SAN ANTONIO - Twelve months ago, Lauren Ware was in the midst of rehabbing a torn left ACL that kept her out of her senior year at Bismarck Century.
Fast forward today and Ware just completed a historic season for North Dakota basketball standards. Her Arizona Wildcats lost to Stanford in the women's national championship game 54-53 Sunday night. Ware played 11 minutes in the title game, becoming the first North Dakota woman to play in the Final Four and the national title game.
"It's really crazy I used to watch these teams. This is what you dream of, to get to the Final Four. It's just a really cool experience for sure." Ware said.
Ware seemed unfazed that she's a freshman at the Final Four. The former two-time state champion at Bismarck Century has seamlessly transitioned to a role player on an Arizona team that made history this year, reaching its first Final Four.
"I wanted to be able to go to a place to make an impact right away and be able to contribute to the team."
Ware has played in every game so far this year for Arizona, which will be a rarity going forward. Ware intends to play volleyball in the fall next year for Arizona, another sport she dominated in in high school.
"Basketball was starting first, it was a better decision for me. This will be the only year get to play a full year with basketball, starting next year I'll miss the non-conference season."
"It's something we've seen from her development as a freshman, to see what she's doing at that level, missing her senior season it's phenomenal." Bismarck Century head coach Ron Metz said. "I've always said she's had a great sense for the game, her ability to see things and direct things."
As the Wildcats road thru March continued, more fans in North Dakota started to pay attention to Ware's play, which came as a surprise to her.
"It's amazing it's a great feeling. I had a lot of girls that would message me, how big a fan they are of me, motivates me even more, never though it would be like this, it's pretty cool."