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?"