PONCE DE LEON, Fla. (WMBB) – The Ponce De Leon girls’ basketball team brought home a second consecutive 1A state title last week, but not many expected them to make it that far.
Following the 2020-2021 season where the Lady Pirates finished 20-2 and dominated 1A competition, this year’s team has a huge reputation to live up to.
“We had a lot of motivation because we weren’t supposed to win it this year,” senior guard Cadence Alford said. “Losing six seniors, everyone thought we’d be down, it was an off-year, and we really took it personally, the girls that did come back, that we were going to prove a point, yes last years team, we needed them, every one of them, we needed them to win it last year, but we needed to step up into a bigger roll to show everybody that we can win it this year.”
But the Lady Pirates did just that, winning the state title 39-38 over top-ranked Wildwood, a match where they were far from the favorites.
“We were underdogs from the very beginning,” senior forward Lindy Motley said. “Everybody doubted us, and it was the craziest experience to prove everybody wrong.”
Alford said that when they completed the upset, she had too many emotions to describe.
“When the final buzzer sounded,” Alford said. “I saw the shot go up and I saw the light, light up around the basket, I was like oh my gosh, we just won.”
The Lady Pirates returned home to Holmes County with a big welcome from the community, and as this was the fifth state title in the girls’ basketball programs history, many former state champions came to celebrate.
“It’s amazing to know that anytime we walk into this gym, no matter where we are in life, we’ll always be back-to-back state champs,” Alford said. “And my mom is up on the wall, and it’s just amazing to have both my name and her name up on the wall.”
Motley’s mother also played on a former Ponce De Leon state title-winning team and she said being able to have that shared experience is priceless.
“It’s a crazy thing to think about because even my mom’s name is up on that wall and it’s just crazy that my name is going to be up there twice,” Motley said. And in middle school I remember doing dribbling drills up and down the court and having to read those names, having to make sure that my eyes were up, and it’s just awesome to know that our names are going to be up there too.”
The Lady Pirates finished the 2021-2022 season at 23-3 and as Class 1A State Champions.
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