Two days after capturing the first team state title for South Walton High, the Lady Seahawks once again were met by a roaring home crowd.
Friday’s victory rally in the gym for the basketball team was another reminder of how important the win was, not just for the school but for the still-young community.
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“Having only been established 11 years ago … one thing that we don’t have is traditions and things like that, so to see the kids rally around this team is what this is all about,” Athletic Director Phil Tisa said. “It means more than just a state championship for this school.”
As for the girls who claimed the Florida 1A title, a little time and distance didn’t make Wednesday’s 58-49 win over Chipley in Lakeland any less remarkable.
“Yeah, we have the medals and the T-shirts, and everybody’s going crazy, but I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet,” said senior Tayler Menard.
Fellow seniors Kati Trejo, Morgan Kennedy and Eve Heffron shared her opinion, and added that they all had dreamed of the moment but never quite believed it could happen.
“As most freshmen, you probably can’t really fathom coming this far,” said Trejo, who added later, “(But) the fans were going crazy (at the championship game) and with them there, there was no way we could have lost.”
Coach Kevin Craig said his Lady Seahawks took a fairly non-traditional route to the championship, but when all was said and done he couldn’t have been more impressed.
“When it got between the lines, they played as well as any team I’ve coached, and I’ve had some great teams,” he said. “It was all about winning. They didn’t care who scored.”
That mentality was rewarded again Friday as Heffron, Menard, Kennedy and Trejo presented the championship trophy to Walton County Superintendent of Schools Carlene Anderson in front of cheering fans.
“I am so proud of these girls I have been on the verge of tears — I’m holding them back now — because I’m so excited,” Anderson said. “ … I have just been waiting for this.”
Moments after taking the trophy, the girls took turns speaking to the crowd and thanking them for their support.
“He (Craig) said that he couldn’t wait for this class to be seniors and to have all those people on the bench as like one team, and he said that was going to be the team to remember,” Menard said. “And we did that. We’re a team to remember.”