North Augusta Lady Jackets win state championship

Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 8:44 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2023 at 11:24 PM EST
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NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - The North Augusta girls basketball team won their fifth state championship Thursday night.

They played in their sixth state championship in the last seven years, where they defeated Westwood 42 to 29.

“This is an awesome feeling, and I’m just so proud of our kids. We had a new group that stepped up this year and refused to be defeated, and they came back and got things done,” said Head Coach Al Young.

All season long, the Lady Jackets have been motivated by the successful history of this program.

P’eris Smith said, “This is so big to me. I mean, I worked so hard. We worked so hard, and we came together as a team. Nobody played selfishly. We all just played our game. I’m just proud of everybody. We have a young team. Everybody stepped up, even the young girls.”

One recurring storyline for this team throughout the season has been how young and talented this group is, including Smith.

There are only a handful of seniors on the roster, and it’s impossible to overstate how critical the contributions were. From the younger players who earned significant playing time. Especially when the lights shined the brightest, helping the seniors end their high school careers on top.

Celena Grant said, “Knowing that I’ve been playing with them since second grade. They’ve had me since I was so young. So to really make it happen for them my senior year feels amazing.

There are only three seniors on this year’s team, and they plan to go out on top.

Ansley Gartrell said, “Even though it’s my last game, I’m going to love it because I’ve been doing this for four years with this program, and this program, it’s been like such a blessing to be in because not everybody has this opportunity just to play and then go to state.”

Grant said, “I just want to make sure my seniors have their best senior year. That’s been my goal from the start and to also win state. We’ve lost the past two years. I feel like it’s time to come back and continue the history that the girls in the past started.”

We talked with Young before the game about the opportunity to play in the state championship.

Young: “I think all of our teams are different. Certainly, the personalities and personnel are different, but one of the things about this team that I like is that they are young, and they are hungry, and they come to play every game. I’m so excited about it and I’m looking forward to the game.”

Booth: “How special is this group when it comes to that youth continuing to produce in such big spots?”

Young: “In past years, we’ve had girls who have started early, and it produced a lot of state championships. So I’m hoping and expecting the same thing from this young group of girls. I think they’re talented. I think they work hard. I think their minds are in the right place, and I’m excited about the future.”