Evans High School senior DeeDee Dewalt struggled to keep it together Friday when the Knights played host to Cross Creek.
The Evans student section serenaded her, singing Happy Birthday on numerous occasions as Dewalt tried to help her team end Senior Night with a win.
"I wanted to cry and wanted to stay focused at the same time," Dewalt said. "It was nice."
Dewalt scored 14 points and the Knights beat the Razorbacks 59-55. The win was Evans' second against Cross Creek this season.
The Knights have a senior-laden lineup, but many are new to the team. Coach Timothy Whitfield's squad has spent much of the season getting to know each other.
Dewalt moved into the area before the season after playing for Harlem last year. Senior Altelecia Anderson was in Germany for her junior year of high school after winning a state championship in Alabama as a sophomore.
The Knights have taken different paths, but players said after Friday's win they felt the team had come together, no matter the record.
"I feel like we've stepped up our game a lot," Anderson said. "We've grown as a team and (have) all gotten to know each other."
Anderson played a key role during the Knights' overtime victory.
With Evans down a point with 15 seconds remaining in regulation, she pushed the ball down the floor and was fouled on a layup attempt. She made one of two free throws to tie the game.
In overtime, her steal and layup pushed the Knights' lead to four with 34 seconds left.
All the seniors had something to contribute. Four Knights seniors finished in double figures during their final region home game.
Dewalt led the scoring. Felina Barnes added 13 points, Anderson finished with 12 and Jessica Mitchum added 10.
After the game, the seniors lined up on the court to be recognized by the crowd. The mood was probably much lighter than had the outcome been different.
"We played as a team better tonight," said Dewalt, who said she was headed for a birthday dinner with family members who made the drive from Atlanta. "We played hard ball, we hustled, we kept our spirits up throughout the whole game."
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