The Day's 2014 All-Area Girls' Basketball Player of the Year: New London's Lexus Childs-Harris
Her symptoms, gone for nearly a year, returned just before her senior season began.
Lexus Childs-Harris, again fighting Graves disease, which affects the thyroid and can result in a faster heart rate, was informed she couldn't play for the New London High School girls' basketball team, which would go on to win the first state championship in program history.
"It was in remission and it came back, of all things," Childs-Harris said.
"They told her you can't play and she just started crying," said her mom, Sendra Childs-Cornish.
So this is what Childs-Harris did. For four weeks, until her medication had a chance to seize control, she took her heart rate and pulse before every game and again at halftime. If her rate was too high, she couldn't play. She came out, as she estimates, "every two minutes."
"I had to limit my minutes in the game. You can't get into the game that way. Someone's at the table and it's for you," she said. "On the court, I felt it a lot. I was sleepy. I have asthma and it affects that, too. I wasn't paying attention in class."
But Childs-Harris, who corrected her mom for calling her "strong" in a recent interview - "don't feel bad for me," she said - played anyway.
She led by example. She led with her talent. When the Class M state championship game was over, New London coach Kerrianne Dugan said she was certain her team, most of the players returning a year from now, wanted to this win one for their graduating seniors.
Childs-Harris, a guard who committed to play next season for Division II Post University, has been named The Day's 2014 All-Area Girls' Basketball Player of the Year.
She finished by averaging 11.4 points per game for the Whalers (24-4), 5.6 rebounds, a team-high four assists and 2.3 steals.
An All-Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division and ECC All-Tournament selection, Childs-Harris scored 14 points in the quarterfinals of the state tournament to help beat East Catholic (53-44) and a team-best 14 in the semifinals in an upset of top-seeded Holy Cross (44-32). In the semifinals, she was 10 of 12 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, allowing the Whalers to reach their first state championship.
She was one of four players in double figures in the title game, a 57-52 win over Morgan, with 10 points, five assists and four rebounds, wearing the net around her neck like jewelry in the celebration that ensued at Mohegan Sun Arena.
"It has and it hasn't," Childs-Harris said, asked if the championship season, just two years after the Whalers went 2-18, has sunk in yet. "It's still sinking in right now.
"The whole time we had it in the back of our mind, but you don't believe it until you were there."
Dugan said that Childs-Harris was instrumental to her success as a new coach when she first took over last season and that carried over into 2013-14, when Childs-Harris started along with a junior, a sophomore and two freshmen.
"She was injured in the beginning of the year and it was obvious what was missing, like, 'Oh, right. Lexus was out,'" Dugan said. "The key to us having a great practice was her intensity.
"The girls all look up to her. The younger girls aspire to be a leader in the way that she was. Sometimes you have those certain kids. I try to coach as much as I can, but I can look over into the line and Jada (Lucas, a freshman) just messed up a drill and Lexus pulled her aside.
"I saw her do those things. And she doesn't need any prompting. That's just the type of person she is. ... Once she started getting in the groove, it's the best I've ever seen her play."
Childs-Harris grew up playing basketball with her brothers Bryce and Torin, both of whom played for the New London boys' team, and with her cousins, including Khary Childs, who plays for the Ledyard boys.
Her first basketball game came when she was just a week old, watching her uncle, Jarion Childs, play at St. Thomas More.
"That's where my toughness comes from. My family," she said. "I was always around. I would see them do something and think, 'Maybe I should try that.'"
Childs-Harris, who is part of the biomedical program at the Science & Technology Magnet High School of Southeastern Connecticut, adjacent to New London High, has planned since kindergarten to be a doctor.
"It's amazing, but it's expected also," Sendra Childs-Cornish said of her daughter's successes, in spite of an illness that threatened to derail a state title run. "She's such a strong girl."
The Day's 2014 All-Area Girls' Basketball Team
Player of the Year: Lexus Childs-Harris (New London)
Margot Calmar (Stonington)
Hannah Hutchins (Ledyard)
Charee Osborne (New London)
Jenna Schumacher (East Lyme)
Alyssa Velles (NFA)
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