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POTW: Johnquesha Childs

Johnquesha Childs is quiet. She is shy, reserved in a way that is increasingly rare in this day of boisterous athletes. But Tuesday on the floor of the BJCC, Childs muscled between a pair of Spring Garden players, grabbed the rebound off a free throw missed by her best friend Shafontaye Myers and put it back up and in before sprinting back down to the defensive end with the knowledge that she had just put her team in position to win with 36 seconds left in the game.

She dressed out, but was nothing more than a cheerleader during last year’s Final 48 run. A knee injury robbed her of her second consecutive season and left her helpless as her teammates fell in the semi-final round. For the fifth straight season, her squad’s championship aspirations ended in a loss.

This time the senior was on the floor, knee braces and all. And when the game was on the line, Childs showed the ferocity of a player who has known disappointment and refused to become acquainted with it again.

But her putback didn’t win the game. Life usually doesn’t work that way. The quiet kid usually doesn’t persevere the run of bad luck and come back to win the game. But her rebound and ensuing shot did something that her team really needed at that moment. It calmed her best friend.

Myers was exhausted. It was a fact she exclaimed with every movement between plays. She had scored 28 points, jacked up 36 shots from the field, played every second of the more than 35 minutes that were in the books to that point and fatigue had long since set in.

She went through her routine at the free throw line, she said her prayer and spun the ball. But the shot missed. And to watch Myers’ reaction, a world of hopes that took six years to build was about to crash off her shoulders and onto the BJCC hardwood. She jumped up and down with frustration. Her second shot was far less calculated and methodical, hinting of the desperation that was evident on the faces of the Sunshine reserve players who sat, faces in hands, half watching, half praying.

The second shot missed too. Although the game was tied, Sunshine’s hopes grew dimmer. Shafontaye Myers, amazing as she had been in her six-year career, was human after all.

So Childs did what she came to do. She gave her team a chance to win. She grabbed the ball, grabbed the lead, grabbed the moment all in the span of two seconds. In the moment when her best friend and teammate of six years seemingly could not carry her team any further, Childs effectively gave her the spark to go just a little more.

The record books will forever have that play as just a tick on a box score that has nine points and eight rebounds next to Johnquesha Childs’ name. But if Sunshine can get past J.F. Shields Thursday and finally make its dream a reality, it is Johnquesha Childs’ name and that one brilliant, routine play that will be forever mentioned in the same breath as her best friend, Shafontaye Myers.

Remembering her friend’s absence last year, it was Myers who best summed up Childs’ contributions during what could well become an epic moment in Sunshine lore.

“She really made that difference like we thought,” Myers said of Childs. “She had our backs. She knew the moment. She wanted it just as bad as I did. Moments where we were having a nervous breakdown, she pulled us through.”

— Jeremy D. Smith