The Mitchell County girls, shown posing as a team before a practice this week, have lost three times to Randolph-Clay this season, but the Lady Eagles believe the fourth time will be a charm as they look to upset the No. 1 seed Lady Red Devils in today’s Class A state championship game. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
CAMILLA — On the front wall of the Mitchell County gymnasium, an oversized framed photo of the 2003 boys state basketball championship team hangs.
Inside the school cafeteria, there are five more large photos of the boys teams that won state titles in 1990, ‘91, ‘98, ‘99 and 2000 when the school was named Mitchell-Baker High.
Aaliyah Childs is proud of her school’s rich boys basketball tradition. But she wants so badly to have a framed photo hanging of a girls state championship team.
“They’re all around here,” Childs said of the framed state championship photos. “But there isn’t one of a girls team. We’d like there to be one of us.”
In fact, the only mention of Lady Eagles history is a retired jersey of former standout Chiquita Yolanda Wright.
Childs and her Mitchell County teammates will have a chance to make their mark today when they meet nemesis Randolph-Clay in the girls Class A public school state championship game at the Macon Centreplex.
While the boys program has had much success and won six state titles, no girls basketball team in Mitchell County history has won a state championship.
After back-to-back appearances in the state quarterfinals the past two years, Mitchell is glad to move past the Elite 8 round.
“We thought it was a curse on us,” senior Deaundra Hill said. “We’re glad that is over.”
Today is a big day for the Lady Eagles, who will meet Randolph-Clay for the fourth time this season at 3 p.m. Students have the day off to go and support the Lady Eagles as they chase history.
“It’s an Eagle holiday,” Hill said. “Just for the Lady Eagles.”
Mitchell County coach Rosemary Sanders has tried to keep her team grounded as much as possible this week. However, there have been plenty of distractions, such as media attention and fans wanting just a piece of the Lady Eagles’ season.
She is glad today is finally here.
“It’s been crazy,” Sanders said. “But the girls are excited. Everybody has told them they have a chance to make history.”
While Randolph-Clay has been the team to hand Mitchell County three of its six losses this season, Mitchell players know today is their last chance to get the best of Randolph-Clay. The Lady Red Devils have beaten Mitchell by a combined 11 points in three games.
The Lady Eagles have focused on smaller things they believe could give them an edge.
“They’ve outhustled us the first three times we played them,” Hill said. “And we’ve got to make our free throws.”
Childs made reference to the last time the two played in the Region 1-A championship game at Seminole County. Randolph-Clay took a 77-74 overtime victory, but Mitchell could have won the game in regulation had it made its free throws.
The senior is excited about a large crowd of supporters expected in Macon. She expects her team to play well.
“We hadn’t never seen as many people show up (in Savannah last Saturday) like they did,” Childs said. “It feels good. We just need to show them how hard we’ve worked.”