Before every game-opening jump ball, St. Frances Academy's Melba Chambers "does the sign of the cross and prays: ". . . in the name of the Son, the Father and the Holy Spirit. Amen."
Then she dribbles, grabs rebounds and scores like no other 5-foot-11 junior forward/guard in the Catholic League.
She has led her team to the No. 4 ranking in the area and second-place in the Catholic League while averaging 22.8 points and 9.4 rebounds. She has made a name for herself as one of the area's best players with her smooth jumper and her tough inside game.
She has gotten letters from Loyola, Stanford, Tennessee, Alabama, Penn State, North Carolina State and Maryland.
St. Mary's coach Harry Dobson, who has coached against Chambers the past two years in the Catholic League said: "She's a very good player. I'll be glad when she graduates."
Dobson's team beat St. Frances, 68-62, Feb. 18, despite Chambers' game-high 32 points. The victory virtually assured St. Mary's of winning the regular-season title.
Now Chambers has turned her attention to the Catholic League Tournament, which starts tomorrow.
"I want to win the Catholic League [Tournament] championship," said Chambers. "For us to win, we have to play hard and work together. I just hope and pray that no one gets hurt."
This year Chambers became the first St. Frances girl to score 40 points in a game, and she also has surpassed 1,000 points.
If it weren't for her grandmother, Chambers have accomplished what she has at St. Frances.
Chambers' grandmother (who also attended St. Frances) instilled the importance of a good Catholic education, and although her grandmother wanted her to attend St. Frances, Chambers had other ideas.
"I was thinking about going to Western," Chambers said. "I thought it [Western] was a good school and I could play basketball there. But I'm happy here."
Chambers is successful in her studies at St. Frances, currently holding a B average. She plans to become a lawyer, perhaps in criminal justice or child social work, because she enjoys helping those less fortunate. She volunteers at the Soup Kitchen and is a role model for younger parishioners at All Saints.
Chambers still doesn't think she does enough.
"It feels good to help people who don't have much," she said. "But I don't have time to do as much as I'd like to."
St. Frances coach Jerome Shelton says Chambers is a blessing in disguise.
"Melba has an infectious-type personality," he said. "That helps when trying to build team unity. She gets along and works well with others and I believe her religious faith helps her move in the right way."