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Webb girls rally, win state crown behind Miss Basketball
Johnson takes charge, Spartans first-ever Knox hoop girls state champs


Considering what the Webb girls accomplished, and the way they accomplished it, makes for a noteworthy achievement in Knox County basketball history.

The Lady Spartans’ furious late-game rally earned the school — and reportedly the county — its first-ever TSSAA girls state title, beating recent nemesis Brentwood Academy in thrilling fashion 50-47 Saturday, March 3, in Nashville.

Until being informed during a sports television show featuring the team, “I didn’t realize we were the first [girls team] in Knoxville to win a state championship,” said Shelley Sexton-Collier, Webb head coach completing her ninth season at the school.

Just when things looked grave for the Lady Spartans late in the game, a Gloryous thing happened.

What’s new.

Trailing BA 46-37 with 2:08 to play, Lady Spartan standout junior post Glory Johnson made herself the centerpiece, scoring 11 of her team’s last 13 points, including 9-of-12 at the foul line — leading Webb’s furious comeback to claim the TSSAA Division II crown.

“The way it ended makes it even more special,” the coach said. “The way we overcame. And to beat Brentwood Academy, a team that has been a thorn in our side, it was nice.

“It’s just an unbelievable experience,” the coach added. “One thing that’s a remarkable trait of a champion is that you don’t quit, no matter what the odds are, and that’s what they did.”

On top of winning the state crown and leading her team to a final 28-4 record, Johnson was also named Division II’s Miss Basketball for the 2006-07 season. That’s on top of being named tourney Most Valuable Player in leading Webb’s championship game effort with a team-high 18 points and eight rebounds. She averaged 21 points during the Lady Spartans’ three-game run in Allen Arena at Lipscomb University, joined by teammates Faith Dupree and Jessica Goswitz on the All-Tourney team.

Johnson performed her late-game heroics saddled with four fouls the entire fourth quarter.

“Glory was just beside herself on the bench, just in tears, because she wanted so much to be out there,” Sexton-Collier said, as her star post sat out most of the second quarter, and would later pick up her fourth foul in the third quarter.

“She went out there and played with a lot of heart, showed what she was made of,” the coach added. “Glory came back into the game and did what great players do. She’s not Miss Basketball by mistake. She showed why she’s Miss Basketball by being able to take over a game like she did in that small amount of time.

“She took over defensively, too.”

THE COMEBACK

Johnson converted a pair of free throws to cut BA’s lead to 46-39 with 2:08 to play; seconds later, a steal and two Goswitz free throws trimmed the deficit to 46-41 at the 1:59 mark.

With a minute remaining, two more Johnson free tosses cut the difference to 46-43. Once again, the Miss Basketball honoree was drawing the fouls — this time converting 2-of-4, sandwiched in-between a huge offensive rebound — making it a one-point Brentwood Academy edge, 46-45.

If her shooting and rebounding weren’t enough dominance, Johnson’s steal and lay-up with 37 seconds to play gave Webb’s its first lead since a 15-12 edge midway into the second quarter.

“Glory’s an intimidating person, has long arms, a long arm span,” Sexton-Collier said.

Ahead 47-46, the Lady Spartan defense forced another BA turnover and Goswitz converted. Her two free throws with 15 seconds left made it 49-46 Webb.

“We had a lot of players that stepped up,” the coach said, including Jackson, while “Jessica Walter took a charge towards the end that was a key, and Jessica Goswitz hit her two free throws.”

Brentwood Academy went to the foul line with seven seconds left and made one free throw. The second was missed and rebounded by — who else — Johnson.

With only two seconds left, the big junior converted one of two free throws for a 50-47 edge. Brentwood’s final desperation three-pointer was off the mark.

Dupree scored 10, including a pair of blocked shots, while Shayla Jackson added eight, Goswitz seven, Jessica Walter four and Meghan Davis three points.

As a team, “We didn’t quit, we went down there to win it,” Sexton-Collier said. “The kids and the coaching staff were just determined to stay positive and just find a way to win.

“It just shows a lot of character about this team and how hard they’ve worked and how far they’ve come in their maturity process and just what kind of people they are, really, to be able to face adversity like they did and come from behind.”

SPECIAL SALUTES

Three Webb seniors went out in style, with praise from the coach. Lauren Shepherd was commended for being “an example of what basketball’s been about, very coachible.”

Jackson was praised for “the look and determination she had” in the state title game.

About Emily Dupree, “what a blessing she’s been, what an unbelievable person and leader.

“It’s a great way for them to be able to finish.”

Collier wins her first state title in 18 seasons as a head coach, having previously led Clinton and Karns high schools.

Remember two prior losses to BA in state tourney games, “We did it for those girls who had made it with us before,” Sexton-Collier said. “We know who they are, we called their names out.

“We were sitting at Vanderbilt the day before, we started calling off names of people that had been there and wanted it but just couldn’t grab a hold of it.”

But for the 2006-07 Lady Spartans, “They’re going to remember it for a lifetime.”

 

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