By Rick Atkinson

For the Anna-Melissa Tribune

February has been a fine month indeed for former Melissa High basketball star Katie Webb.

On Feb. 6, the senior forward for Southeastern Oklahoma State University became the school’s No. 2 all-time leading scorer with her 19-point effort versus Oklahoma Baptist at Shawnee, Okla. Webb’s outing in that 86-53 Savage Storm win put her at 1,461 career points, surpassing Jessica Hocker’s 12-year-old SOSU mark of 1,448 points.

Not only that, but two days later on the Storm’s home court in Durant, Okla., Webb hit the game-winning, buzzer-beater shot to top Southern Nazarene in a battle of first-place teams. She finished that contest with 21 points and 10 rebounds, and the victory pushed the Storm’s Great American Conference record to 12-4 with six games left in the regular season.

For these performances and more, Webb was named GAC Women’s Basketball Player of the Week – her third such honor this season.

“It was just a mid-range jump shot, which is funny because that is my shot,” Webb said recently by phone of reaching her 1,461st point. “After the game it was pretty exciting for me and my parents.”

SOSU Hall of Famer Crystal Robinson holds the top scoring spot with 3,023 points, collected from 1992 to 1996.

Being on the road when Webb’s milestone was set, there was no stop-down moment to recognize the achievement. “I was perfectly fine with not being recognized after it,” Webb said. “But the next day before practice, [Storm head coach Darin Grover] made a point to recognize me and they were all pretty excited. That was nice.

“It really made me realize that hard work pays off - and picking a place that was a good fit for me really paid off in the end.”

What makes these events extra-special is that Webb suffered a season-ending knee injury last year while leading the conference in scoring and on-track to win GAC Player of the Year. And the year before that, her season was cut short due to a foot injury.

Webb’s name will now be among those prominently displayed on a wall inside Bloomer Sullivan Arena, home of the Storm – just as she told her father would happen when they walked past it on her first visit to the campus.

“I said, ‘Dad, I’m going to be on that wall,’” Webb recalled. “That has been one of my goals from the very beginning. My coach, when he was recruiting me, said, ‘You have a chance to play as a freshman. You have a chance to make it on to the all-time scoring and rebounding wall.’ I feel blessed to make it on to both, and am still climbing.” Yes, Webb is also among SOSU’s all-time top rebounders, currently coming in at No. 6 with 688 boards.

Webb is the daughter of Claude and Susie Webb.

Claude Webb was director of girls’ athletics at Melissa High School from 2007 to 2019 and was the Lady Cards’ head basketball coach as well until 2015 - the year Katie Webb graduated. Claude coached Melissa to 11 playoff appearances and nine district titles, and now serves as an administrator for Melissa ISD.

“It’s awesome,” he said at a recent Lady Cards basketball game. “She has worked so hard for this. We stressed that individual awards don’t matter but, in this case, I said, ‘You’ve earned this. This is OK.’ All of those thousands of games and practices paid off.… More than anything she wants to win a championship.”

Both Claude and Susie were on hand for each of Webb’s recent highlight moments. In fact, they never miss a game. Susie keeps stats and Claude, of course, studies the game.

“Once the game starts,” he said, “all I’m thinking about is, ‘Are we winning the game?’ All that individual stuff just disappears for me. At halftime, Susie said, ‘Katie’s got 12 points,’ and I go, ‘She only needed 8 to move into No. 2!’ It wasn’t like we were tracking it. We just kind of figured it out.”

During Katie Webb’s tenure at Melissa, she led the Lady Cards to four-straight seasons without a district loss - earning three District MVP awards and an All-State pick along the way. Webb averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds per game at Melissa as she and her teammates kept “The Bird Cage” hopping.

On Webb’s winning play versus Nazarene Southern, SOSU had the ball with 20 seconds left in a tie game. The Storm ran a “five-out” - spreading everyone out to the perimeter - and when the ball was kicked out for a 3-point try with three seconds to go, Webb’s defender went for the shooter. That left Webb open to maneuver for a potential rebound.

“I just saw it in the air,” she said, “and knew if they missed it I had to try to do something to put it back in.”

That she did, grabbing the rebound as the clock rolled through one second left and - without touching back down - arching the ball into the net with three-tenths of a second to spare. Fouled on the play, Webb sank the free throw for the 63-60 win.

As for her knee, Webb said, “It’s good, I’m completely well. I’ve been able to play every game. We took it slow getting back into the full five-on-fives. That really helped me.”

At this writing, SOSU had a good shot at the regular-season GAC title, with the conference tournament to follow. “We’re feeling really good,” Webb said. “I’m just so glad to have a senior year go like this. It’s been great.”