Audry Hornaday speaks after signs a national letter of intent to Texas A&M International at Sharyland Pioneer High School on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, in Mission. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

MISSION — Sharyland Pioneer’s Audry Hornaday has made a name for herself when it comes to setting program firsts on the basketball court.

She helped the Diamondbacks capture their first district championship, lock up their first perfect run through district competition and play deeper into the postseason than ever before during her four-year varsity career.

Hornaday, however, played the part of pioneer for the Diamondbacks’ girls basketball program again Wednesday afternoon when she signed to play collegiately at Texas A&M-International in Laredo, becoming the first Pioneer’s program history.

“This is just such an honor and a blessing to be where I am today,” Hornaday said. “It just feels like God really had my back. … He told me, ‘Don’t give up, keep going.’ I am where I am today because of Him and because of everyone else who is supporting me including my family, my mom, my parents and my coaches.”

Hornaday’s senior season was one filled with firsts, too.

On top of landing the program’s first collegiate playing opportunity, the D’backs’ star forward became the first player in program history to surpass 1,000 career points despite missing her junior season due to a knee injury.

Pioneer’s Audry Hornaday runs the floor for the West team during the Girls All-Star game at the Bert Ogden Arena on Saturday, April 24, 2021, in Edinburg. (Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | [email protected])

In her return to the court as a senior, though, Hornaday helped lead Sharyland Pioneer to its first wins in school history in both the area round and regional quarterfinals against Victoria West and East before advancing to the Class 5A Sweet 16 for the first time to face Georgetown.

She became the first Rio Grande Valley girls basketball player to be selected for the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Class 5A-6A All-Star game since Edinburg High’s Marah Guzman in 2006 and led all players in scoring with 14 during the RGV Vipers All-Valley Showcase.

“I was playing with All-Americans. I was playing with a UT commit and I was playing with a Tennessee commit. Being able to play with such a high-caliber team, it’s phenomenal,” Hornaday said. “They’re just all so talented, and it was an amazing experience just to be a part of those 24 girls up there.”

“I think it was one of the best moments of my career. The RGV has shown so much love my entire four years they’ve always been behind me, and to go up there and to rep them and show them how much I love them and care for the Valley was an amazing experience.”

Hornaday finished her senior season averaging 11.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 3.4 steals per game on a career-high 43% shooting clip from the field.

Audry Hornaday holds up her national letter of intent to Texas A&M International after signing it at Sharyland Pioneer High School on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, in Mission. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

The D’backs’ senior was honored with District 31-5A’s co-Player of the Year award, All-District First Team and All-Defensive distinctions as well. She was also named a TABC Class 5A First Team All-Region and TABC 5A First Team All-State selection.

Hornaday was named The Monitor’s 2020-21 All-Area Girls Basketball Comeback Player of the Year and the RGV Basketball Coaches Association choice for Sub-6A All-Valley Player of the Year.

“I’m going to remember the girls on my team,” she said. “I’m going to remember those moments where we hold each other so close after those wins and knowing that we had one more game or holding my coaches when we finally heard that buzzer go off and we were on the winning side for the first time. I’ll remember them always being there with me during my toughest times and there with me when I was on top.”

Hornaday hopes she’ll be the first of many future Diamondbacks who make the jump to collegiate hoops.

“It’s saddening to know that I’m leaving behind so many people who have helped me get to where I am today, some of the people that I love that are so close to my heart,” she said. “But I know it’s something that we’ve all looked forward to.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @ByAndyMcCulloch