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Lexus Childs-Harris still had tears of regret trickling down her face Friday night as she carried her senior night haul, flowers, balloons, etc., toward the door at New London High School.
It was a bittersweet night for Childs-Harris, who played great in a 48-36 loss to Norwich Free Academy in her final regular-season home game. She had 17 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, hitting two 3-pointers.
She kept scoring even as time was running out. A layup with 1:16 to play. A layup with 22 seconds left. A layup with 15 seconds left. A desperation heave at the buzzer.
"If she just played games against NFA, she'd be All-American," NFA coach Bill Scarlata said. "She killed us twice last year. Killed us. Once we were playing man-to-man and we put two people on her and we still couldn't stop her. She knows what she's doing."
"I was just trying to win," said Childs-Harris, who was honored along with fellow seniors Benisha Obas and Tamia DeBarros-Cannon prior to the game. "That wasn't supposed to happen like that. We weren't supposed to lose that game."
NFA, the two-time defending Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament champion, is ranked fifth in the state. New London hadn't lost to another ECC team this year, falling twice to No. 7 Weaver.
Both teams came in 16-2, hoping to see where they stood. Playing in different divisions of the ECC, there was no title on the line.
Childs-Harris, though, is one of the players on the New London roster who has been through the bad times as well as the good.
The Whalers were 2-18 before coach Kerrianne Dugan's arrival last season, at which point New London went 10-12 and earned berths in the ECC and state tournaments for the first time in eight years. Childs-Harris remembers the bad times.
"That's why this sucks so bad," she said, still teary. "I don't want to feel that way again."
Childs-Harris, who was joined by her mom Sendra Childs, dad Robert Harris, grandmother Eva Childs and brother Bryce Childs for her senior day festivities, can be hard on herself at times as a player, she said.
"Some days are better than others," she said with a smile. "I'm never really content with where I'm at."
Still, Childs-Harris was an All-ECC honorable mention pick last year in the Large Division, before the Whalers moved to the Medium this year. She plans to play in college, although she is not sure where just yet.
She's been a part of New London's transformation in girls' basketball. A big part.
"She's doing it every night," Dugan said, asked of Childs-Harris' performance Friday. "Even if she's not getting all the baskets. She does everything else. That's the type of person she is."