Colby-Sawyer sophomore Tianna Sugars looks to make a pass against University of Maine at Farmington last month. Sugars, a former standout at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, is the Chargers’ leadins scorer this season. (John Quackenbos photos)

A caller to Tianna Sugars’ phone waits several rings until she seemingly picks up.

“Hi,” she says before pausing long enough for the caller on the other end to start talking.

Then comes, “Bye. I’m not here.”


When she returns the call and is told that she’s talking to someone who fell for her trick, she laughs.


“Yeah,” she said. “That was old me.”

New Tianna is a sophomore on the Colby-Sawyer College women’s basketball team. She’s become a different player in the two years since she was a standout on the court for Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.

“She’s become more of a presence on the court,” Chargers coach George Martin said. “She’s demanding the ball, she’s looking for her offense. She’s doing all those kinds of things that we’ve asked her to do.”

The 6-foot-tall Sugars’ strength was defense at Oxford Hills. Last year, as a freshman at Colby-Sawyer, she spent about 16 minutes each game as a role player.

This season, she has transformed into the Chargers’ go-to player on offense. Sugars leads the team with a 13.8 points-per-game average. She has scored in double figures in 20 of Colby-Sawyer’s 24 games.

All that while still playing stout defense and pulling down a team-high 9.9 rebounds per game.


“She’s been playing awesome. She’s had an outstanding season,” Martin said. “She’s doing it on both ends, she’s scoring, she’s playing defense, she’s rebounding the ball really well. So she’s had an outstanding year in all aspects of the game.”

Last season, the Chargers had a pair of senior post players that played ahead of Sugars. All she had to do was fit in.

She knew her role would expand in 2017-18. But she didn’t know it would be this much.

“I’m pretty surprised,” Sugars said. “I honestly was expected to not be — I don’t know, maybe not the go-to person, and just kind of riding the wave, I guess you could say … and not being such a big part of the team.”

She said realized her new offensive powers, or their potential, at the season-opening Cave Classic tournament at Bridgewater State. After scoring nine points in the first game, she put up a career-high 22 in the second.

“I don’t like to be a selfish person, so I like to see others do good, I like to pass the ball more,” Sugars said. “But then when I realized I can (score), too, and still pass the ball, and everyone gets their points — I think that was my turning point in scoring.”


Sugars was named the MVP of the two-day tournament.

“I think that award really helped me realize that I am capable, and I should be scoring, I should be one of the main focuses on the team,” Sugars said.

Such affirmation has continued to come throughout the season.

Last week she was named the North Atlantic Conference women’s basketball player of the week for the second time this season. The week before, she received her third New England Women’s Basketball Association honor roll recognition.

Sugars’ performance is also paying off for the team.

The Chargers (20-5, 15-3 NAC) concluded the regular season Saturday with a 68-43 win over Johnson State College, their fourth straight victory. They’ve earned the No. 2 seed at this week’s NAC tournament, which gives them a bye through the quarterfinals and an automatic berth into Friday’s semifinals.


Colby-Sawyer’s second win of the current four-game streak came on the road against top-seeded Castleton on Feb. 6.

With the game tied in the final seconds of regulation, the Chargers fed the ball to Sugars, who scored a layup with 2.9 seconds left to give Colby-Sawyer the win.

The Chargers fell behind by 13 points in the third quarter of that game, but got back into the game with a 9-0 run that was highlighted by Sugars’ first collegiate 3-pointer.

Martin said that Sugars is one of the team’s best 3-point shooters in practice, but it wasn’t until Feb. 2 that she attempted one in a game this year (she has attempted six since, making only the one).

“It was pretty cool,” Sugars said. “It was a really crucial moment, too, because it just turned around the game. And I feel like, as a big, hitting a 3, it’s an accomplishment, because that’s not usually what I do.”

“It was a big confidence-booster,” she added. “It was a big moment for me to actually shoot in a game.”


All of this offense is great stuff, but Sugars hasn’t forgotten her roots, and stopping someone from scoring still means more to her than scoring on someone.

“I’ll always love defense,” she said. “I’ll always love a defensive play more than scoring. I get more hype on a block than shooting. I’m starting to like (offense) more, but I think defense will always be my No. 1 thing.”

Sugars is majoring in sport management, and wants to be a basketball coach after she’s done playing. More specifically, an NBA coach.

“I want to be a coach in the NBA,” she said. “I think that would be really cool. That’s my main goal in life.”

But first, she has hopes for the conference tournament.

“Win the NAC,” she said. “I don’t care if I have two points, 20 points, I just want to win the NAC. That’s the goal, and then to go from there and see how far we go.”

Colby-Sawyer sophomore Tianna Sugars dribbles past University of Maine at Farmington’s Adlin Shaparin during a game last month in New London, New Hampshire. Sugars, a former standout at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, is the Chargers’ leadins scorer this season. (John Quackenbos photos)

Colby-Sawyer sophomore Tianna Sugars shoots over University of Maine at Farmington’s Paige Carter during a game last month in New London, New Hampshire. Sugars, a former standout at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, is the Chargers’ leadins scorer this season. (John Quackenbos photos)

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