CRESTVIEW — Shoal River Middle School's girls basketball team defeated the Lewis Middle School 41-38 to claim the county championship on Feb. 11.
Capitalizing on Mustang turnovers, Lewis jumped out to an early lead, and closed the first period with a 10-3 run. Shoal River made a strong run to end the second quarter with a halftime score of 19-16 in favor of the Mustangs.
The scoring was even during the second half, with both teams scoring 22 points. Shoal River, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, closed out the victory with several key baskets down the stretch, upsetting the No. 1 seed Falcons.
“I thought the difference in the last two games was the little things we worked on every day," Mustang Coach Ryan Gillis said. "The ball handling, passing, rebounding and shooting drills certainly paid off. It was rewarding to see these girls mature as basketball players.
"They pulled for each other on and off of the court. They made big shots, got key rebounds, and came up with one defensive stop after another. The entire season was a team effort from the long practices to the late night games.
"It’s been a real pleasure to coach each one these young ladies, and I wish them well in their future endeavors.”
The Lady Mustangs advanced to the finals with a 25-8 win over St. Mary in the first round of he playoffs and a 37-35 victory against Bruner in the second round.
Amiah Banks and Aliyiah Brown were named all-conference.
Championship team members are Kashira Casey, Aliyiah Brown, Ayajah Coleman, Gracie Gillis, Amiah Banks, Dominique Boyer, Damia McLane and Valerie Rodriguez.