And the beat goes on.
Yep. Lauderdale County made another trip to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center this past week, and once again the Tigers returned to Rogersville with another state championship.
It’s the 10th time that’s happened since they’ve been playing girls basketball at LCHS in 1978, the most in girls basketball in Alabama.
After Saturday’s win, 59-41 over Holly Pond, coach Brant Llewellyn matched one of his mentors, Larry Sinyard, with his fifth state title in just 14 years. Although the Tigers rolled through both games at the Final 48, Llewellyn said it’s not as easy as LCHS has made it look.
For example, this year the Tigers beat five Top 10 teams in their postseason run. One slip could have ended their championship dream before it started. Like most coaches, Llewellyn doesn’t like to compare teams and he tries not to play favorites but this year’s team will always be near and dear to his heart.
“All state titles are special,” he said. “I told the team in our meeting (Friday night) this one will go down as one of the most special ones just because the road was so tough. I don’t remember ever having such a tough road to get back to Birmingham. With all the odds against them, they kept winning the games they needed to win. It’s an awesome feeling. It never gets old when you win these things.”
Llewellyn recounted one story that possibly helped define the team. After playing poorly in a win, he had his team gather for a Sunday practice. He told them to line up along the baseline, and the Tigers were certain a long afternoon of running was in store.
“They thought I was mad at them,” he said, smiling. “They thought we were going to have a really tough practice. I surprised them. When they lined up at the beginning of practice, I said I want you to run all the way out there to the back parking lot and we’re going to Chuck E. Cheese.”
Llewellyn said the team spent several hours bonding at the popular pizza eatery.
“Sometimes you have to do something a little crazy as a coach,” Llewellyn said. “Our seniors did a really good job of leading the team and trying to do something to make sure we had that chemistry when we got to the postseason. With any team you are going to have your ups and downs during the season, and we’ve had our share of down moments. This team was determined.”
Ivy Wallen, just a ninth grader but now with two titles in her possession, said the feeling this year trumped her first title celebration.
“There was a whole lot more competition through all this,” she said. “From the beginning of the season we knew what we wanted. We had some ups and downs and fought through it. The feeling was better than last year.”
In the closing seconds Saturday, Lauderdale County’s student section began the inevitable chant: “Three-peat, three-peat, three-peat.”
The subject wasn’t broached in the postgame media session, but at Lauderdale Country the phrase state championship is never very far out of the public domain.
Contact Gregg Dewalt at 256-740-5748 or email@example.com. Follow @greggdewalt on Twitter.