Victim No. 51 was nearly in the books with little drama, but this wasn’t just another win in South girls basketball team’s three-year winning streak.
So with 0.8 seconds remaining in South’s 56-43 victory over West on Tuesday night, South coach Antwain Scales decided to use his last full timeout. This was personal.
And then when it broke its huddle, South screamed, “Destiny,” a reference to Destiny Pittman, who transferred from South to West for her senior season.
So much for no drama.
“The kids that stayed with us at South, we were kind of heartbroken over (Pittman transferring),” Scales said. “We pride ourselves on being a family here, so to have for someone to transfer is like they’re turning their back on us. It was a little bit personal for us.”
When Pittman, who scored nine points, heard the chant, she turned and smiled from West’s bench and clapped along as the South gymnasium erupted with roars from both teams’ fans.
“I told the girls after the game that if that doesn’t fire you up and make you want to play them again, then I don’t know what else is going to motivate you,” West coach Brian Johnson said.
The loss snapped West’s nine-game winning streak and marked the first time the Pioneers (12-7) had lost since Pittman and Dymond McElrath (nine points) became eligible.
Johnson believes his team is good enough to end South’s four-year championship run in Class 6A, but on Tuesday he watched as his team shot less than 35 percent, committed 14 turnovers, missed 21 of 32 free throws, and fell behind 10-0 to the No. 1-ranked team in Kansas.
“They’re too good of a team to do that stuff against,” Johnson said. “But I feel like we’ll play them again at state. And next time, we’ll be ready.”
West made one rally, trimming South’s lead to 17-14 early in the second quarter, but the Titans were quick to respond with a 12-0 run to extend their lead to 15 points. South maintained at least a nine-point lead for the rest of the game.
Tre’Zure Jobe scored a game-high 20 points, while Loan-Anh Johnson also scored 15. South’s defense held West leading scorer Brianna Johnson, who was plagued with foul trouble, to four points.
“We’re not just going to let someone come into our house and push us around,” Jobe said. “We had to stand up for ourselves.”
South wanted to make a statement. It accomplished just that — and not just with its on-court play.
“I want (West) to remember the Titans,” Scales said. “That’s one thing they better do… remember the Titans.”
WEST: S. Muldrow 9, D. McElrath 9, M. Shaw 9, D. Pittman 8, Bri. Johnson 4, M. Hays 4.
SOUTH: T. Jobe 20, L. Johnson 15, H. Beard 9, Z. Asante 4, K. Callins 4, N. Young 2, M. Scales 2.