With her team trailing at halftime Monday, Chattanooga Christian's only senior girls' basketball player, Mary Sabourin, must have realized that her high school basketball career was 16 minutes away from being over.
"I wasn't about to lose this game," Sabourin said afterward. "I knew we had to pull through."
Sabourin led the Lady Chargers' second-half rally to a 58-47 victory in an opening-round game in the District 7-AA tournament at Chattanooga Christian.
CCS (18-11) has now guaranteed itself at least three more games, the first being a trip to top-seeded Bledsoe County on Thursday. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. EST.
Girls' championship and consolation games are Monday at Sequatchie County. Each of the four remaining teams moves on to Region 4 play starting late next week.
Sequatchie County got off to a 9-0 start and led the entire first half, which ended 25-22. Sabourin, the Lady Chargers' starting point guard, had no points.
Whether CCS coach Laura Cottrell raised her voice, kicked water bottles or waved a magic wand, something telling transpired.
"I went in there and told them that was about as bad of a defensive half I've seen in a long time," Cottrell said. "I told them we were going to have to do it on the defensive end. We were not getting steals, we were not pressuring the ball and we were letting them drive to the basket."
Sabourin scored all eight of her points in the second half, but it was her work on the defensive end that had more to do with the Lady Chargers' 24-point outburst in the third quarter that led to a 46-37 advantage headed to the fourth.
"She always motivates us at halftime, whether it's kicking water bottles or encouraging us," Sabourin said of Cottrell. "We're more of a second-half team."
Averaging a team-high 3.6 steals per game for the season, Sabourin ended up with 10 steals against the Lady Indians to go with seven rebounds and seven assists.
"My senior decided she was going to start playing," Cottrell said. "She wasn't ready for the season to be over."
Sabourin and Joanna Smith, CCS's leading scorer for the season, had bouts with foul trouble and ended the game with four each. But the foul situation ended up worse for the Lady Indians, who had top scorer Kelsie Key with 13 points foul out with 2:24 to go. Two others ended with four fouls each, including center Keely Frederick, who got her fourth at 2:52 of the third quarter and was on the bench when CCS went on a 15-2 run.
"They're bigger than anybody we've got," Cottrell said of Key and Frederick.
Hannah Henry came off the bench and led the Lady Chargers with 14 points. Allison Hughes added 13 and Smith overcame a scoreless first quarter to finish with 12. Clara Dirkse chipped in with nine for CCS, which made 19 of 25 free throws.
Mallory Key and Kaylee Smith contributed 12 points apiece for Sequatchie, which made 4 of 8 free throws.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.