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Original Issue

The Team That Never Gave Up Following a 103-0 defeat, a tiny school in Texas found a unique way to win

By the end of the first quarter coach Jennifer Marks of
ChristWay Academy in Duncanville, Texas, was in a panic. Her
Lady Chaparrals trailed Arlington Oakridge 37-0. If only we
could score, Marks thought. Then, correcting herself, If only we
could get the ball to midcourt. "I called a couple of timeouts,"
says Marks, 23, recalling her Little Bighorn, "but there wasn't
much I could do."

On Dec. 28, in the first round of the 10th annual Oakridge
Classic, something less than a high school girls' basketball
game happened. Oakridge, the host school, beat ChristWay 103-0.
It was the worst shutout in high school basketball since Logan
beat Sugar Grove Berne-Union in Ohio 106-0 in 1972. Marks, who
was in tears after she arrived home, did not sleep that night.
Her husband, Scott, a theology student, tried to console her.
"He did the best thing he could do," she says, "which was to
just hold me and listen."

"You know what coaching this team is like?" says ChristWay
assistant Jennifer Kimbrough, 18. "It's like teaching a
blindfolded person how to read." Going into the Oakridge
Classic, ChristWay, a tiny (175 students) Christian school for
grades 1-12 located 15 miles south of Dallas, was 0-6. The Lady
Chaparrals ran drills against their junior high players, but the
varsity had limited success. "It was bad for our girls'
self-esteem," says Kimbrough.

After the 103-0 debacle and two more losses in the Oakridge
Classic--by scores of 86-7 and 76-15--a funny thing happened to
the ChristWay girls: nothing. Nobody quit. Nobody whined.
Nobody, including Marks, blamed anyone else. "Seven of my nine
players never played basketball before this season," the coach
says. "Sure, they'd like to win a game. But most of them are
just learning how to play."

On Jan. 22 ChristWay played Gospel Lighthouse of Dallas, a team
with a record of 1-19. The Lady Chaps actually had an advantage:
Gospel suited up only five players. At halftime, however, Gospel
led 21-13. Early in the third quarter of a physical game,
Gospel's Bethany Wall drew a technical foul for tossing aside
ChristWay's 4'10", 80-pound Anna Saucedo as if she were a rag
doll. In the fourth quarter the game turned. Gospel players
started fouling out, and their lead began to slip. The first
player fouled out early in the quarter, with Gospel ahead 31-17.
Later a second fouled out. With less than a minute to go, Wall
kicked a ChristWay player in frustration, drew her second
technical and was ejected; with 17 seconds left, Gospel led
43-40 but had only two players on the court.

Then one of the two remaining Gospel players committed her fifth
and disqualifying foul. Silence filled the gym. "Game over!"
shouted the referee, waving his hands. Gospel was left with only
one player and was thus unable to pass the ball inbounds.
Officially the Lady Chaparrals had a 2-0 win--their first and,
as it would turn out, only victory of the season.

"It wasn't pretty," says Marks, "but who deserved a win more?"

After nine dreadful defeats, nobody quit, whined or blamed
anyone else.