Coach Chakaris Thomas’ Hemingway Tigers set a goal of reaching the Class A girls final this season.
The squad made good on that pledge, defeating Whale Branch in the Lower State final this past Saturday.
“My girls called it last year, and I’m glad they set a goal and they made it,” Thomas said.
Hemingway (19-2) has not had a girls basketball title since 1993.
Thomas said playing a tough region — including quarterfinalists Timmonsville and Carvers Bay — helped prepare the Tigers. And though this Saturday’s match with McCormick at Colonial Life Arena will be the biggest game the Tigers have played in decades, Thomas said it will be business as usual in Hemingway.
“We’re going to practice everyday, same time. No longer, no extra, and we’re just going to do what we do on Saturday,” Thomas said.
Not a long wait
Three years into the Whale Branch program’s existence, the Warriors’ boys squad is making its first appearance in the state championship.
Coach Linc Lyles said the Warriors are not surprised how quickly they have ascended.
“The first year, we didn’t have any seniors, and it was very difficult. We had our growing pains,” Lyles said.
“Year Two, we were disappointed we lost in the first round. I could just tell our kids wanted more, and it propelled us in that loss to work together as a team through the summer.”
The Warriors face Lewisville on Saturday.
Lake Marion’s Mike Williams, who spent the fall at wide receiver for the Gators, has enjoyed helping lead the basketball squad to this weekend’s championship game.
“My whole senior year was great,” said Williams, who signed with Clemson for football earlier this month.
With extended football engagements, including the Shrine Bowl and the Offense-Defense Bowl, Williams’ basketball season was shorter — but he is committed to making his last basketball game count for Lake Marion’s first title.
“It took two or three weeks for me to get back in the groove, but I’m ready now,” he said.
Williams averages 10 points and nine rebounds per game for the Gators.