NASHVILLE – Providence Christian Academy seniors Yaubryon Chambers and Kaici Bivens finished their high school careers on the highest of notes, hoisting the Division II-A state championship trophy with a 41-29 win over Christian Academy of Knoxville on Saturday at Lipscomb University.
“For me, it’s particularly special being my senior year,” Bivens said. “But my oldest sister, she ended her senior year with a state championship. Being the bookends of the family is just an amazing and incredible feeling because we started out with one sister ending her career with a state championship and we’re ending the last sister with a state championship. It’s just incredible and experiencing it with this team, I’m just speechless.”
Bivens’ older sister Alex won a state title in 2007 with Riverdale. She’s not the only one to experience a state championship as a player, as PCA coach Tara James also won a state title with Cannon County in 1989. Now, in just the third year playing in TSSAA, James has a state title as coach to go in her trophy case next to her first one.
“When you’re in it and playing, it’s more about yourself and your team,” James said. “It’s so fun that I get to take the backseat to this and let them enjoy it. This one is a little bit sweeter somehow.
“There was one kid in the gym six years ago that wanted to get better at PCA. There was another coach, Kevin Carter, who said to me, ‘coach, it only takes one to build a program,’ and here we are. There’s nothing better than building a program and building something and having players believe in what you’re doing.”
It appeared early on the Lady Lions were in for their toughest test of the postseason after an 8-4 lead in the first quarter disappeared into a 14-14 tie at halftime. However, crisper shooting and thunderous cheering from the largest crowd of the weekend helped bring PCA to life in the second half.
“Even when we make mistakes, they still find a way to cheer us on,” Chambers said of the PCA faithful. “I think they had a lot to do with the energy in the gym and staying positive even when tough times happen throughout the season. We’re just very thankful to have them throughout our journey.”
“Our shirts specifically say family,” Bivens added. “That’s what PCA is, it’s just a family environment. So, going 45 minutes just to see the girls play is something of course they're going to do because we’re all family and that’s just part of our community and what’s so special about PCA.”
However, a 12-6 run in the third quarter and a 15-point fourth quarter helped ice the 12-point win and preserve the school’s first state championship.
“We have over 115 kids at our high school, and just over 500 K-12,” James said. “I felt like every student and every parent was here. It’s unbelievable. This started a little bit last year and has just grown.”
In addition to the state title, Chambers, Bivens and AC Markham were all named to the all-tournament team following the game, with Chambers taking home state tournament MVP.
“Just having an experience similar to this end badly, this is just the hard work paid off from the last time I made it to state,” Chamber said of the last time she went to state with Pearl-Cohn in 2017. “I think this is just the culmination of all the hard work we put in this season and just making sure we focus on each other rather than our personal gains.”
PCA (41): Yaubryon Chambers 16, Kaici Bivens 10, Alia Callum 6, AC Markham 5, Sydney Gibson 2, Addison Melton 2
CAK (29): Hannah Carroll 9, Kennedy Smith 8, Ellie Fussell 5, Claire Brock 3, Mackenna Mozingo 2, Caroline Meyers 2