BOWLING GREEN — The next time you drive down Interstate 75, think of Chrysti Noble.
Think of her 21 years of coaching.
Think of her Rockcastle County team that clawed back from nine points down in the state championship game and survived overtime to top fellow No. 1 Manual 62-60 on Saturday night.
All Noble could think of was that sign and what it would mean to her community and her school, which won its first state championship.
"When you come through Rockcastle County, you'll see a sign that says 'Welcome to Rockcastle County, home of the girls' state basketball champions,'" Noble said with tears filling her eyes.
"They were determined. They've got so much heart. I can't say enough about them. It confirms that great things happen to good kids and good people."
When you see the sign, think of Sara Hammond, Houchens Industries/KHSAA Girls Sweet Sixteen Most Valuable Player, and her 26 points and 11 rebounds. She scored her team's first 11 points.
Think of her fellow senior Angie Lawrence, who hit the game winner, a falling-down floater in the lane with less than two seconds to play to put the Rockets up for good and help them complete a season where no team from the state of Kentucky beat them.
"It was the happiest feeling ever," Lawrence said of watching her shot fall through the hoop and hearing the record crowd erupt at Diddle Arena. "This is my dream to be able to win a state championship and to be the one that caused that — not only me, the team — it's just amazing."
The point guard, who had 18 points for Rockcastle, also hit two free throws in the final 30 seconds of regulation to force the overtime.
Noble didn't take a timeout for the last shot. She knew that her senior leaders Lawrence and Hammond would find a way.
Hammond knew it, too, and she got out of Lawrence's way.
"She had this look in her eye like she was taking it to the hole," Hammond said. "She's done this over and over and over again for us. ... We knew it was in her heart and we trust her with that shot."
Lawrence was still shaking 10 minutes after her game winner.
"We made history tonight," she said. "There's nothing that can beat that feeling."
Rockcastle won its 27th straight game, but it looked like that streak was in jeopardy against the Crimsons, who led by as many as nine points early in the third quarter.
Three straight three-pointers helped Rockcastle get back in it, with two Hammond free throws giving the Rockets their first lead of the second half.
It went back and forth from there until Lawrence made the big shot to win the game.
With five-tenths of a second left on the clock, Coach Stacy Pendleton called time out, but the Crimsons couldn't get a shot off.
"Our best wasn't good enough to win the game, but it's good enough for me," Pendleton said. "I'm proud of them. They just outscored us by two points. We just ran out of time."
The Crimsons, who won 21 in a row before the state title game, were led by Leasia Wright's 19 points and five rebounds.
Sydney Arvin had nine points and Michaela Hunter seven points for the winners, who became the first team from the 12th Region to win a state championship since Laurel County did it in 1991.
The Rockets also became the first team that wasn't from either Lexington or Louisville to win a title game in 10 years.
"This is the best feeling ever," said Hammond, the state's first-ever McDonald's All-American and a Louisville signee.
They did it in front of a record-setting championship crowd of 5,122 at Diddle Arena. The previous record for a title game was 4,724 set in 1998.
"They always said they wanted to play until them streamers fall down and the confetti comes," Noble said.
A sign on the highway will soon prove it.