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Harlem's L'Tia Lawrence named HDN Female Athlete of the Year


Last updated 1/22/2021 at 8:20am

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

At Harlem High School, L'Tia Lawrence was a three-sport star, but basketball was always her first love, and while she was a Wildcat, the Harlem girls program reached new heights. Lawrence also became a Montana State University-Northern Skylight in the process.

The end of her high school career wasn't easy. That's when COVID-19 first took hold in Montana, including in Harlem. And yet, nothing, including a global pandemic, can take away the kind of high school highlights that L'Tia Lawrence had.

And for her incredible run as a three-sport athlete in Harlem, which then carried over to playing two different sports at Montana State University-Northern, Lawrence has been named the Havre Daily News Female Athlete of the Year for 2020.

Lawrence is currently a freshman guard on the MSU-Northern women's basketball team, but before she arrived at Northern, she put together quite the career in Harlem - and not just on the hardwood.

In cross country, Lawrence placed at the Class B state meet three times, including fourth in the girls race as a freshman, 11th as a sophomore and an outstanding third in the fall of 2019, her senior year. That finish at the state meet began a great run for Lawrence, which carried over into basketball, where she led Harlem last winter to another state tournament berth while being named Class B All-State for the third year in a row. Lawrence was also a four-time First-Team All-Conference performer on the basketball court, and as a senior she was elected to the prestigious Montana-Wyoming All-State Series, which, along with HIT and other events, was canceled because of the pandemic.

Basketball season would eventually bring Lawrence' señor season to an end, as spring sports waere also called off. Had she competed in track, though, she would have been a favorite to win state titles in both the 1,600 and 3,200 meters. In 2019, Lawrence was a state champion in the 3,200 and placed second in the 1,600, which, shows what an outstanding all-around athlete she was in her time at Harlem.

"To be a three-sport athlete was just a normal thing for me, sports is a big thing in our house, it was kind of a way of life for me and my brothers growing up," Lawrence said. "I love basketball and I played it year round and running cross country and track helped me stay in shape for basketball, but I did enjoy competing in both. So I guess being a three sport athlete was very important to me."

Of course, basketball was indeed where she shined. For the last three high school seasons, Lawrence averaged more than 20 points per game, was one of Harlem's all-time leading scorers and, eventually, she signed early with MSU-Northern. And while at Northern, Lawrence was able to get back to being a multi-sport athletes, if only for a day or two, as she ran some cross country for the Skylights back in the fall.

"It felt great to lace back up the shoes and get back out there to run and compete," Lawrence said, "I enjoyed it a lot. As far as running again, I would be happy to run again for Northern, but I would first have to sit down with coach Moaut and coach Spangler and discuss it first."

Whether she runs again or not, Lawrence will always be a multi-sport athlete who had a dominant high school career on and off the basketball court. That career, unfortunately didn't quite get finished, and that wasn't fun for Lawrence and countless other student-athletes in the Class of 2020. But, in time, she was able to put it all in perspective, which is just another great quality about Lawrence, who is headed for a very bright future with the Skylights and beyond.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Though she came to MSU-N to play hoops, L'Tia Lawrence has already also competed in cross country for the Skylights. Lawrence was a state champion distance runner in track and field, and an All-State performer in XC in Harlem.

"The way things ended up it was really surreal," Lawrence said of 2020. "It was my last year of high school and it was not what I expected, or what anybody expected I guess. In the fall I placed third at the State Cross Country meet, my highest in my high school career, so I was happy about that. In the winter we had another great basketball season and it was a lot of fun. We made it back to the state tournament and we were focused on bringing some hardware back for our community and school. When we got the word the games got canceled because of COVID, I was in disbelief and sad, then we switched to online school and sports got canceled. I felt robbed and it was all unfair that we could not finish our last year of high school the way we wanted. I felt robbed because I did not get to run track, play in the HIT, Treasure State, or the Montana-Wyoming All Star Series or get the full experience of high school graduation. It was all just taken away due to COVID-19.

"Looking back at it now, though, I am thankful to be here today, healthy and doing what I love to do," she added. "COVID has taken so many lives not only in the world but in my own community in Fort Belknap. COVID has changed so many things in our way of life, but I think we are all doing the best we can to stay safe to get through this."


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