Three generations of Model Lady Blue Devils gathered on the court Friday night to witness the passing of the baton from one legendary player to another.
Senior forward Victaria Saxton, who has been a powerful force for Model in each of the last four years, was recognized as the Lady Devils’ all-time leading scorer and given a commemorative basketball following the team’s 50-35 win over Chattooga.
And the person to present it to her was the player she surpassed to earn the title.
Cheryl Autry, the Model High School Hall of Fame player, had held the scoring record since 1978 when she reached 2,100 points in her career under former coach Sherry Gatlin and was on hand Friday night to greet Saxton as she made her way to center court.
“It was a surprise. I didn’t expect it to happen at this moment, but it was really nice to get to meet Ms. Cheryl Autry,” Saxton said.
Model head coach Sally Echols, a former Lady Devil herself, said it was through the unfortunate passing of Gatlin last month that she began to get to know Autry more and have her come to recognize Saxton.
“It’s really a unique experience to have someone literally pass the ball to the new leading scorer,” Echols said. “It was an honor tonight to have her here to present that to V.”
Saxton, who still has half of a season left to play, broke Autry’s record during a Region 7-AA game against Pepperell on Dec. 5. The 6-foot-1 South Carolina signee has over 2,300 points so far along with 74 career double-doubles and seven triple-doubles.
Autry, who also went on to play collegiately at South Carolina, spoke to the players after the game and emphasized how much great coaching and great teammates are behind every great player.
“It means a lot. I think it’s really cool to be that person. But as she told us in there, you can’t do it without the team that we have and the coaches that we’ve got,” Saxton said. “If it wasn’t for everybody contributing, it wouldn’t be like this. So I really thank them a lot.”
Saxton led Model in Friday’s game with 24 points and 12 rebounds as the Lady Devils (13-3, 7-0) opened with a 10-0 run and never let up, going on runs of 10 or more points to open all but the third period against Chattooga.
Six other Model players reached the scoring column. Libby Upton scored seven points. Chattooga (7-7, 3-4) was paced by Faith Ann Foster, who scored 23 points, including a trio of 3-pointers in the final two minutes of the game that was part of a personal 14-0 run.
Model travels to Gordon Central today for a 4 p.m. tipoff while Chattooga hosts Southeast Whitfield in a non-region contest at 1:30 p.m.