Despite a hard-fought loss, the Dawson County High School Lady Tigers returned to Dawsonville March 9 with their heads held high, proud of their second-place finish and knowing they gave it their all.
Playing in their first state championship game since 1991, the Lady Tigers came up on the short end of a 77-55 decision to St. Pius X for the Class AAA Championship.
Senior Kenna Seitz described the season as a "Cinderella story that almost came true."
"I'm just really happy to be able to enjoy the moment with these girls. It is a blessing and something that doesn't happen often. It happens once in a blue moon. We made it as far as we could, and I'm really happy," she said.
The Lady Tigers said they were indebted to their legion of loyal fans, who followed the team throughout the season and then made the trek first to Savannah for the Final Four game against Southwest Macon and to Macon for the state championship.
A sea of maroon shirts sporting "we believe" lined the Macon Centreplex to cheer on the Lady Tigers, who finished the season with a 27-6 record and 10-4 in the region.
"I want to thank all the fans and all the students that traveled, God knows how many miles, to come to our games. They traveled a long way to support us and at the end of the game, even though we were losing, they were still standing up cheering," said senior Carly Bearden.
For many of the 2013 Lady Tigers, the state championship runners-up first played together on park and recreation teams as young girls. That history, according to Coach Steve Sweat, is what made them great.
"I think the team chemistry was a big part of it," Sweat said. "Finding a group of girls that can all get along is a big thing, but this year's team was as good as I've ever had. I think they are the closest to the true definition of team that I've had in all 30 years."