Tech Tidbits: Response to Adversity Leads to Victory

ClaraGrace Prater 12-5-2023
Arkansas Tech's ClaraGrace Prater handles the basketball during the Golden Suns' 69-64 win over Maryville University on Tuesday.

Tough times generally yield one of two responses: withdrawal or resilience.

Arkansas Tech University’s ClaraGrace Prater chose the latter, and as a result, the Golden Suns escaped with a needed 69-64 victory over Maryville University on Tuesday.

ATU’s women (4-2) have turned the basketball over at a high rate the last three games. It’s been a tough week to be a point guard for the Golden Suns. Prater is among that group. After starting the first five games of the season, she came off the bench against Maryville.

With the game on the line in the closing moments, Prater was back on the floor. She dove on a loose ball with 59 seconds remaining, blocked a shot and grabbed the rebound with 10 seconds left and made two subsequent free throws to seal the victory.

It was the definition of resiliency.

“(Prater) made a couple of big plays and then made two free throws, and the way the game was going we needed those free throws at the end,” said Dave Wilbers, ATU head women’s basketball coach. “That’s what we need out of those experienced players who have been through this before…to show some good composure like that and make some plays.”

Times couldn’t be much better for the Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys (5-2). They have won five games in a row and will have an opportunity to secure their first winning streak of six games or longer in six years when they play at Henderson State University this weekend.

ATU junior guard Taelon Peter of Russellville is the reigning Great American Conference and NCAA Division II men’s basketball player of the week. Over the Wonder Boys’ last three games, Peter is averaging 30 points per contest while shooting 63 percent (15-of-24) from 3-point range.

I’ve had the privilege of regularly attending Arkansas Tech basketball games for nigh on 35 years. Peter is playing as well as any Wonder Boy I have witnessed during that time.

“I can’t say enough about Taelon Peter,” said ATU head men’s basketball coach Mark Downey after Arkansas Tech’s 87-69 win over Central Baptist College on Tuesday. “The kid’s the national Division II player of the week. He’s just a really good player and I’m glad he’s here. He’s leading our team and doing everything we thought he could do.”

The Arkansas Tech-Henderson State doubleheader on Saturday, Dec. 9, is scheduled for 1 and 3 p.m. at the Duke Wells Center in Arkadelphia.

Live coverage of both ATU-HSU games will be available over KCJC 102.3 FM, and the EAB Media Group app.

Talk to you on the radio.

Tech Tidbits is a column written by Sam Strasner, ATU director of university relations and radio play-by-play voice for ATU football and basketball.