The golden glow off four championship basketball trophies can clearly be seen on the faces of two very happy coaches.
Just days after a second consecutive sweep of the state’s Class AA basketball championships, Christ Presbyterian Academy girls coach Becky LeGate and boys coach Drew Maddux each reflected on their teams’ remarkable seasons.
No school in TSSAA history ever had won consecutive girls and boys basketball championships in the same two-year period. In fact, when the teams won both crowns in 2012, it was only the fourth time a single school took both in the same year, the last being Brentwood Academy in 2006.
“In 91 years of high school basketball in Tennessee, no school has ever accomplished a total program, boys and girls, of winning back-to-back state championships in basketball,” Maddux explained. “CPA is the first school to accomplish such a feat.”
Won-loss records? A remarkable 140-14 between the two. CPA’s boys racked up a 37-2 mark for the second straight year. The girls were 36-3 in 2011-12, 30-7 this season.
A run like last year, when both teams went 16-0 in the district and 10-0 in the tournaments was probably unrealistic — but the boys did it again. The girls lost only one district regular season game and another in tournament play.
But the more unlikely championship run of the two was that of the girls, who faced a state finals rematch with Macon County, a team that beat the Lions in the region finals a week earlier.
“That forced us into a [sectional] road game at Page, but we played very well in that game, and our seniors stepped up in the fourth quarter and played like champions,” LeGate said. “After the loss to Macon County, we refocused as a team. Our seniors put the team on their backs.”
Their three-game run in the state tournament came down to a last-second 3-point shot from the corner by freshman Adela Franco to beat Macon Co. 52-49.
“Any successful team has role players step up, and Adela hit an unbelievable shot, the biggest of her career,” LeGate said. “And sophomore Caitlin Nichols had two huge
High-profile players like seniors Lauren Thompson (20 points, seven rebounds), Meredith Roman (13 points) and Lipscomb-bound Faith LeGate (12 points) led the way for CPA, which trailed by 11 late in the third quarter. Thompson, a Belmont signee, was named the state tournament MVP for the second straight year.
“It’s the most coachable group I’ve ever had,” LeGate said. “We struggled early on in the year, but we started to come together around Christmas and finished strong.
“I am so blessed to be a mom and a coach and have my daughters [Faith and eighth-grader Savannah] and my husband Kevin [an assistant coach] be a part of this. It was all a dream come true.”
Their run to a second state championship included a double overtime win over Lipscomb Academy in the district finals, when Faith LeGate forced overtime with a half-court heave that went in as the buzzer sounded to end regulation.
By contrast, CPA’s boys had few scares in 2012-13, and none in their tournament run, which ended with a 63-42 romp over Jackson South Side in the title game.
Jalen Lindsey had 57 points and 30 rebounds in the three games, all of which the Lions won by at least 15 points. Braxton Blackwell and Jake Allsmiller, who scored a game-high 20 points in the finals, earned
CPA has won 63 straight games against in-state foes since a loss in December 2011 to Clarksville Northeast.
“This was a special team in which no one was worried about individual statistics,” Maddux said. “After the tournaments started, we had no scrimmages, we just tried to strengthen fundamentals. Everyone got better as the season went along.
“You had a player like Thomas Richard who made all-tournament, and he was sitting in the stands last year with an injury. I had tears in my eyes. Parker Howell and Coleman Spann also stepped up. And you see a
great player like Jalen, who transferred into a great leader. He was someone who knew he didn’t have to carry the team every game and totally immersed himself into the team concept. He could score more but was willing to sacrifice points for what the team needed at the time.”
In addition to the state championships, Lindsey was named AA Mr. Basketball, as well as the state tournament MVP. Last year, Craig Bradshaw, now a freshman at Belmont, won the same honors for the Lions.
“They can take these memories for a lifetime,” Maddux said. “It was a team everyone knew had high expectations coming in. But we were successful in that they loved one another and connected with each other on and off the court.”
As for his honors, Lindsey, who has at least 19 DI scholarship offers, said: “It’s amazing; it’s something I could never have dreamed of. It’s pretty cool.”
Watching up close has been headmaster Richard Anderson, who frequented the team dressing rooms before games and at halftime. He has announced his retirement effective June 30, 2014, after 28 years.
“It is really wonderful to do something that has never been done before,” said Anderson. “I’m so proud of our two coaches, who are the best in the entire state of Tennessee.
“I’ve been behind the scenes in the locker room, and I’ve seen how Becky and Drew conduct themselves, using their wisdom and leading devotionals. I’ve seen how our programs have been built from the ground up. I remember once we had seven girls suited up for a game. One got injured, another two fouled out and we finished the game with four players. And the boys had small rosters in the early years. We’ve come a long way since the days of the ’80s and ’90s.”
The bad news for other boys teams is that CPA had no seniors this seasons and will be heavily favored make it three in a row next year.
The girls, on the other hand, lose three senior starters.
Maddux already has entered his team in two Christmas tournaments next season, including the Oak Hill (Va.) Invitational and the Simeon Invitational in Chicago. Host Simeon won the Illinois 4A state championship this year.
In the meantime, the school can bask in the enjoyment of the four gold balls in a big trophy case.