Vidalia High School sophomore Tierra Bell will be traveling with her mother Tyberia, right, to Australia next July to represent her school and her state on the Louisiana State Girls basketball team in the Down Under Sports basketball tournament. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

Scholar athlete: Vidalia’s Bell ready to represent city in overseas tournament

Published 12:01am Thursday, November 15, 2012

VIDALIA — Vidalia High School point guard Tierra Bell made sure to keep the letter.

The letter in question arrived in late September at Vidalia High School from Down Under Sports, alerting Bell to the fact that she had been selected to represent her state and country in the Down Under Hoops Classic in mid-July.

When the news sunk in for the Vidalia sophomore, Bell said she was both surprised and thrilled.

“I was happy,” Bell said. “I wasn’t expecting it.”

Bell’s mother, Tyberia Bell, said her daughter’s excitement couldn’t be contained.

“She was over-excited,” Tyberia said. “She called everyone in the family to let them know she got the letter.”

Tierra said she left the note in the team’s locker room so her mom, who is an assistant for the Vidalia girls, could see it.

“My first reaction was, I was proud,” Tyberia said. “My next reaction was, how am I going to get all this money together (or the trip)?”

Tierra will play for the North Central Conference Team in the Down Under Hoops Classic. Other than a trip to the Bahamas, it will be Tierra’s first trip outside the country. The classic lasts nine days, with two days of travel and seven days of competition.

“This is big,” Tierra said. “To represent my state and my school, I have big shoes to fill. On the online meeting, I learned that some people who played in the tournament went on to play in the NBA.”

Tierra is the youngest of three, with her two older brothers, A.J. and Xavier, being her primary playing partners when she first learned to play.

“I’ve been playing since I was little,” Tierra said. “I used to play in YBA. My brothers help me out. When they don’t go easy on me, I learn a lot.”

Tierra said AJ has helped her the most with her basketball skills, and he’s currently trying to help her learn how to play the post.

“You have to use more of your body and think a little more to know which way to go,” Tierra said. “At the point, you control the play and control the court.”

The Lady Vikings are looking for Tierra to play a more versatile role this season, which is why she’s trying to get the hang of post play, she said. She also said the two positions are vastly different to play.

“In the post, you use your whole upper body and legs more,” Tierra said. “At point guard, you use your arms and eyes, and you have to see the whole court. With the post, you have to see the side of the court the ball is on, where it is and where the goal is — and the lane. You have to make sure you don’t get (a three-second lane violation).”

Tierra made the honor role during the first nine weeks of the fall semester at Vidalia, and she currently has a grade-point average above 3.0. She has regularly made the principal’s list, and she said one of her main goals is to make the superintendent’s list.

“Without grades, you can’t play basketball, and grades will help me out my senior year and help me make it to college,” Tierra said. “I have to have good grades to do most things.”

Tierra said she doesn’t know where she wants to go to college, but she would prefer going to a big city. She is the daughter of the late Alvin Bell and the stepdaughter of Philip “Dean” Bowman.