The junior point guard led GPS to a 23-1 season and its first basketball state championship since 2000, and she became the Bruisers' first state Miss Basketball award winner since that title year. Rated the nation's ninth-best point guard by ESPN, she averaged 15.6 points and six assists this season and surpassed the 1,000-point mark for her career. "She's put so much time into her game," GPS coach Susan Crownover said. "She may not always be the flashiest player on the court, but she's the most complete." Clay's 12 points, six rebounds, five steals and four assists helped GPS overcome a 13-point halftime deficit for a five-point win in the Division II-AA title game. She already has scholarship offers from Auburn, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Alabama-Birmingham and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, among others.
Despite having only one senior, Crownover guided GPS to the Division II-AA state tournament for the third time in her seven seasons as coach. The Bruisers trailed Briarcrest Christian by 15 late in the second quarter and rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit for the program's first state championship in 11 seasons. "You just never know how a team that is so young will react in big-time situations like that," said Crownover, who has seven softball state titles. "All things considered, I think they did very well to fight back. And to win the whole thing is just outstanding. "As the season went along, you could see them mature and begin to realize what they had to do to win big games that were close down the stretch. In the past they didn't understand how to handle it, but they learned and it paid off in the tournament." Crownover actually used the team's youth as a motivational point at halftime of the title game. "I reminded them that just because we have a lot of players coming back doesn't guarantee we'll be back and have the same opportunity," Crownover said. "I told them not to leave it up to next year - let's go win it now. And that's just what they did."
ARTS & SCIENCES
She averaged 18.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 steals and 2.4 assists for the repeat district champs.
The three-year starter averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds along with two assists per game.
She scored an area high 27 points a game on 57 percent shooting and added 4.3 assists and 4.3 steals.
She averaged 18.9 points and 10.7 rebounds and led the area with 61 percent field-goal shooting.
Her 20.6 points a game ranked her among the top three girls' scorers in the Chattanooga area.
ALEXIS ADAMS East Hamilton Senior Post
SIMONE BUSBY GPS Junior Post
PRESLEY WATSON Chatt. Christian Senior Guard
BRITTANY MCKINNEY Tyner Senior Guard
AMBER HOWARD Baylor Junior Wing
1 GPS (23-1)
The Bruisers claimed their first Division II-AA state championship in 11 seasons, led by Miss Basketball award winner Chadarryl Clay.
2 EAST HAMILTON (24-11)
The Lady Hurricanes' only District 6-AA loss came after they had wrapped up the regular-season title. They advanced to the AA state sectionals before losing to state-ranked Cannon County.
3 ARTS & SCIENCES (15-10)
The Lady Patriots repeated as District 5-A champions, losing only once within the league and advancing to the region semifinals.
Photos by Stephen Hargis. Text by Gene Henley. Design by Stacey Wysong.