There were tears. Fighting and losing a region championship game can be a disappointing proposition.
Oconee County High School’s girls basketball team shed their tears following their 38-22 loss at the hands St. Pius X Catholic on Friday night.
The Lady Warriors earned a win over Madison County High School 42-32 on Thursday to claim their spot in the Region 8-4A championship game.
Friday night they came out with hopes of duplicating the emotion and solid performance posted of the day before.
For a while it worked. Things looked good The Lady Warriors pulled ahead of the Lady Golden Lions 20-18 at the outset of the fourth quarter.
A 20-2 run took the air out of the gymnasium and the Lady Warriors’ chances of holding the big trophy at the end of the night. OCHS head coach Phillip Manning felt the Lady Warriors got their shots throughout the game, but in the fourth quarter the missed shots and the Golden Lions’ parade to the free throw line slowly opened up a gap the OCHS couldn’t close.
“We got a lot of shots that we would take, but it just seemed like there was a lid on the basket, it just wouldn’t go down,” Manning said. “I think it just finally caught up with us in the fourth quarter. Credit to St. Pius. They’re a well-coached team and they played extremely well. It was a battle. Down the stretch they got a few more rebounds. They’ve got a little bit more height, a little bit more size and I think we got a little bit worn down. I don’t think our girls could have played any harder. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Manning understood his team’s disappointment. The outpouring of emotion following the game was expected and well warranted.
Winning the region title was one of the Lady Warriors’ main goals heading into the 2019-2020 season, missing out on that goal understandably hurt.
“It’s okay being disappointed,” Manning said. “If we were happy with losing tonight, it would be a problem. It’s okay to be upset and it’s okay to be disappointed.”
After a few minutes of disappointment the Lady Warriors’ focus shifted. The big picture came into focus throughout the evening.
Everything that occurred over the two-day tournament earned the Lady Warriors the right to host the title game as a home team. The Lady Warriors will walk away as a number two seed and have the right to host a state tournament game.
Many of the seniors on the roster started as freshmen on a team that only won seven games the year after going 1-24. One of those seniors, Julia Peroni scored her 1,000th point on Thursday night to add to the growing list of accomplishments.
Manning began planting the seeds of the big picture for the Lady Warriors in the locker room on Friday night.
“We’ve still accomplished a great deal,” Manning said. “I don’t know when the last time Oconee County’s girls played for a region championship. The trophy wasn’t as big as what we hoped, but it’s still a trophy that we have in there that we can be proud of. Now we’re going to try and wreck some havoc in the state tournament.”
The Lady Warriors will play host to the third seeded team out of Region 6-4A in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament.