BUFFALO GAP – In a quiet library on the second floor of Buffalo Gap High School, Destiny Harper animatedly spoke about her senior season.
It was the kind of conversation that, just by observing, onlookers would know she was passionate about the subject.
“I don’t know what happened because last year I wasn’t the best on defense and it really aggravated me,” she said. “I’m very active on the court, but it was bothering me that I wasn’t good enough.”
At the end of her junior season, Harper set to work on improving her defensive skills. It was her major focus throughout the offseason.
A year later, Harper’s hard work has paid off. She was named to the first team for the All-Shenandoah District, All-Conference 36 and All-Region 2A East teams, and ultimately earned second-team Group 2A all-state honors.
Harper is the All-City/County Defensive Player of the Year.
Harper, who finished the season with a team-leading 124 steals and 190 rebounds, was more concerned about her overall game, rather than what the scorebook says.
“It’s kind of annoying to me, like ‘Destiny Harper got this many points,’ ” said Harper, who was a key reason for the Bison’s deep postseason run to the Group 2A state quarterfinals. “I’m not worried about points. I’m worried about getting better.
“This year, I wanted to focus on my defense because my dad has always told me, ‘When you’re not having a good game, when you’re not hitting your shots, get them on defense. Defense will make you score,’ ” she added. “I feel like me striving to be better at defense made me a better player.”
Buffalo Gap coach Phillip Morgan said it’s speaks to where she is in her dedication to the sport.
“When Destiny was focused defensively it allowed her to get some easy baskets off of turnovers, but more importantly it could also kick start our whole team and our whole offense,” Morgan said.
In a matchup against Stuarts Draft, Harper saw the hard work she put in come to fruition when she blocked a shot by the Cougars’ Paetyn Beverly, an opponent she said is “one amazing post player.”
In Harper’s final game of the season, a loss in the state quarterfinals to Floyd County, she had eight steals, giving her one of her best games of the season, even in the midst of a loss.
It was a testament to where she stood at the end of the 2015-16 season when compared to her previous season — even more, it’s set her outside the scope of just a talented player, but as a player that knows what it takes to win.