Anne Long admits she can be pretty demanding as a coach.
This season, her Spring Valley Vikings met all of her demands, and it resulted in a second straight Class 4A girls championship.
Long was honored for team’s effort by being named The State’s Coach of the Year.
“This team was dedicated, fun to work with. For a coach that is pretty demanding, I was pleased with the sacrifices they made to make us successful,” Long said. “The philosophy and what we require of them day in and day out, they did that. We pretty much didn’t have any drama this year. You get a group of teenage girls together, you have drama, but this team didn’t have that.”
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A reason for the lack of drama on Spring Valley was because of seven seniors, and many helped in winning the state championship.
The veteran group also embraced the expectations of being a preseason No. 1 and having to take the team’s best shot each night.
Outside of a season-opening loss against Sumter and loss to Ridge View during region play, Spring Valley was up to the task on a daily basis. Long said the 50-41 loss to the Blazers on Jan. 14 served as a catalyst for the championship.
“It was a wake-up call, more than the line drills and tough practices,” Long said of the loss to Ridge View. “Nothing like a good, old-fashioned butt-kicking, if you will, to be able to bounce back. This group was more dedicated. They didn’t let the pressure get to them. They made the sacrifices. Some of the details we require, the day in and day out. Teenagers these days don’t really like details.”
Long tied Monetta’s George Sawyer with her eighth state championship, and fourth at Spring Valley. She also won four titles at Union County High.
Long can break that mark next year, and will likely become the state’s all-time leader in victories. The Winthrop grad is 17 wins from breaking Manning coach John Thames’ mark of 869 victories.
It was the first time in school history Spring Valley won back-to-back state titles in girls basketball, and third time Long has done it during her coaching career.
“It is a tremendous honor for our athletes compete for a state championship and to win one and win back to back,” Long said. “It is a tough feat and challenge. We want them to enjoy that moment. Being able to walk down the halls of Spring Valley High School, knowing we represented the school very well and we took it to the limit.”