The Riverdale Baptist girls' basketball program earned its second national championship of the past three years when the Crusaders captured the Dick's Sporting Goods High School National Tournament April 5, thanks in part to the efforts of senior point guard Chania Ray.
"Chania has been very instrumental in what we do," said Riverdale Baptist head coach Sam Caldwell, who guided the 2013-14 team to a 29-3 record after winning more than 30 games during each of the previous two seasons.
Ray scored 41 points during the Crusaders' two victories at Madison Square Garden in New York City, including 22 points during the title game, a 60-35 win against Fremont High (Utah).
"It felt really good just to be able to think that this was once a dream, playing on a court like that," said Ray, who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. "It felt good to actually play there, and then not only play, but win."
Ray, who is committed to Florida State, helped engineer Riverdale Baptist's 19-point comeback during the semifinal game, and scored on an uncontested layup during the final seconds to lift the Crusaders past Edgewater High (Florida), 59-58.
Ray's last-second heroics were instrumental for a Riverdale Baptist team that was on the brink of elimination during the game's waning moments.
"I didn't see anything open," Ray said, "so I just took it all the way in, and, luckily, my teammates were spread out past the half court, so it left more room for me to just dribble through the traffic and then finish."
The win was the culmination of a landmark season for Riverdale Baptist, and helped put the finishing touches on Ray's high school career.
The 5-foot-9 Ray boasts a 3.45 grade point average and led the Crusaders in scoring with a 20.1 points-per-game average. She also averaged eight assists and six rebounds per game.
Riverdale Baptist finished the season as the top-ranked team in the Washington, D.C., area, and ranked among the nation's elite. The 2013-14 Crusaders will go down in history as one of the area's best teams of all time.
"It just means a lot to me to be one of the top teams in the area in history, especially coming from Riverdale and then just helping the team grow," Ray said. "It just really means a lot to know that I played on one of the top teams or maybe the top team in the area."