The A.C. Flora Falcons’ improbable run through the Class 3A postseason wrapped on Saturday with the Falcons falling 5-1 against defending champion Hilton Head.
Hilton Head notched its sixth consecutive state title, but Falcons coach Amy Martin said finishing as state runner-up was more than a dream-come-true for Flora.
“The pressure was all on them because we didn’t think we’d be this far,” said Martin, in her first season with the Falcons. “That’s been the awesome part. All the playoff wins, each win got sweeter and sweeter.”
In the final, Hilton Head jumped to early leads on all six courts, but Flora’s No. 2 doubles team of Regan Tapp and Esme Bajo quickly turned it to wrest a 6-3, 6-2 win against Sarah Wood and Nicole Diaz to avoid a shutout.
Hilton Head dominated at No. 1 singles, with Brooke Busby outlasting Falcons’ seventh-grader Shelby Prince for a 6-0, 6-1 win.
With the No. 2 and No. 5 singles matches still on the court, Hilton Head had a 3-1 match lead, but the Falcons were looking to make a comeback.
Makayla Chandler, the team’s only senior, helped lead the perseverant Falcons.
“I told my whole team, like I tell myself, just never give up until you shake a person’s hand,” Chandler said.
After dropping her first set at No. 2 singles, 6-3, Chandler rallied to a 4-3 second-set lead. But Chandler was unable to force a tiebreak set. On the No. 5 court, Ginny Walker succumbed to Emma Stanton in a third set to close the match.
“We really grew together and supported each other tremendously this season,” Chandler said. “With a young team, at the beginning of the season, I thought we had a chance at making the playoffs. I would have never imagined we’d be playing in the state championship.”
Chandler is the only starter the Falcons will lose from this season, and next year, Martin said, they might expect even more.
Singles: Brooke Busby (H) d. Shelby Prince, 6-0, 6-1; Jennifer Oliver (H) d. Makayla Chandler, 6-3, 6-4; Logan Danzell (H) d. Emily Sandlin, 6-1, 6-3; Kate Cram (H) d. Maia Blackmon, 6-2, 6-1; Emma Stanton (H) d. Ginny Walker, 3-6, 7-6, 7-5 (10-3). Doubles: Regan Tapp/Esme Bajo (A) d. Sarah Wood/Nicole Diaz, 6-3, 6-2.