ALEXANDRIA — Christ Episcopal set the bar high in its inaugural season competing on the varsity level just by making it to the state championship game.
But for senior guard Gabby Leahy, just making it clearly wasn't enough.
Leahy, in a performance that will be talked about around the school for years to come, refused to leave Rapides Coliseum in Alexandria without bringing a trophy back to Covington with her.
She took over the fourth quarter, scoring 19 of her 33 points to lead No. 2 Christ Episcopal in its thrilling 54-52 victory over No. 1 Claiborne Christian for the Division V title at the LHSAA girls state tournament.
"I knew this was the last game I would play of my high school career," Leahy said. "You have to lay everything out on the line, and that's it. This is your last time to play in high school, so you need to give it everything you have and literally do it until you almost die."
And at times, in this one, the Wildcats' chances seemed dead.
Starters Grace Seghers and Quincy Downing fouled out in a 2½-minute span in the third quarter. Downing, who finished with nine points and five rebounds, was the second to foul out, leaving with 2:57 left in the third.
"It was probably the most nerve-racking thing I've ever had to do in my life," said Downing about having to just sit and watch.
Christ Episcopal was leading 33-29 at the time, but Claiborne Christian took advantage and closed the quarter on a 9-2 run and led 38-35.
Momentum had clearly shifted.
But that's when Leahy, an obvious choice for the game's Most Outstanding Player, got going.
She repeated Bible verse Philippians 4:13 to motivate herself down the stretch.
"Through Jesus Christ, I knew that all things were possible," she kept reminding herself.
The home-schooled guard scored all 19 of the Wildcats points in the final quarter. Her three-point play with 1:07 put her team ahead 51-50, the Wildcats' first lead since the third quarter.
It was the kind of performance Wildcats coach Stephen Griffin has come to expect from Leahy, who scored a season-best 37 points (including nine 3-pointers) this season against Pope John Paul II.
"We have a bond and there is a certain look (I give her) and she knows she has the complete green light and that was the entire fourth quarter," Griffin said. "I didn't want the ball out of her hands. But she can also make plays for her teammates. The girls stepped up and it still was a team effort."
After Leahy's three-point play, Claiborne Christian regained the lead with 50 seconds left, but Leahy hit a short jumper that put the Wildcats ahead 53-52 with 34 seconds left.
Claiborne Christian (16-14) had one last chance but failed to get a good shot off and the Wildcats (16-9) celebrated a title in the school's inaugural season.
"This is a good story, right?" Griffin asked. "It's like a Hoosiers' type thing."
It was the second state championship this school year for Christ Episcopal, which opened its doors seven years ago. The school won the Class C cross country title last fall.
Sydney Schultz chipped in 10 points and six rebounds, She also battled foul trouble, picking up her fourth foul in the second quarter but managed to not foul out.
"When I saw my teammates fouling out, I said we can't give up now," Schultz said. "We have to play even harder. We just have to be safe and can't foul out."
Taylor Lilly scored 21 points, 19 in the first half, to lead the Crusaders.
"All the credit to Christ Episcopal," Claiborne coach Lee Morrow siad. "Obviously Gabby led the way for them. She was a huge factor, and we knew that coming into it. But she still got hers."
And the Wildcats got theirs.
Senior Hailey Magness hoisted the school's historic trophy near midcourt.
The trophy almost slipped out of her hands.
But it didn't.
This trophy was heading back to Covington.
Leahy made sure of it.
"I will forever remember this day," Leahy said. "This is my first state championship, and this is a memory I will never forget."