KINGWOOD WINS

Three years ago Kingwood Christian head coach Jerry Stearns walked into the locker room at Huntingdon College after falling just shy of a perfect season and state championship, with a loss to Fort Dale.

&8220;It&8217;s not the things that happen to you in life but the way you handle those things that show your true character,&8221; Stearns told his girls who finished the season 27-1.

A freshman point guard named Hannah Phillips led the team in that championship loss with 24 points.

Phillips and her teammates showed their true character on Friday when they returned to The Brick House to face Marion Schools for the state championship.

Phillips, who scored 16 points this time around, hit a 3-point basket to send the game to double overtime and later sank a running leaner with two seconds to play for the 53-51 win.

&8220;I wanted (this game) bad. I didn&8217;t want it to end like this though&8230;.too many overtimes,&8221; Phillips said.

As the clock sounded, the celebration began and tears of joy were shed because the title, that for four years sat right at their finger tips, was now in their hands.

&8220;I was so happy and just wanted to jump on everybody,&8221; sophomore Serina Bourassa said. &8220;My eyes were full of tears because this was a great team effort by all of us.&8221;

Bourassa, who led the team with 19 points, hit the nail on the head with her summation of the championship run, according to Stearns.

&8220;I don&8217;t think it makes any difference to these girls (who scores). These girls are the most unselfish group I&8217;ve ever been around. They don&8217;t care who does what as long as they&8217;re doing their job well and we&8217;re winning,&8221; Stearns said.

The unselfish play helped the Lady Lions rally back from an early 8-3 deficit to pull within a point, 9-8, at the end of the first quarter. However, the closest Kingwood could get was a tie, 10-10, after a jumper by Phillips.

After the Panthers&8217; lead grew to four points, Kaitlin Rozof hit her first three of the final four to pull within a point, but her team trailed 17-15 at the half.

Kingwood gained their first lead of the night, with just under seven minutes to go in the game, off a 3-pointer by Bourassa. It was their only lead of regulation, as Emily Easley later hit two free-throws to give Marion a 3-point lead with 24 seconds to play. It was then that Rozof hit her second 3-pointer of the game, with seven seconds to play, to force overtime.

&8220;I was in shock. I didn&8217;t really realize how much time was left, but I knew that there wasn&8217;t much time and I had to shoot it.

It just banked in and I was lucky,&8221; Rozof said.

Phillips posted 11 of her 16 points for the game in extra time to help lead the way to the title.