1994 STATE CHAMPS

Members of the 1994 3A state championship team are, left to right, Akilah Johnson, Leah Jones, statistician Anitra Sessoms, Charlotte Garner, Lorna Burke, Felicia Adams, Jennifer Lewis, Katrina Smith (in front), coach Phyllis Willis, Carla Linebarger, Tasha Sutton and Felicia Sessoms. Members of the team who weren’t in attendance are Lori Lewis, Shammara Henderson, scorebook keeper Melanie Burke, statistician Kelli Butler and assistant coach Penny Boudreaux. (J.J. Smith photo)

MOREHEAD CITY — West Carteret celebrated the 25th anniversary of the 1994 girls basketball state championship Friday at halftime of the East Carteret and West Carteret girls game.

The honor took place in the 25th year but 26 seasons after the Patriots ended their magical 1993-1994 campaign with a 48-43 win over Smoky Mountain in the 3A state final at Carmichael Auditorium on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill.

The 1994 West team is the only girls basketball squad in county history to win a state title.

The Morehead City outfit trailed 43-38 when it went on a 10-0 run over the final 2:40 of the fourth quarter to gain the victory and end the season 28-2. Led by coach Phyllis Willis, the Patriots finished the campaign on a 20-game winning streak.

Akilah Johnson was named the state final MVP, thanks to 18 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, and seven rebounds. Jennifer Lewis had 13 points, six of which came in the final period, and eight rebounds. Shammara Henderson went for four points and six rebounds, while Charlotte Garner added seven rebounds and three assists.

The team didn’t get to bed until 1 a.m. on the morning of the game after the bus broke down Friday night on the way from Morehead City to Chapel Hill.

The playoffs similarly proved dramatic for West.

Lewis suffered a broken toenail in the regional final but overcame the pain to score 23 points and earn the regional MVP in a 59-58 thriller over SouthWest Edgecombe. Katrina Smith played a fine all-around game with 10 points, six assists, three rebounds and three steals, while Johnson had 15 points and eight rebounds.

Lewis had 17 points and Henderson scored 16 in the 47-40 triumph over Asheboro in the regional semifinal.

Henderson produced a monster game of 21 points and 17 rebounds in the third-round win over Beddingfield, helping her team advance to the regionals for the second year in a row in a 56-49 victory.

Lewis had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Johnson contributed 14 points and three rebounds, and Smith chipped in with 13 points and six boards in a 56-45 triumph over West Craven in the second round.

The team enjoyed a first-round bye.

West won back-to-back conference and league tournament titles in 1993 and 1994, going a combined 52-5 during those two seasons.

The 1994 team featured two News-Times Player of the Year award winners – Lewis (1994) and Smith (1996) – and three members who played college ball, including Lewis and Smith at UNC-Greensboro and Johnson at Queens College.

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