The Chipley Lady Tiger and the South Walton Lady Seahawk girls basketball programs have never won a State Championship. This year- the two squads hoping to change that as both have punched tickets to the Class 1A State Finals in Lakeland.
The Lady Seahawks beat defending Class 1A State Champ Ponce de Leon to lock in their spot. The Regional Championship the first for any team sport at South Walton, as no team at the school has ever made it to the State Finals. Players and Head Coach Kevin Craig still having a hard time grasping the fact of a possible State title.
"It's not just the team, it's what it's done for this school and this community," says Coach Craig. "It's just such an uplifting thing. That crowd last night, I'm just get goose bumps thinking about what it's done for South Walton High School."
"I think it's pretty cool to be able to do something that this school hasn't done before in any sport as long as it's been here the whole ten years," says senior Kati Trejo. "I'm just really glad to be apart of it."
"Everything we do it was always to get to this point and we're finally here," says fellow senior Tayler Menard. "Everything worked out perfectly and we finally got our goal that we've been working so hard for."
Coach Craig says he plans on letting the girls enjoy the trip- but they have to get back to business- as the team agrees they have to represent their hometown.
"It's for our whole community," senior Morgan Kennedy says. "Our community hasn't ever experienced this before either. It's for everyone- not just our school."
"I feel like every court has the same lines and the same goal," says Menard of playing in unfamiliar territory. "As long as we play basketball, it'll be the same no matter where we are."
"We need to keep our focus," agrees teammate Eve Heffron. "If we don't, we might lose control a little bit. We showed last night we can do that, so we'll do it again."
"For Santa Rosa Beach, for a relatively new school without any traditions really, that would be the biggest thing," Coach Craig says. "To bring that home to this school and this community would be something. Hopefully we can worry about that Tuesday night."
The Lady Hawks not the only area team packing up and heading to Lakeland, as Sunday afternoon, Chipley joined South Walton on the road to the Final Four. The Lady Tigers beat rival Holmes County last night on their home court to seal up their spot in the Finals, a place they haven't been since 2005, when they lost in the State Semifinals.
Chipley faces Hilliard in their Final Four contest at 9 am/CT. South Walton faces The Villages at 10:30 am/CT. If they win, they will face each other in the State Championship game on Wednesday.