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May 15, 2013

Oller Valentine thrived during senior season

DUNCAN — When former Duncan star athlete Tina Oller Valentine was causing headaches for her opponents on the court,  high school girls basketball looked a little different than it does today.

Oller Valentine competed during the era of six-on-six ball, where each team used six players – three forwards designated for offense on one side of the court and three guards for defense on the other. Neither guards or forwards could cross half court.

“I still think we could have won more had we played five-on-five, but that didn’t happen until around two years after my graduation,” Oller Valentine said. “It was a different game because you were able to take breaks when the other team had the ball on the other end, and using a full court press was much more effective.”

Oller Valentine terrorized the opposition as the Lady Demons’ top forward, scoring 24.1 points per game during a senior year where she led Duncan to a 17-9 record and a berth in the area consolation finals as Duncan’s lone senior starter.

Twenty eight years later, those efforts will be recognized Thursday when Oller Valentine, Duncan’s first female All-State athlete, is inducted into the Duncan Athletic Hall of Fame at 1:15 p.m. in the Duncan High Auditorium.

“I was completely shocked and surprised upon finding out,” OllerValentine said. “I’m very honored to be inducted.”

Athletic success at Duncan was not limited to basketball for the inductee, as she was part of a two-mile relay team that held the school record for fastest time for more than a decade.

“It was such an exciting time to compete at Duncan because we were winning on so many levels,” Oller Valentine said. “I think we won state in football my junior and senior years too. Having the opportunity to also do well in track was a great thing.”

Her success on the court came under the leadership of her head coach Karen Berniger, who still teaches at Duncan High School.

The only difficulty the pair ever experienced was getting the chance to be on the same team in the first place.

“She came to Duncan when I was in seventh grade and she coached eighth,” Oller Valentine said. “Then I move up to eighth and she goes to ninth and when I move up to ninth, she goes to coach high school. She was a coach that cared about all of us, it was so fun playing for her.”

Oller Valentine said that while she was trying to decide on where to attend college, Beringer would drive her to the campuses to help narrow down the choices.

“That’s not something you’d see coaches do today,” Oller Valentine said. “It just showed how much she cared about all of us.”

With dreams of attending Oklahoma, Oller Valentine played junior college basketball for a year before becoming a Sooner. It was at that time that she stopped playing.

“I was just ready to try different things in my life,” Oller Valentine said. “I was happy with all I had accomplished and was ready for something else.”

After attending OU, the high school basketball star followed her interest in education, teaching middle school at Broken Bow and Moore before becoming a teacher in Edmond, where she has lived for the last eight years.

As she prepares to return home, Oller Valentine calls Duncan a place that she “loved growing up in.”

“It was the place to be growing up. Businesses were booming and the town was growing a lot,” she said. “When people said they were going to ‘the town,’ they meant Duncan.”

 

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