Freshman who hit championship-winning shot for JCCC was playing for more than school spirit

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- March Madness comes home to the metro in a big way. Johnson County Community College has a national champion in its fold, as the Lady Cavaliers won in dramatic fashion this past weekend, using a last-second shot to beat Parkland College.

It's the school's second national championship in women's basketball, adding to the one the school won in 2000. When Lady Cavaluer freshman Alexis Brown sunk a jumpshot with three seconds remaining, she was playing for more than just school spirit.

"I did this for my daddy," Brown said on Tuesday. "Not just for my daddy, but for the team, too."

In late January 2011, 47-year-old Henry Curtis Randle Jr., died in his sleep. He had been Brown's stepfather since she was two years old, and he meant the world to her.

"It was kind of like a lesson learned," Brown said. "It told me just keep doing it for him. He made me want to keep going, but since he's dead, he really made me want to keep going and not to give up on anything."

Brown said doctors discovered it was liver failure that claimed Randle's life.

"He makes me play harder," Brown said.

She says she prays before every game, and thinks about her dad while she plays, including the game winner to notch the National Junior College Athletics Association Division Two Championship.

"She's a clutch player," JCCC Forward Nieka Wheeler said. "Players have something to play for. I think that was a big part of what she was playing for."

"For a player like her, it builds confidence," Lady Cavaliers coach Ben Conrad said." I don't think there's ever a moment she'll shy away from. Pressure isn't ever going to get to her."

And what would her dad have thought of Lexi's big moment?

"He probably would have been one of the happiest men alive, too. He probably would have gone crazy like I did," Brown said.

Brown says her next move on the court comes next year, and a chance to win another national title. There's still time to enjoy this championship, an accomplishment that would make any parent proud.

Johnson County Community College also won the women's national title in the year 2000. This year's ballclub finished with a record of 34-2, and most of this year's players are expected to return next season.

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