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Way To Go, Carpenters!

Lady Cougars win sectional title as coach readies to deliver
The Carpenters Middle girls’ basketball team pose with the hardware after Saturday’s championship. Head coach Cassie Moulton Borden is at far right. Photo submitted

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row


The Lady Cougars show off their mastery of bracketology.

She’s all yours, Connor.

The Carpenters Middle School girls’ basketball team capped the most successful season in school history Saturday night.

Tournament most valuable player Alyssa Walker’s two free throws with four seconds remaining put it away, and the Lady Cougars held off Rhea County, 38-35, in the championship game of the Tennessee Middle School Athletic Association East Sectional at Sevierville Middle.

Only three sectionals are held statewide, making them in effect state championships at the middle school level. The historic run for the Lady Cougars (31-1) includes an Area 3/Blount County championship won the week before.

The focus now shifts to Connor Paul Borden, whose arrival could take place as you read this.

The Lady Cougars won the area championship with coach Cassie Moulton Borden less than a week from the due date of her and husband Hamilton’s first child. With Hamilton in the stands, Carpenters won in a thriller over Maryville Junior High.

Monday, the Lady Cougars weren’t about to wait until they saw Borden in the halls to learn if there’d been further developments over the weekend.

“They started texting me: ‘Coach, are you at school today? Did you have that baby yet?’” Borden said.

Sectionals began with Borden inside a week of Connor’s projected arrival. Friday, all concerned decided to induce labor, all except Borden, who convinced doctors to wait until this afternoon.

Walker’s runner in the lane at the buzzer “hit nothing but net,” lifting Carpenters to a 35-34 win over LaFollette in Friday’s semifinal.

“There were tears on the way home,” Borden said. “I wondered, ‘What if go into labor and can’t coach the last game?’”

The Bordens, both William Blount graduates, kept a bag for Cassie in the car Saturday night, just in case. The wife of her doctor attended the game, her husband on speed dial.

“We said, ‘If this happens, we do this; if this happens, we do this,’” Borden said.

Assistant coach Mark McGill was to coach the championship game had Borden not been able to make it, with Carpenters Elementary coach K.C. Haworth assisting.

After such an historic season, there was no way she was missing the big show, Borden said.

“I’m thinking, ‘Please, Lord. Let me coach this game,’” she said. “I never in my wildest dreams thought I could make it.”

While the outcome was close, Carpenters was in control throughout in the championship game. Madi Hartgrove and Alex Shephard locked down on Rhea County’s best shooters, the end game excitement largely due to 17 Lady Cougar missed free throws.

“They (Shephard and Hartgrove) really controlled the other team’s best players,” Borden said.

Joining Walker on the all-sectional team were Hartgrove, Destiny Haworth and Jenna Kallenberg. Courtney Carruthers and Lindsey Taylor were named to the team from Maryville.

Sunday, the focus returned to Connor.

“On top of a bad head cold and being really pregnant, I’m feeling pretty good,” Borden said. “I told the girls after the game Connor already has 11 big sisters.”

The 2015 Carpenters Middle School sectional champions: Madi Hartgrove, Alex Shephard, Abbi Joseph, Alyssa Walker, Emma Harrig, Jasmine Ervin, Jenna Kallenberg, Destiny Haworth, Kendyll Tillie, Jenna Foster, Rachel Bailey.

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