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GHSA CLASS A GIRLS ELITE 8: Lady Indians one win from Final Four

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

DONALSONVILLE -- Can you hear that silence in Donalsonville and the surrounding area?

Katrese Brown can.

"We love it,'' said Brown, a sophomore point guard for Seminole's remarkable Lady Indians, who have soared into the GHSA Class A Elite 8 round of the state playoffs at Columbus State, where they meet Calvary Day at 4 p.m. today with a berth in the Final Four on the line.

Brown and her teammates were tired of hearing how Seminole couldn't win, couldn't make a push in the state playoffs and just wasn't the team of yesteryear.

"Everyone was saying we were not that good,'' Brown said Thursday. "A lot of people underestimated our team. They said we weren't going anywhere. Now no one is talking like that. Now everybody is saying, 'Way to go!' Now all you hear are positive things.''

Why not? Few teams ever come together the way this group has. After losing, 60-55, to Pelham in the Region 1-A title game, the Lady Indians just took off through the playoffs and have reached the Elite 8 for the first time in recent memory.

"It's been awhile,'' longtime Seminole coach Jesse McLeod said Thursday. "I don't remember the last time. I'd say it's been more than 10 years. It's been a long time.''

That's another reason this run is so sweet.

"It means a lot,'' McLeod said. "It means everything to this group of girls. They have worked so hard to get here. At the beginning of the year we thought there was a possibility, but it depended on how they grew and matured as a team.''

That's Seminole's secret.

A year ago, Carrie Washington led the Lady Indians to the Sweet 16 round, and many wondered how Seminole would play once its big star left for Columbus State.

Mystery solved.

"These girls have really played well as a team,'' McLeod said. "They have (played) better as a team than any team I've had in the last few years. They don't care who scores the points. They look for the open teammate and share the ball."

Alexus Watson has dominated inside and is averaging 17 points and 12 rebounds a game, and forward Georgette Benton has emerged as a star down the stretch, averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds over the last 10 games. All three guards are averaging double figures. Patrice Barnes (14 points), Meshelay Mobley (10 points) and Brown (10 points).

But more so, they Lady Indians (20-7) have really stepped up in the playoffs, beating Savannah Christian, last year's state runner-up, in the opening round and then beating No. 1 seed Dooly, 65-56, to reach the Elite 8.

"I think we're getting better in the playoffs because we are playing harder teams," Brown said. "It's like the teams are so much better and they push us harder and we have to go faster and harder to beat them.''

Now another classic opponent, Calvary Day (25-5), a No. 2 seed which beat Seminole's region rival Miller County, 67-18, in the opening round of the tournament and then advanced by beating No. 1 seed Charleton County, 71-65. The Lady Cavaliers made it to the Elite 8 last year before falling to Savannah Christian.

But McLeod believes his all-for-one team will be ready.

"They're excited to be here, very excited,'' he said.

And that's what everyone is talking about now.