PELAHATCHIE – The Starkville Academy Lady Volunteers have carried a winning attitude around with them all year.
They relied on that attitude twice this week as they came back in the semifinal game against Jackson Academy, 34-30 in overtime on Friday, and rallied from behind to beat Madison-Ridgeland Academy 47-35 to win the Class AAA Championship.
"Our team never gives up," senior point guard Anna Prestridge said. "We are always going to push, we are always going to play defense and we pick up our game and win when it matters."
Both times the Lady Vols entered the fourth quarter trailing, but they calmly accepted both challenges.
"It's like they know something I don't know," SA head coach Glenn Schmidt said. "Somebody makes a big play and we start grinning. We kind of start saying 'OK we got it now.'"
The players rallied around each other and didn't point fingers at anybody for reasons they were down.
Instead, the Lady Vols encouraged each other and took it upon themselves to right the ship.
"We had a pretty positive attitude," sophomore Sallie Kate Richardson said. "We got down a couple of times, but we encourage each other and try and uplift each other."
Schmidt credits their attitude to the fact that they are happy young girls. She has seen nothing phase them or alter their attitude all year.
"They are the happiest people you have ever met," Schmidt said. "They are so happy. I can chew them out and then 5 minutes later they are just happy. They are happy people and positive people. The seniors have done that for us. They have made us positive. Never say die and never say quit."
For senior April Burney, she has taken what has been taught to her over the years and applied it to the court.
"That was just how we were (taught)," Burney said. "Never quit, never give up and that's just how we play. When we are down, it doesn't matter. We won't look at the scoreboard. We play our game until we have caught up or we are winning."
For sophomore Nora Kathryn Carroll, it has to be disappointing to not score any points in one of the biggest games of the year.
By talking to her, you wouldn't know it. She like the rest of her teammates are unselfish and do not care how the ballgame is won.
It's not all about offense with her, and she knows there are other things she brings to the team that help in winning.
"Even though my offense isn't going good, I know I still have to play defense and rebound because defense and rebounding is the key to winning," Carroll said.
That winning attitude was something that was realized after the end of last season.
Junior Anna Lea Little was asked when she realized how good this team was and she replied with, "At the end of last year."
The goal of being a champion has been realized twice by this team.
"We put in a lot of work," Little said. "We have had the goal of winning a championship all year. We just felt like this was our season. We just wanted to go out there and win the championship."