Lady Buccaneers win Class AA state championship

Published 10:45 am Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Facing Leake Academy’s Rebelettes in the championship game of the MAIS Class AA State Tournament Saturday afternoon, Bowling Green School’s Lady Bucs came away with a 55-49 victory and the title.

Coach Pat King said his team had a tough opponent. Leake has taken the AA state championship for seven years in a row, and coach Doyle Wolverton has won 15 altogether. The Rebelettes have also been AA North State champions for 12 consecutive years.

“It was a pretty tall task,” King said. “Our kids were up to the challenge, though.”

The Lady Bucs led early in the game, but the Rebelettes were on top of the scoreboard, 14-6, by the end of the first quarter. Leake was winning at the end of the second quarter, when the score was 24-20, and at the close of the third quarter, 34-36.

Though his team led only at the beginning of the first quarter and late in the fourth quarter, they worked together throughout the game, displaying “maybe the best team effort that I’ve seen this year to pull out a victory,” King said.

The team plays seven deep, with five starters and assistance coming from two players off the bench, and all the players did their jobs during the big game, King said. Reagan Moody led the team in scoring with 13 points, while Mackayla Dykes, Caroline Haik, Melissa Crowe, Ashley Foret and Kristina Jarrell added five points apiece. Breanna McNeese contributed two points, along with some good defensive stops and rebounds, he said.

Winning a state championship, King said, is an indescribable experience. He said he is happy for the team’s three seniors, Dykes, Haik and Kelly Slimp, and for the other nine kids who have worked hard since last May to get to this point.

“Seeing their joy and seeing how excited they were, to know that all their hard work paid off — at that moment, that’s really what I was concerned about,” he said.

King is in his 12th year of coaching at Bowling Green and his 10th year of coaching the varsity girls basketball team. In that time, he has made it to three state championship games that ended in a loss, one with girls basketball, one with boys basketball and one with softball. Thus, he said, his teams have been there before, but never quite gotten over the hump until now.

The girls basketball team has one other state championship on its record books, back in 1991.

The current season, which ended with 36-1 record and a AA state championship, has had its share of ups and downs, King said. The team was coming off another outstanding season, where they finished with 35 wins and four losses, and they handled those expectations well, both mentally and physically, he said.

“They stayed together as a team,” he said. “They love one another. They play hard for one another. It’s just a special group of kids; it’s just a special team.”

King, who attended and gradated from Bowling Green, said the only period of time he has not been affiliated with the school is the four years he was in college, 1996 through 2000. He said he loves the school and considers the people there to be his other family. He said it was great to look up into the stands during the championship game and see the gym packed with Bowling Green teachers, students, alumni and former coaches and teachers.

“It makes you feel really special that those people really care about the individuals and still care about this school so deeply,” he said. “That was a great part, seeing how much joy our 12 young ladies brought to our BGS family and how much joy it brought us that our BGS family was so supportive of us.”

Principal Beverly Young agreed, saying all that fan support was like having an extra player in the game and adding a “Go Bucs!”

“We’re so excited and proud for our girls and coaches,” she said. “This was a great victory, but we’re not finished yet.

“We love the support of our student body, parents and community.”

Lady Bucs fans will have further opportunity to cheer. The team now moves on to the overall basketball tournament at Mississippi College in Clinton, Miss., which began Tuesday and concludes Saturday. The top three teams from each class, A, AA and AAA, move on to the tournament, King said.

Bowling Green will take on Class A runner up Tri-County Academy on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.