Former Fayetteville star has no regrets
FAYETTEVILLE — Cari Tanneberger Humphry recalls only parts of Fayetteville’s epic eight-overtime win over Mountain Home in 1994.
The 6-foot-1 senior poured in a game-high 36 points and grabbed 25 rebounds, which still stands as a state record, to help the Lady Purple Bulldogs to their second consecutive state title and earn Most Valuable Player honors. That was a great encore after her 26-point, 13-rebound performance in Fayetteville’s overtime win against Bryant in the finals a year earlier.
“There are moments in that game I’ll never forget,” Humphry said. “It’s nothing short of a miracle that I didn’t foul out.”
Humphry picked up her fourth foul two minutes into the fourth quarter and played the final 30 minutes of the 56-minute game without getting her fifth. She was the only starter who didn’t foul out of the game, and coach Mary Frances Kretschmar said her standout never came out of the game.
“I remember taking a charge in the fourth quarter, which was stupid,” Humphry said. “Then I looked up into the stands and, finding my dad, and he’s shaking his head
like ‘I can’t believe you did that.’”
If that call had gone against her, Humphry wouldn’t have been around to hit a baseline 3-pointer to force a third overtime and make two free throws at the end of the fourth overtime time to keep the Lady Purple Bulldogs’ hopes alive. She finally ended it by hitting a short baseline jumper late in the eighth overtime that proved to be the game-winner.
Kretschmar, like her star player, couldn’t remember a lot about the game, but there was a theme — especially in overtime.
“Every timeout, I would say ‘Get the ball to Cari. Nobody shoot it but Cari,’” Kretschmar said. “Some of the girls had never been in that situation. But I remember Cari coming over to the bench saying ‘Let’s win this thing, I’m dying.’”
Humphry, 41, said she finally got her husband, Byron, to watch the game 15 or 16 years ago — sort of. They dug out the old VHS tape, but the tape ran out before the game ended. She also talked to her children about lessons learned from that particular game.
“I talk to them about how it ended up requiring everybody, even girls that didn’t
get to play a lot,” Humphry said. “They played a big role in the most important game we played.”
But that would be the final basketball game of her career. She turned down multiple scholarship offers to stay home and attend the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
She made a trip to the University of San Francisco to check out the school that Bill Russell made famous, but admitted going so far from home would have been a stretch. Humphry considered playing at Tulane for academic and athletic reasons. But the school’s coach left to take another job.
“Tulane had a good school of architecture, which is what I thought I wanted to do,” Humphry said. “My dad, who played for the Razorbacks, counseled me. He said ‘This is fun for you now, but in college it’s a job.’ He cautioned me, not because he had a bad experience. He was a realist.”
Humphry decided to stay at home for college and got an accounting degree from Arkansas. She and Byron have been married for 19 years and have three children — Hadley (12), Jude (9) and Virginia (2).
She has put that degree to work, owning a business for a time and also starting a budding art career. She sells her paintings online and works out of her studio in her home in Fayetteville.
“I took some art classes in college, but I started painting every day when I was about 30,” Humphry said. “I sold some things and that gives you encouragement. I look back at those now and they were horrible, but it gives you confidence. It’s a hobby that’s turned into a business.”
Humphry has no regrets about her choice not to play college basketball.
“I got asked the question a lot about why I didn’t play in college,” Humphry said. “I loved to play basketball and had great experiences with my friends, but it was not the sum total of who I was.”
Fayetteville’s Cari Tanneberger (42) takes a shot Jan. 18, 1994, against Rogers at Fayetteville High School.
Kari Tanneberger Humphry sits in her art studio Thursday at her home in Fayetteville. Tanneberger Humphry led Fayetteville High School to back-to-back state girls basketball titles in 1993 and 1994. She scored 36 points and grabbed 25 rebounds, which is still a state record, in the eight-overtime ’94 championship game. She chose not to play basketball in college.