After losing 312 consecutive games, the Carroll Academy girls basketball team put a tally in the win column for the first time on Friday.
The nation’s longest losing streak came to an end as the Lady Jags beat Immaculate Conception 29-27 in double overtime at home.
Carroll Academy started playing girls basketball in 2005.
“The girls knew the significance of it,” Carroll Academy coach Randy Hatch said. “They were upset at the end of regulation because they were so close, but it was tied. It was so close, and they were afraid something would happen the other way.
“This was their goal from the beginning of the season. They were all crying and bawling. I told them there is nothing to cry about tonight.”
The team of six girls had to try and keep emotions in check, especially at the end of regulation when Kaitlyn Evans sank a 3-pointer to send the game to the first overtime.
“We were behind most of the night,” Hatch said. “Kaitlyn hit the 3 at the buzzer to tie it 22-all.”
Evans finished the night with 22 points and 16 rebounds to lead the way for the Lady Jags.
“She had some big 3-point games last year,” Hatch said. “She was exhausted. She has more help this year, but the second-best player fouled out in the third quarter. It looked hopeless after that because she was one of our main ball handlers.”
Hatch said that the difference was the rebounding by his team.
“We rebounded a little better,” he said. “The passing wasn’t good. I told the girls, ‘We are wearing white, quit throwing it to the girls in blue.’ We had those turnovers that were unforced, but we played good defense and got the rebounds.”
With a school enrollment of 44, every high school girl plays on the basketball team.
Hatch was scared his team wouldn’t be up for Friday’s game after Thursday’s 40-29 loss to Margolin Hebrew Academy, as the girls felt they could have won that one also.
“We got down 14-0, and then the rest it was 29-26,” Hatch said. “They were crushed. You wouldn’t expect a win after that one. I could see it in them. I told them this is another round.”
Carroll Academy’s losing streak has been chronicled by the New York Times with a series of stories and featured by ESPN’s “SportsCenter.” Hatch, who has been head coach or an assistant for all 312 losses, has also written a book called “Winning to Lose.”
“These girls don’t know one another, they haven’t played together and they have had limited basketball knowledge,” Hatch said. “They are learning the game, how to line up for free throws and how to substitute. They want to win, but they want to play. They find just as much fun in competing as the scoreboard. Whatever the scoreboard says, it says. They just know they are going to get to play again. The last game of the season is what gets them.”
Carroll Academy returns to action on Tuesday against district foe University School of Jackson. But for Friday night the Lady Jags will enjoy the win.