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Path to victory remembered

BY BRUCE BRANUM

The Greenville Standard

 

What makes a state championship high school team? Many would offer the opinion the team must be filled with great players gifted with extraordinary physical talents and skill.

Others add you must have luck in addition.

Sometimes you have a composite of good talent, skill, fellowship, and willful motivation with a bit of luck, the true all-stars.

Now that the initial fanfare from Georgiana School varsity boys’ basketball team winning the school’s first ever state championship in any sport has waned some, a time for insightful reflection has begun.

Head coach Kirk Norris recently had the opportunity to recount some game highlights and reflect on the characteristics which led this team to the AHSAA Class 1A Boys State Championship.

As a head coach for 19 years, 17 of those at Georgiana, Norris has seen a lot of players and how they play a part of the development of a team’s attitude.

“The demeanor of this team was special,” said Norris, “Most have been playing basketball together since the sixth grade. That was the first time they told me they were going to win me a state championship.”

Norris noted that during junior high school, the team had decent season records. It wasn’t until their freshmen and sophomore years that the team began to jell.

Four years of the skills and fellowship developed at summer basketball camps was being realized.

The Panthers were knocked out of the region playoffs in 2021 and 2022, falling to Pleasant Home and Red Level, but they came roaring in 2023 and earned a state championship.

Norris noted two come back games were the key to propel this team to the final this year. The first was a close loss to 7A Dothan and then a come from behind win against 1A Red Level.

“The players had each other’s back. If a teammate was having an off game, everyone else stepped up their game. That’s a championship team,” said Norris.

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