CHATSWORTH, Ga. — As her teammates patted her on the back and chanted "MVP, MVP," Calhoun's Jana Johns flashed a shy smile and shrugged her shoulders when asked to describe the final few seconds of Saturday's game.
The freshman had just hit a tournament-winning 3-pointer in a 51-48 decision over North Murray in the Mistletoe Madness Tournament championship game, but you could hardly tell it by her business-as-usual attitude afterward.
"I just saw an opening, ran to it and got the ball and shot it," said the guard, whose shot from the corner was true with 13 seconds to play. "This is big for us, and it shows how far we've come since our last tournament. This is a big step forward for us."
Calhoun (8-3) coach Jerry Pruett was hardly surprised by Johns' heroics.
"I tell kids if it's a good shot take it," he said. "In her first start a few games ago she scored 17 and in the next game had 16. She's someone who is confident in her ability and who isn't afraid to live with the consequences, which is why she was able to make that shot."
After a cold-shooting first half for both teams, the Lady Mountaineers rode the hot hand of Kara Deal to a 28-23 lead early in the second half. However, the Lady Yellow Jackets, playing for the third consecutive night, finally found their touch to tie the game at 36 on Kyleigh Carney's 3-pointer to end the period.
A Deal 3-pointer, her third of the game, gave North Murray a 44-42 lead three minutes into the final period and the lead remained three after two Katelyn Crumbley free throws with 1:26 to play. Calhoun tied the game on a Carney drive with 1:05 to play, and after Megan Pittman's jumper went in and out for North Murray, the Lady Jackets rebounded and took off. Johns spotted off in the left corner and didn't hesitate with the game-winner.
"We couldn't get much colder than we were in the first half, so to still be close we knew things had to get better," Pruett said. "Just being able to win playing three straight nights is tough. I think we were the only team that had to play three nights in a row and I was afraid fatigue was going to set in, but if anything I think our effort was even better tonight."
Johns and Carney had 12 points each to lead Calhoun, with Sydnie Parker adding 11. Deal and Pittman topped North Murray with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
The boys' championship between Heritage and Calhoun was not completed by deadline. Sonoraville defeated Dade County, 46-26, to claim third place in the girls' competition and North Murray edged Gordon Lee, 62-59, in the boys' third-place game.
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com or at 423-757-6296.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...