Girls basketball team makes history

The girls basketball team brings home their first state championship

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Hartley Hill

At the sound of the buzzer, the girls basketball team swarms senior captain Nyla Jean on Feb. 27 at FHSAA 7A Girls Basketball State Championship at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland. After losing in the State Finals to Miami High School last year, the girls came back and defeated the Miami Stingarees 52-40 and claimed Plant’s first girls basketball state title.

Kate Caranante, Editor in Chief

When the final buzzer went off in the RP Funding Center on Saturday, Feb. 27, the girls basketball team celebrated a moment that was a long time coming. 

“It was just a fairytale,” coach Carrie Mahon said. “It’s something that, as a coach and as a player, I really dreamed about, just winning that last game. Sometimes it seems so far out of reach…I think even after the final buzzer sounded, I really just couldn’t believe it.” 

After coaching at Plant for 19 years, Mahon was able to bring home her first state title after defeating Miami High School 52-40.  

“Winning that game was not on us,” junior Silvia Farfante said. “That was all coach Mahon. All her coaching, all the time she’s put in, all the time all of our other coaches have put in for us. Teaching us everything, teaching us every play, how to make every basket, it’s really all on them. It wasn’t us at all.” 

After losing to Miami last year in the state championship game, the girls had their chance at revenge when they found out that once again, Miami was the only thing standing in their way of winning it all.  

We watched Miami the night before while they were playing the team we beat last year in the semis, senior Kendal Cheeseman said. “We were saying how we really wanted Miami to win so we could see them again. Every time during the season we were out conditioning or at practice, we would just think, there’s that one team that really hurt us the year before, so to be able to a revenge game was really cool.”  

The game went back and forth until the end of the fourth quarter when the girls basketball team closed out the game on a 14-2 run.  

“This group of players, of course they’re skilled and they work hard, but I think what set it apart this year was they just had an incredible desire to right what went wrong last year when we really just got beaten pretty badly against Miami,” Mahon said. They had this fire all year and they weren’t going to let the game get away from us, they had made it that far and they just wanted to seal it off.” 

The girls were quick to point out the strong tradition and history of the girls basketball team. They made it clear that the ring they won was for all the girls in the past who have spent time getting the program to where it is today.  

“We have a lot of girls who used to play here come back and visit,” Cheeseman said. “It’s really cool that we’ve gotten to meet them. Coach talks about it all the time. In the locker room she was saying that what we’re doing tonight is built off the past 20 years of girls who have come through this program. It wasn’t just us who won states, it was all the girls in the past.”  

While their foundation was set by those who came before them, there were some things that the girls felt played a key role in their success. One of those things was the close bond the team shared.  

“Our team overall was a lot different this year,” Farfante said. “The chemistry was a lot different. We were a lot more connected than last year, and we also got out in the field a lot more than last year. We were there for maybe four months before because we didn’t have camp or anything. I think that really changed our mentality and our mindset being out on the field working out together.”  

With the seniors leaving to go play college basketball, the underclassmen have learned many things from them that they can take into next year.  

“They were our biggest role models,” Farfante said. “Anything the seniors did we always wanted to get better for them, do it for them. In practice they always led us, showed us what to do. They really taught us how to be leaders and I think we can take that forward next year, us being rising seniors we can really use that.”