The Grind, Presented by Bank of Clarendon: Crestwood's Farmer looks to lead the young Lady Knights


Tashiana Farmer has seen it all throughout her time at Crestwood.

She's seen the highs of a deep playoff run and the lows of a season devastated by COVID-19. Now, as a junior, Farmer is taking charge as a leader for the Lady Knights.

"I'm ready," Farmer said. "I'm locked in ready."


Farmer is used to being center stage on the court.

She was star at the former Mayewood Middle School. While she towered over most middle schoolers, Farmer played point guard. She was so good that Crestwood head coach Tony Wilson immediately called her up to varsity as a freshman.

Playing on a team full of upperclassmen, she earned a spot in the starting lineup, playing big minutes on an excellent Crestwood squad.

"It was fun," Farmer said of her freshman season. "My ninth-grade year was my best year in high school. I was the baby of the group, so they treated me like the baby. But they taught me how to toughen up and how to take responsibility for what I did."

It wasn't just fun because Farmer was starting. The Lady Knights were good.

Crestwood won Region IV-4A with a 9-1 region record. They finished 22-6 overall and even earned a win over county rival Sumter High. They went into the playoffs with a first-round bye and were primed to make a run in the playoffs.

Despite the success, Farmer said her freshman season wasn't a breeze. She was suddenly playing a new position after primarily being a ball-handler in middle school. She put a lot of pressure on herself as the freshman on a team of seniors, demanding perfection of herself.

"I felt like I couldn't mess up," Farmer said. "In middle school, I was an all-around player. I did everything. In high school, they put me in the post, so I had to learn how to do drop steps, all of the post moves. It was hard because I didn't know which way to turn."

Farmer eventually figured out her footwork and became an integral part of the team. After getting a bye in the first round, Crestwood opened the playoffs at home against Airport. The Lady Knights cruised to a 51-32 win, setting up a rematch with Wilson, which Crestwood split games with in the regular season.

"That was the best time of my high school years. When we played Wilson, that gym was so packed," Farmer said. "It was cool, but I was nervous. That was my first time playing in front of a big crowd on a big stage with a lot of lights."

The Lady Knights were able to defend The Castle and come away with a 58-49 win, earning a spot in the lower state championship against North Augusta. Crestwood lost that game 58-32, capping off an important year for Farmer's development as a player. That season also solidified one thing for Farmer.

"If I could go back to ninth grade, I would do it. We had good chemistry, that was the big thing. We were like a family," Farmer said. "(The seniors) taught me a lot. They taught me how to be focused and how to win."


After an impressive freshman year, Farmer was ready to make the leap as a sophomore. Then COVID-19 hit.

Crestwood's season was demolished, as the Lady Knights played just eight games. They played three before a long break when Sumter School District shut down for most of December and January. When they returned, they had very little time to practice before being thrust into region play.

An early loss to Manning put Crestwood in a hole that the Lady Knights couldn't dig out of. The playoffs were limited to just two teams per region, and the loss to Manning left Crestwood in third.

"We didn't know where to turn. We came back and had like one practice, and the next day was game day. It was just so stressful," Farmer said of her sophomore season. "We couldn't learn each other. We couldn't put up shots in the gym. When we came back, it felt like all of the pressure was on us because we didn't know each other, and half of us were out of shape."

That season was hard on Farmer also because she was thrust into a leadership role quickly. A total of six seniors from her freshman year graduated. Suddenly Farmer was one of the more experienced players alongside senior Shania Davis.

"I had to become a leader real fast because they looked up to me. I felt like I was just in the ninth grade yesterday," Farmer said. "I felt like I had to grow up fast."


Now in her junior season, Farmer is the only Lady Knight who has even played a full season at the varsity level.

Not only is Crestwood inexperienced, but they're also young. The Lady Knights are built around Farmer's junior class, along with a slew of freshmen and sophomores. There's even an eighth-grader in the mix.

While they have two seniors, Farmer is being asked to lead the pack. Her experience as a freshman is starting to pay off because she can relate to her underclassmen.

After putting a world of pressure on herself early in her career, Farmer is trying to make sure this year's team avoids that burden.

"You just have to tell them to keep pushing, keep staying locked in and just have fun," Farmer said. "Don't overwhelm yourself and stress yourself out if you don't make a shot or if a play doesn't go your way."


One of the people who helped Farmer learn how to become the leader she is today is Ron McBride.

McBride served as an assistant coach for his cousin, Wilson, the head coach, before passing away in the spring from COVID-19. Farmer lives in a single-parent household, and she grew to see McBride as a father figure.

"Long live Coach T-Bone. He meant a lot to me," she said. "He pushed us. If coach would get on us, he would tell us 'Shake it off. You're good. Go out there and dominate, and do what your game is.'"

The Lady Knights are dedicating this season to McBride's memory. The only thing Farmer can think to do now is win for him.

"We've got to do what he wanted us to do," Farmer said. "He wouldn't want us to give up. He'd want us to keep pushing, even if we lost, just keep your head up. When the next game comes, go beast mode on them."

As Farmer learned surrounded by a great group of seniors during her freshman season, the Crestwood basketball team is her family. McBride served as a father for so many players, and Wilson continues to do the same.

"It's everything," Farmer said. "I wouldn't trade it for nothing."