it and it made our program follow her lead. Whenever she faced an injury or anything on the court, she was always someone we knew we could turn to and lead by example.”