Treasure Hunt and Hamilton Heights Christian get biggest win after girls' basketball season
During practice last month, a momentous email popped into Keisha Hunt's inbox on her iPhone at 4:03 p.m. She wanted -- needed -- to share the news with her basketball team, but she feared she might break down in tears. So she called on her daughter, Treasure Hunt, to do it.
Treasure, a rising senior, took her mom's phone and read the email out loud. Her teammates crowded in to look at the screen over her shoulder.
"It is with tremendous pleasure," Treasure Hunt read, "to announce that Hamilton Heights Christian Academy WILL NOT be closing as reported earlier this month."
There was more, but that's all Hunt could relay before the team erupted in celebration.
"Everybody started cheering, jumping up and down," Treasure Hunt said. "Tears came to my eyes. It made me feel something I hadn't felt in a long time."
Because of mounting debt, Hamilton Heights was set to close for good this summer. But, according to principal Krystal Bankston's email, the school in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was saved thanks to "the support of the Hickory Valley Community Church and a number of out-of-state, long-term benefactors who are committed to helping [us] grow and prosper."
Hamilton Heights is a small high school -- only 60 students in grades nine through 12. There's a roughly 50-50 split between local and international students, and it was concern for that last group that had Treasure Hunt worried.
"I have teammates from Nigeria, Brazil, Canada and Dominican Republic," she said. "If the school closed, they would have had to go back home. That's why I was so excited when they saved the school. Now my teammates will have a better opportunity in life."
Treasure Hunt, a 6-foot-2 wing and the No. 36 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Super 60 for the 2020 class, averaged 19.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.3 steals last season against some of the nation's top teams.
A week before the joyous email arrived, she was celebrating in Colorado Springs, Colorado, after winning the USA Basketball 3x3 U18 national title alongside Olivia Cochran, Madison Hayes and Raven Johnson. In the final, they beat a team composed of Haley Jones, Paige Bueckers, Samantha Brunelle and Hailey Van Lith.
"It was an amazing feeling beating all those top players on one team," Hunt said. "I had to prove to myself that I could beat them."
Back home, she was getting set to enroll in a new charter school, Gaffney Athletic (Cleveland, Tennessee), when her team's prayers were answered.
"We were going to make it work," Keisha Hunt said. "But thank goodness we didn't have to leave."
Hamilton Heights is far more than just a school for the Hunt Family. It's home.
Treasure Hunt, the youngest of Keisha's four children, was 2 years old when her parents divorced. Keisha and the kids -- Amber, Joshua and Raven are the others -- moved from Louisiana to Tennessee. Soon after their arrival in Chattanooga, Keisha joined the Hamilton Heights coaching staff under her brother, Shawn Stone. When he left to focus on his fast-growing construction company, Keisha took over. Their father, James Stone, remains an assistant coach on Keisha Hunt's staff.
Over the years, Hunt's three oldest children graduated from Hamilton Heights, and the girls' basketball team became a powerhouse. Twice, in 2017 and 2018, it has come a win short of claiming the Geico High School Nationals title. Keisha just completed her 10th season as head coach and has compiled a 227-52 record with eight National Association of Christian Athletes titles.
Treasure Hunt was on both of those Geico finalist teams, sharing minutes with players such as Elizabeth Balogun, the reigning ACC rookie of the year who recently transferred from Georgia Tech to Louisville; and Jazmine Massengill, who plays for Tennessee.
It's possible Treasure Hunt will join either Balogun at Louisville or Massengill at Tennessee, since those are two of the 12 colleges on her recruiting list. The other colleges she is considering are Auburn, Baylor, Florida State, Kentucky, LSU, Miami, Mississippi State, NC State, South Carolina and UCLA.
The plan is to cut the schools to five by July, with official visits to follow.
"I don't want Treasure to make a decision based on what college is popular," Keisha Hunt said. "I want her to find a coach who will hold her accountable and push her hard ... but love her, too."
Massengill says she hopes Treasure Hunt picks Tennessee.
"The best part of Treasure's game is her jump shot," Massengill said. "She can shoot from anywhere on the floor, but she has the whole package. I think she's going to be better than me."
Balogun said she hopes Hunt chooses Louisville.
"She's going to help whatever school she goes to," Balogun said. "She can really shoot the ball, and she can also put it on the floor and take a smaller guard to the rack."
One thing is a virtual certainty: Treasure Hunt will jump out on whichever roster she lands.
Keisha Hunt explains her daughter's name.
"When she was little, my oldest daughter, Raven (now 28), had a friend named Treasure," Keisha said. "I said, 'You know, that sort of sounds good. If I ever have another daughter, that's going to be her name. It has a nice ring to it.'"