THE GOOD STUFF: Shooting for Two

Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 10:02 AM CST
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SABINE PARISH, La. (KSLA) - The longtime girls head basketball coach, Dewain Strother, has had a legendary career.

He’s now retiring after a nearly 40-year historic coaching career and more than 1,200 wins. His Florien Lady Blackcats lost Monday night (Feb. 27) in the Louisiana State Semifinals, but not before Coach Strother had a front row seat for someone else who recently made her own high school history.

Halley Phillips, a senior at Converse High School, didn’t set any state or school records, but just before the high school season ended, she scored the biggest two points of her playing career.

For Halley, it has to be a pretty special occasion for her to want to take a seat inside Christie Dixon’s hair shop. It’s all for Senior Night for the Lady Wildcats basketball team. This time, she’s getting braids mixed with official Wildcat colors. It’s quite the statement for a teenager who would just as soon be sitting in a fishing boat with her dad instead.

Phillips discovered she had cancer at just 12-years-old. Stomach pains led to the discovery of what was first thought to be a tumor the size of a softball. But by the time they got to St. Jude Cancer Center in Tennessee, it was found to be the size of a loaf of bread.

A breast cancer survivor herself, Halley’s mom Jennifer, knows what it means to put up the good fight.

“When I was pregnant, I did miscarry. She [Halley] had a twin.”

Jennifer says they were faced with serious medical issues right away.

“When she was 3-weeks-old, she did stop breathing on me...we noticed delayments when she was 4-months-old. She didn’t start walking until 2-years-old.”

After a young lifetime of managing through delayed motor skills, speech and a battle with cancer, Jennifer was a bit shocked with what came next. A year ago, Halley asked if she could try out for the high school basketball team.

For their final game of the season, the gym was packed. Coach Strother felt there was no better night for the team to do something special for Halley. Over the past couple of seasons, he’s been able to get her in games, but she’d never attempted a shot. To make the night special for her, he set up Halley to do her first start and score the only two points of her high school career.

“If I can make one memory for her, then I feel like I’ve done my job.”

On the scoreboard, it may just show as two points scored on a night with dozens of others. But it’s moments like this one legends live for and proud mothers raise kids for.