Coach Michael Clifton said, “The look on their faces as they waited on the buzzer was priceless.”
It was indeed a moment to cherish for the Marshall Academy Lady Patriots and their fans Saturday afternoon as they clinched the Class AA state championship.
The celebration was a long and well-deserved one on the court at Winona Christian School. It was the first state title in 20 years for the girls program at MA.
These Lady Patriots exemplify the word team to the fullest extent. The girls are close. They’re one, and it is exemplified by their teamwork on the hardwood and their togetherness off the court, too.
And that stop in Winona was just one on The South Reporter’s traveling basketball road show as post-season action just keeps on keeping on.
Our family (with our ninth grader Erin on the MA team) enjoyed that game Saturday afternoon.
Then afterwards, since we were only an hour and a half way, Andy and I headed to Raymond for the Byhalia Indians’ second round Class 4A playoff game versus the Rangers.
I’ve been to a lot of games in a lot of places, in a lot of hostile environments, but none was any tougher than what the Indians faced Saturday night in Hinds County.
Andy and I sat on the bottom row near midcourt, beside Gary Hannah (assistant superintendent of education for Marshall County Schools). And we thought we were on the visitors’ side of the gym.
Leading up to tipoff, it looked as if it was going to be a small crowd. But at 7 p.m. and even a bit later, the gymnasium filled almost to capacity - with Raymond fans spilling over onto the visitors’ side as well.
The Indians battled their guts out only to lose by four in the end.
As we were leaving Andy said, “I believe that’s the loudest gym I’ve ever been in.”
I was proud of the Indians for many reasons, particularly for their composure and class on the court.
Meanwhile, sports editor Willie Ann Shelton, sports editor emeritus Claude Vinson and driver Ed Vinson were on the road to Greenwood Friday night and New Site Saturday night.
They saw a pair of victories – the Byhalia Lady Indians beating the Lady Bulldogs in the Delta and the Holly Springs Hawks eliminating the Royals in Prentiss County.
And also picking up victories were both Ashland teams from our neighboring county of Benton. The Lady Devils and Devils will be making the trip down I-55 this week, too, joining the Byhalia girls and Holly High boys.
The Marshall Lady Pats, with a state title trophy in hand, are still playing, too, competing in the MAIS Overall Tournament.
When I moved to Marshall County 16 years ago, I was told this is a “basketball county.” And I’ve loved witnessing the success firsthand.
And in 2017, the newspaper staff is happy to be “on the road again” to Jackson, following our teams.