SUMTER — There was definitely one thing the girls from Richard Winn Academy were not lacking following their state championship win over the Dragons of Marlboro Academy — words.
Players credited team chemistry and their coach for their success the past few seasons, including this state championship run.
“This is awesome,” said sophomore Cassidy Branham. “We just had faith in our teammates and this year we were able to win the big game.”
Freshman Jaycie Johnson said the experience from a year ago helped the players earn their mettle and know how to approach the championship game the right way.
“From last year and us playing … it’s incredible that we came back again even though we lost an amazing player from that team (in Alex Maas). Coming back here and winning it all is amazing. It really felt the same in the moments leading up to the game but this year it was a totally different experience,” Johnson said. “I play with an amazing team and it is very special to me, like a family.”
Freshman Megan Simpson was confident in herself and her teammates.
“It’s about time,” she grinned before heading into the locker room. “I knew we would win the whole time. These girls are amazing and it is so much like a family. Also, I just could not ask for a better coach. Coach Halt has been great.”
Now junior guard and team captain Carson Justice and her mother share a bond, as members of the championship point guard sorority at Richard Winn. She said the game is different now than it was for her mother when Rebekah Coleman won the state championship her senior year at Richard Winn.
“The game is so much more physical now and you have to sacrifice your body more,” Justice said. “We played as a team like we had one heartbeat tonight. God shone through us and granted us our best ability to share our talents tonight. It’s a great feeling and I hope to feel it again next year. We worked hard all year for this. This year we fought the good fight and finished the final race for the prize. We got there together tonight.”
Her sister and teammate Emily Brigman shared that sentiment.
“This (win) is crazy (in a good way). There were doubts coming into the year but we showed how we can play,” sophomore guard Brigman said. “We knew if we could make it this far and we played hard that we had the potential to win it all. We are very thankful to be in the position we are in.”
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