Tara Lierman learned early on a need to be tough.
It came at home as the youngest child in an athletic family.
And it also came on the basketball court when she was playing with her older sisters’ fourth-grade team while in kindergarten.
“I have two older brothers and an older sister and you have to be tough in the Lierman household,” Lierman said. “Right off the get-go I had to learn how to be mentally tough. We didn’t cry, we didn’t pout. I just learned to suck it up and deal with whatever was thrown my way and that definitely helped me in a sports aspect and being competitive and not giving up.”
That mental toughness was important this season for Lierman and the Holt girls basketball team. The Rams’ high expectations for the season were altered when they lost Western Michigan commit Kamrin Reed in their opener. Holt lost starter Lauren Seagren to injury in the season’s middle stages, but Lierman made sure that didn’t define the Rams.
Lierman elevated her play to help Holt overcome those losses to earn a share of the CAAC Blue title with Grand Ledge and East Lansing. And the senior guard leads the LSJ girls basketball Dream Team as the player of the year.
“My dad has always told me to always give it my all and just do what I can do,” Lierman said. “This year when things happened the way they did, I just told myself to do as much as I could. It might work out in your favor or it might not. Fortunately it did. I just did as much as I could to be successful and it worked out.”
Lierman had quadruple and triple-doubles this season while helping the Rams to a 15-8 record. She averaged 22.0 points, 6.1 assists and 3.5 steals during the regular season and helped Holt win eight of its final 10 games.
“She made our team way better,” veteran Holt coach Doug Harkema said. “I think the situation — there’s always a reason for what happens I believe and she got to show what she does. People want to give me credit for turning it around and she’s the one deserving of a lot of it.”
Lierman, who is signed to play soccer at Grand Valley, surpassed 1,000 career points this season and set school career records in assists and steals while earning Associated Press first team Class A all-state honors and being named to the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Best of Best all-state team.
“Never in a million years would I have thought I would have broken this many records,” Lierman said. “There’s been a lot of phenomenal basketball players to go through Holt. Harkema didn’t even tell me I was breaking records. He just let me do my thing and that was the best part about it. I was just playing as hard as I could and I was just lucky enough to have done some good things for the record books.”
More rewarding than the individual records for Lierman was helping the Rams overcome the injuries to earn a share of the league title. And Lierman’s refuse to lose demeanor is one of the things that impressed her coaches the most.
“I knew from a young age that she was really going to be a special player and the fact that she put this team on her back after the loss of Kam was just incredible,” Holt assistant Annie Jenkins said.
“She never thinks that we’re going to lose. She always thinks that there’s a way to win a game and takes a lot of responsibility of whether we win or lose on her.”