This was one — make that two — for the ages.
Not in the history of Tennessee high school sports has any school had respective seasons of girls and boys basketball quite like those at Christ Presbyterian Academy this year.
Over the past two weeks, CPA became just the fourth school in TSSAA state history to sweep both boys and girls state championships, joining Bradley Central (1962), Chattanooga Brainerd (1984) and Brentwood Academy (2006 in DII).
But what the Lions did on their way toward collecting their gold basketballs in the two tournaments at was a stunning study in consistency as they combined for a 73-5 record.
• Both teams finished a perfect 16-0 in District 10-AA, almost unheard of.
• Both teams won district tournament championships as well, winning all three games in the 10-AA event.
• Both teams swept to their respective Region 5-AA titles at Stratford High and easily won sectional games. Overall, both were 10-0 in the tournaments.
• Neither lost after late December. CPA’s girls (36-3) closed the season on a 24-game winning streak, following a defeat against Ensworth in the finals of the Franklin Road Academy Christmas tournament. The boys (37-2) racked up a 25-game streak, which started after they lost in the semifinals of the Arby’s Christmas tournament in Bristol.
On Saturday, it was the boys team that completed the school’s whirlwind tour of championship basketball with a convincing 78-64 romp over Memphis Mitchell in the boys Class AA final.
“I’m so proud of the kids and coaches for supporting each other — the boys supported the girls and the girls supported the boys, both were strong in attendance for all of the three [state tournament] games,” athletic director Mike Ellson said.
Ellson, himself, coached both the boys and girls teams and helped pave the way for current coaches Becky Legate (girls) and Drew Maddux (boys).
“The saying was ‘One CPA’ with the whole community uniting behind both teams,” he said. “That and going for a perfect 20 in postseason — 10 wins by the girls, 10 by the boys. This comes after our football team [state semifinals] and other sports did so well. CPA is a special place.”
Maddux reunites with teammate, close friend
MTSU had not always been so kind to Maddux.
In 1994, he was a 3,000-point scorer in high school and a teammate of future NBA standout Ron Mercer at Goodpasture, a heavy favorite to win the Class A state championship. Battle Ground Academy edged them 65-62 in overtime.
“This has nothing to do with me or what had happened before, that was just part of life,” he said. “What was so amazing was that Ron came to our game Saturday and sat behind us, next to my dad [Ray] and my wife [Tara]. After the game, he came up to me and said ‘This is for ’94,’ and gave me a hug.
“He went out a champion in college in 1996 [playing for Kentucky which won the NCAA championship]. Then in 2012, this happened for my team and for me. Also amazing was that Gary Smith, who was the BGA coach then, was sitting just two rows in front of Ron. It’s a small world.
“This was special, because Ron and I had been playing sports together since we were age 12, and it all came together for us Saturday.”
Did it ever.
Craig Bradshaw, who scored 23 points in the championship game, was named the tournament MVP and Class AA Mr. Basketball.
“That type of trifecta very rarely ever happens,” Maddux said.
Girls enjoy the moment, too
Contacted Sunday, Becky LeGate was also relishing in the Lions moment.
“It is unbelievable, without a doubt, when you take everything into account,” she said. “I was at every one of the games last week, and our team was, too, showing their support. And the guys were at our games the week before.
“Our situations were very different. We were a team which flew under the radar all season. But the boys were ranked No. 1 almost the whole season and got the best from every team they played but still rose to the occasion. It is remarkable to see how well they handled that pressure, game in and game out.”
Opponents may need to be wary of the Lions once again as things look very promising next season.
The girls return their nucleus, including leading scorer Faith LeGate as well as 6-foot-1 post and shot blocker Lauren Thompson, the MVP of the girls state tournament.
The boys return four starters, all sophomores – center Jalen Lindsey, wing Jake Allsmiller and guards Vic Wharton and Braxton Bonds. They lose just Bradshaw, who has signed with Belmont.
Both have a tough act to follow.