GHSA REGION 1-A GIRLS CHAMPIONSHIP: Pelham girls edge Seminole for first crown since 1997

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

DAWSON -- Her voice was cracking, sandwiched between hugs and smiles and more.

That's what this moment looked and felt like to Antonia Tookes, who took over the Pelham girls basketball program this season and then took the Lady Hornets to new heights.

They were flying together on the Terrell County court Saturday night, embracing the moment and refusing to let go. No one wanted to leave the court after this one.

Who could blame them?

Pelham hadn't won a region title since 1997, and this new coach and her girls had just captured the one everyone said they couldn't win.

"This is for Pelham Nation,'' said Tookes, whose team beat Seminole, 60-55, to win the Region 1-A title and send Pelham (22-6) into the state playoffs as a No. 1 seed next week. "This is for our community -- for everyone ...''

Everyone can enjoy it, but few will enjoy it more than D'Ambria Thomas, who simply tossed the Lady Hornets on her back and carried them to the title. The Super 6er was super and more Saturday, scoring 29 points, grabbing seven rebounds and making seven steals. She ran the court like a comet, never slowing down, never looking back.

"She carried us (Saturday) night, and she has carried us all season,'' Tookes said of her senior point guard who has Pelham pointed to a run in the state playoffs.

And why not? The Lady Hornets will be at home for the first two rounds, and no girls team in Southwest Georgia is hotter right now.

"We knew we had to go hard because they are so much bigger than us,'' Thomas said. "But size doesn't matter. It just made us play harder. We wanted this. We haven't won a region title since 1997 and we wanted this real bad.''

Pelham did everything it needed to do and built the lead to 60-50 before Seminole made a furious comeback, scoring five points in 12 seconds to cut the score to the final margin. Seminole's Georgette Benton had a big game, dropping in 20 points and Alexus Watson scored 17 points and pulled down 12 rebounds.

But Pelham had an answer -- and her name was D'Ambria Thomas.

"She was awesome,'' said Pelham's T'Shaunessy Reese, who scored 14 points, while Octavia Kierce scored 13.

The trio ran the court all night. The only question now is how far can Pelham keep running?

"That's a very good team,'' said Seminole coach Jesse McLeod, whose team is 20-7 with three losses to Pelham.

Seminole closed to 45-42 after a Benton putback with 7:00 left in the game, but Reese hit a 3 and then a drive to make it 50-42, and Thomas made two steals, a pair of free throws and two sizzling drives to lift Pelham to a 56-44 lead with 4:30 left.

"We missed some shots in the fourth quarter, and it seemed that just about everything Thomas put up went in,'' McLeod said. "But that's the way it is with great players. And she's a great player.''

Tookes was just soaking in the moment afterward as Pelham stormed the court. Her kids were shouting "P-Town! P-Town! Boom!"

Their coach was quiet, looking for words to define the moment.

"Great, just great. It feels great,'' she said, before pausing and adding: "Wonderful. It feels wonderful.''