Pelham girls coach Antonia Tookes, right, celebrates with her players after her team captured the Region 1-AA trophy Friday night. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
PELHAM — Unbeaten regular season.
Region 1-AA regular-season championship.
Region 1-AA Tournament Championship.
Class AA state championship?
Check back later.
It was has been a historic run for the Pelham Lady Hornets so far this season, they accomplished their third goal of the season Friday night, dispatching of Early County 74-30 to win the Region 1-AA Tournament and the region’s top seed heading into the state tournament that begins on Feb. 21.
With the victory, the Lady Hornets (24-0) will be at home for at least the first three rounds of the state tourney providing they continue to win.
However, that will have to take a backseat for now — at least for a day.
“This feels great,” said guard Hilary Williams, one of the team’s only three seniors. She finished with nine points but was instrumental in her team getting off to a fast start.
It was the first region title for the Lady Hornets since the 2010-11 season, coach Antonia Tookes’ first at the school. The past two seasons have produced second-place region finishes.
“This has been a long-time coming,” Tookes said. “We’ve been here three times (in Region 1-AA Championship Game) and the third time was the charm. To God be the glory. Without him, none of this is possible.”
Like they have for so much of the season, Pelham dominated early, then coasted to an easy victory over the Lady Bobcats, who earned the region’s No. 2 seed and will also play host to a first-round playoff game next Friday.
Tynicia McCoy led Early with 12 points, while Dorian White and Alexis Panell added five points each.
Pelham showed their eagerness early, sinking a trio of baskets in the first 54 seconds, forcing Early County coach Kimmie Graham to call a timeout and settle her team down.
While Pelham was pleased to get the victory, several players made it clear they don’t want to stop here.
“We’ll think about this — at least for tonight,” said post player Timbreanna Hudson. “It feels good, but this is not what we’re looking for. We’re looking for a state championship.”
The Lady Hornets had a pair of players finish in double-figure scoring. Paced by Destiny Thomas’ 23 points, including 17 in the first half, Pelham is also showing the state they won’t be a one-girl team in the postseason.
Herald Super 6er Briunna Freeman added 17, but it may be unsung heroes like Williams, Hudson, Annie Franklin, McKenzie Smith and a deep bench that leads this team to the proverbial promise-land of high school basketball — the Macon Coliseum.
Nine players scored for the Lady Hornets, who had a chance to get some younger players in the game.
Tookes left the locker room holding the championship trophy. It’s the first step in the direction they want to go.
“I’ve looked at the brackets some, but I’ll do more of that tonight and tomorrow,” she said. “We’ll probably go scout some tomorrow. But this is awesome … a dream come true.”