South Walton Seahawks 'out toughed' in state competition

Tina Harbuck
South Walton's Allee Coble drives the lane during their Class 1A semifinal against Trenton in the FHSAA Girls Basketball Finals at The Lakeland Center on Tuesday.Trenton defeated South Walton 45-34 to advance to the final. Coble tied the game-high with 12 points.

Playing on the biggest platform of their high school career, the South Walton Seahawks were “out toughed” by the Trenton Tigers in the Class 1A Girls Basketball State Semifinals in Lakeland Tuesday morning by a score of 45-34.

“They took it to us,” said South Walton Coach Kevin Craig on the bus ride home Wednesday.

“We got killed on offensive rebounds.”

Trenton pulled down 23 offensive rebounds, while South Walton got 13.

“I thought they were a good team, but I thought we could beat them. We just couldn’t score,” he said.

In the first half, the Seahawks hung with the Tigers trailing only 26-22 at the break.

In the third, Trenton began to pull away and led 37-28.

In the final quarter, Trenton put up eight and South six.

“We were in it the entire game. We just could not stop them from getting rebounds,” he said.

Leading the Seahawks in points and rebounds was sophomore Allee Coble with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Megan O’Neal and Savannah Slade each scored 10 points.

Craig said this trip to the state tournament reminded him of when he took the Fort Walton Beach girls in 2003.

“I thought we had the best team then, but we played one of the worst games,” he said.

But the Seahawks may have a chance to make the trip to Lakeland again next year with 14 of the 15 players returning.

However, there will be one Seahawk missing from the squad, senior guard Megan O’Neal.

“I’ve never met a kid like her … this (basketball) was her life,” he said.

“She’s a great teammate, the kids just loved her. You don’t replace a kid like Megan,” Craig said.

“Guards win championships and seniors,” he said.

“This team doesn’t have a sense of urgency,” Craig said, like a group of seniors do playing for their last chance.

Although disappointed right now, Craig said he understands they had a good run, finishing the season at 25-4.

The key now is “how do you respond to this … that’s how you learn,” noting its more than a game, but lessons for life.