Eagles claim state championship
By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor
Hope Christian School girls’ basketball coach Mark Machen came up with a rallying cry for his squad shortly before the Alabama Christian Sports Conference tournament at Samford University.
The Eagles, who lost eight games this season by three points or less, including all four contests against the Evangel Family Christian Academy and Evangel Christian School teams his squad would face in its path toward an ACSC championship, needed a boost.
Machen found the magic words, as the Eagles took down Evangel Family Christian 36-31 in its semifinal contest Feb. 17 before dispatching rival Evangel Christian 48-30 in the championship game Feb. 18.
“I told the girls, ‘You’ve got to forget (the losses),'” Machen said. “This will be a week of redemption for us.”
Leigh Wilson Legg, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player, led Hope Christian with 18 points in the championship game in its first win over the Lightning in two years.
Christina Jones added 17 points. Joelle Reed finished with six points and five rebounds.
Brooke Machen chipped in four points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Rachel Holmes finished with two points. Karlee Tate contributed one point. Erin Douglas grabbed six rebounds, while Rachel Rettig and Davina Drew finished with one board each.
Machen and Jones were each named to the ACSC all-tournament team.
Rainey Ketcham led Evangel Christian (16-2) with 18 points in the championship game.
Bethany Letson added six points. Lacey Entrekin chipped in four points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Whitney Thorpe finished with two points and three steals.
Machen said the Eagles proved to be a much better team than Hope Christian’s record indicated.
“I knew we were a talented team all year long,” Machen said.