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Tara Hinderliter Relishing Every Moment in First — and Final — Basketball Season at Penn State DuBois

DuBOIS, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Tara Hinderliter has precious little time left.

She thought basketball would be endless. The Redbank Valley graduate and sophomore on the Penn State DuBois women’s basketball team figured there would always be a next game.

Soon — far too soon for Hinderliter — there won’t. Soon, it will be a day of lasts.

A last time to lace up the sneakers. A last time to be introduced to clapping and cheering fans. A last time to take a jumper, grab a rebound, celebrate a hard-fought win.

For Hinderliter, a hoop ride that began in kindergarten will reach its final destination.

“It’s going to be hard,” Hinderliter admitted. “And really sad.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

Hinderliter grew up with a basketball court in her back yard. The game formed her first memories. She began dribbling a basketball when she was still dribbling while sleeping in her crib.

She scored more than 1,400 points in her career with the Bulldogs, second on the all-time list behind her sister, Brooke, who finished with 1,997.

Hinderliter moved on to Penn State DuBois with the knowledge that her career there would be limited to two seasons. That was OK. She had her career in early childhood education to think about first and she planned to finish up her degree at Clarion University.

But the COVID pandemic stole a season from Hinderliter in 2020-21. Suddenly, the guard would have just one collegiate season.

She was going to make the most of it.

“It was pretty hard losing that year,” Hinderliter said. “Just because of the fact I was only going to play two anyway and this was going to be my last year. Now, it’s my only year. But I’m making the best out of it and bringing everything I have to this season.”

Hinderliter admitted she was pressing early because the fact she had just one year was rattling around in her head. She wanted to make every shot, every drive, every rebound count.

“I was in my own head,” she said.

After a talk with her father and sister, she relaxed.

Since, Hinderliter has been dominant for Penn State DuBois. She’s averaging 19.3 points and eight rebounds in her last four games for the 3-7 Lions. For the season, she’s putting up nearly 15 points per game.

“I’m having fun with it now,” Hinderliter said. “Before, I was like, ‘Oh, I have to do this.’ I’m just trying to have fun in my first and last year.”

Penn State DuBois women’s basketball coach Pat Lewis said he didn’t sense urgency from Hinderliter, but passion.

“Tara has always played with a great deal of passion every time she steps on the court,” Lewis said. “Tara is an aggressive player, both offensively and defensively. She isn’t hesitant ti play against anyone and plays with heart. She’s a fantastic teammate, and because of that, she is one of our leaders.”

It’s been a trying two years for the Lions’ program. Penn State DuBois lost last season to the pandemic and renovations to the gym has put the team on the road for every game this season.

The “Road Warriors,” as Lewis and Hinderliter call the Lions, are treating it, not as a hinderance, but as a challenge.

“We are all disappointed at losing a COVID season, but since we have no control over some things in life, Tara has decided to make the most out of this season,” Lewis said.

Hinderliter said the many long treks on the bus have created a strong team bond.

Penn State DuBois had to make a 10-hour, round-trip journey to play a pair of games this season.

How do they spend the time?

“Crazy Eights,” Hinderliter said, chuckling.

The best Crazy Eights player on the team?

“That would probably be Sara (DeHaas),” Hinderliter said.

As far as her Crazy Eights game, it’s not where Hinderliter wants it to be. Too many eights stuck in her hand.

Hinderliter hopes to keep piling up the twos and threes on the court, however.

And when it is over, she knows she will carry with her a lifetime of memories.

“It’s going to be really sad, but I just have to tell myself to play well in my last game and go out with a bang,” Hinderliter said.

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.