After countless hours of practice and giving it their all on the hardwood to finish with an 18-5 mark on the season, the South Walton High School coaching staff gave back to the girl’s basketball team Tuesday night with a banquet at Cantina Laredo in Grand Boulevard.
And the word that rang true throughout the evening as Coach Kevin Craig spoke of each senior on the team was “commitment.”
“It’s been an incredible run for this group of seniors,” Craig said.
For some they had the chance to play in the state Final Four as sophomores and then as juniors.
“And tonight is about sending them off,” Craig said. “And every single one of them is going to college. It’s a great group of kids.
“Wins are great, but it’s what they’ve gone through together that matters to me. You can’t put a value on it,” he added.
Craig recognized everyone on the team and then the eight seniors.
First up, and in no particular order, was Allee Coble.
Coble, who played for Craig all four years, set a new school record as the team's all-time leading scorer with 1,070 points.
“Her skills have improved and she’s been a leader on the court,” Craig said. “You don’t replace an Allee Coble.”
Up next was Allison Richards.
Richards moved from Georgia to South Walton her sophomore year, but didn’t come out for basketball until her junior year.
“She had a great two years,” Craig said.
Devany Beard was another move-in of sorts.
Beard played for Freeport High her freshman year, the year the Freeport Bulldogs won the state championship.
Then she made the move to South Walton.
“She’s come a long, long, long way,” Craig said. “She’s intense and a great athlete … and extremely unselfish.”
Next up was Ciera Rowland.
“She’s the nicest kid and team oriented,” Craig said.
He also said she was a leader on and off the court.
Georgia Johnson, who played all four year for Craig, was next.
“She got better and better every year,” Craig said. “Her personality is one in a million … it’s infectious. She was a God send for this program … she makes everybody laugh.”
He went on to say that he could put Georgia and Devany on a player to guard and they would be “their worst nightmare.”
Shannon Cole was another four-year player for the Seahawks.
“She loved this basketball program,” Craig said. “And I think her best days are ahead for her.”
Gabby Barksdale came in to the program as a sophomore.
“She had the worst luck,” Craig said of injuries and other things. “But she wanted to play.”
Even as a junior, she went back and played on the junior varsity team because “she wanted to play and get better,” Craig said.
Gracie Ricci was part of the Seahawk program all four years.
“Four years ago when Gracie came in my hair was black,” said the gray-haired Craig. “I was tough and brutal at times on her, but I knew she could handle it.”
And in the big games she came up big.
“She had a mental toughness,” Craig said.
After each senior was recognized Craig went on to praise them as a group and noted their commitment to the program.
“They were committed to doing something and doing it well,” he said. “I’m going to miss this group. They accomplished a lot.”