Kai Crutchfield doesn’t like attention, but after banking in the game-winning shot to win a state championship, it’s been hard for her to avoid it.
Her teammate Andreal Bass was at the free throw line with a chance to tie the game, 3.5 seconds showing. When the shot bounced off the rim, Crutchfield extended her entire 5-foot-9 frame to secure the rebound and put back the game-winning shot off the glass.
She jumped up and down and was greeted by her buzzing teammates, as the Millbrook Wildcats had just won the 2016 N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A championship thanks to her. Millbrook topped Northwest Guilford, 46-45, on March 12 at the Smith Center.
“It still plays in my head, in slow motion,” Crutchfield said. “It was the longest (3.5) seconds of my life. When it happened, all I could do was jump up and down.”
The junior guard is no stranger to putting back shots; it’s something she said she does often in practice. But last Saturday presented challenges she hadn’t faced in practice: the time, the defender and what was on the line.
She was tracked by Northwest senior Morgan Pointer, a 6-foot forward. But Crutchfield, with just a couple of seconds left in the title game, gracefully shot over her.
“It was way different than practice,” Crutchfield said.
Crutchfield, who comes from an athletic family, has been playing basketball for nine years. She said she picked one up and realized she had a feel for the game.
She’s already committed to play at N.C. State after the coaching staff created a home-feel for her.
Crutchfield also hopes to use her senior season with the Wildcats, who didn’t lose to any in-state team all season, to build off of the success of 2015-16.
“(The Millbrook fans) started this thing called ‘Clutch-field,’” Crutchfield said. “Everyone calls me ‘Clutch-field.’ In class, the teacher would be like, ‘Can I have a volunteer?’ and everyone would yell out ‘Clutch-field.’ It feels good to have people congratulate you and to be a state champion to represent your school.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan
Sport / Position: Basketball / Guard
Fun fact: Could eat breakfast food all day