Ivey Slaughter stood at her own end of the court, tightly clutching the basketball and looking toward the opposite end of the arena.
Directly in front of her, her teammates were mobbed by Tattnall Square students on the floor of Hawkins Arena on Saturday night as the final buzzer sounded in the Trojans 58-46 win over Mount de Sales to claim the GISA Class AAA girls title. Its Tattnalls first since 1998.
It feels great, Slaughter said. My emotions are just everywhere right now. I feel great and overwhelmed.
Slaughter and her teammates lingered in the locker room after the victory, soaking up all the exhilaration of winning a state title for a team with just three seniors.
Were just enjoying it now and flying high, Tattnall head coach Todd Whetsel said.
Like many of Tattnalls victories this season, Slaughter played a major role. She finished with 26 points in addition to reaching double figures in rebounds.
Shes tough to box out; shes so athletic, Mount de Sales head coach Mia Washington said. Shes hard to get a body on.
But the Trojans received a major boost from Slaughters supporting cast on the scoreboard.
While Slaughter used her athleticism to control the boards on both ends of the floor, she wasnt able to find open shots for quick scoring bursts in the low post as she has at various times this season. As far as scoring stretches to swing the momentum of the game went, that fell to the rest of the Trojans lineup.
They wanted it just as bad as the seniors did, Slaughter said. It was a great feeling.
After a first half in which Slaughter scored a majority of Tattnalls points, the rest of the Trojans found ways to gain offensive traction, with most of the contributions coming from underclassmen.
A 3-pointer by sophomore Elizabeth Wainwright jumpstarted Tattnall to start the second half, and another sophomore, Kendall Hardy, came off the bench to score two quick buckets for a 26-19 Tattnall lead.
After Mount de Sales responded to cut the Tattnall lead to 26-23, Hardy sparked Tattnall again. Her layup began a 9-2 run in which Slaughter scored only once. Freshman Jordan Allen also contributed during the stretch with two of her 10 points.
The young kids certainly came up big, and Ivey did what she does and had another double-double, Whetsel said.
Tattnall, however, faced a strong challenge as the final quarter began. Maggie Midkiff, who led the Cavaliers with 18 points, scored once on a layup and shortly thereafter on a jumper to slice the Tattnall lead to 37-33.
Tattnall, however, answered again, starting with another underclassmen. A 7-0 run, starting with an offensive putback by Brianna Beasley, moved Tattnall to a 45-33 lead with 5:30 to play. Tattnalls lead never dipped below seven points the rest of the way.
Even with Slaughter out for approximately two minutes of the fourth quarter with foul trouble, Tattnall persevered, holding Mount de Sales to five points and just one field goal, limiting the Cavaliers chances to a late comeback.
Mount de Sales saw its hopes extinguished with 2:41 to go. Trailing 45-38 following a Midkiff jumper, Tattnalls lead went back to double digits on a 3-pointer by Wainwright, putting Tattnall ahead 50-38 with 2:41 to play.
It didnt take Tattnall long to lean on Slaugther to start the game. The Trojans final four points of the first quarter, all free throws by Slaughter, helped them to a 10-8. And all but two of the Tattnalls second-quarter points came courtesy of Slaughter, who either scored inside or drew fouls in the paint.
Mount de Sales, which trailed by no more than four points in the second quarter, stood tall. A 3-pointer by Dana Rose and a Midkiff jump shot put the Cavaliers in front 18-15 with 2:59 to play before halftime.
Tattnall, namely Slaughter, took control back with a quick 4-0 run, both scores coming off offensive rebounds for a 19-18 lead. A free throw by Rose tied the score for Mount de Sales just prior to halftime.
Whetsel wasnt surprised by the slower offensive pace to start the game.
Its tough on both teams in the first half when you know each other so well, Whetsel said. Youve game-planned, youve scouted; its not like its a new team.
Mount de Sales, finishes its season with a record of 25-8.
Im just so proud of what theyve been able to accomplish, to be one of the last two teams standing, Washington said of her players.