There was no champagne to celebrate the Amber-Pocasset girls basketball team’s Grady County Tournament championship win over the Minco Lady Bulldogs on Saturday night, but there was V8.
V8 for eight-straight. After the game, some of the Am-Po parents had cans of V8 juice ready for the team as a symbol for the streak, a gesture of confidence in the result.
“I think we planned that last year,” Am-Po senior Dontasia McAfee said after the game.
The Lady Panthers won their eighth-consecutive Grady County Tournament with a 43-33 win in the final, and in the 95-year history of the tournament, no other team has won more than five times in a row. The owner of that streak? The Am-Po Lady Panthers from 1976-1980.
The lack of parity in the tournament might be getting old for all the other teams in Grady County, but not for the Panthers, who haven’t failed to make it to a championship game since 2002.
The last team to win the girls bracket at the Grady County Tournament besides Amber-Pocasset was Rush Springs, which beat Am-Po in the finals in 2004 and 2005.
With the home crowd, led by a rowdy student section, behind them in Saturday night’s game, the Lady Bulldogs jumped out to a 7-2 lead early in the first quarter. Sydni Hutchinson scored seven points in the first quarter.
“The first thing I thought was ‘We’ve got to stop the Hutchinson girl,’” Am-Po head coach Kirk Reimers said. “She was rolling. I don’t think she missed her first three or four shots. So we tried to make a defensive adjustment.”
Amber-Pocasset was able to withstand the initial Minco attack, and led 15-9 after the first quarter, which concluded with a 3-pointer by Faith Mays at the buzzer.
The Lady Panthers led by 10 points at halftime, and maintained a double-digit lead for the remainder of the game. Minco never let things get out of control, but couldn’t close the gap, either.
Hutchinson was the leading scorer in the game, scoring 16 points in a losing effort. She was the only Minco player in double figures.
McAfee led Am-Po with 12 points, and junior Maggie Treadaway scored 10 points. Junior Darcie Winn scored eight.
Amber-Pocasset is ranked No. 15 in class 2A, with a record of 17-3 with two regular season games remaining. The Lady Panthers will play at Rush Springs at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Minco comes out of the Grady County Tournament 12-6, and will play Alex on the road at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Pick up Tuesday's Express-Star for more coverage from the Grady County Tournament.