By Molly Seales
Saturday, January 23rd, was an important day for the 5th and 6th grade Lady Rebels. It was a day that many of them had waited on since this time last year, when they came up just short of the championship title. They travelled to Franklin Academy in Winnsboro with one thing on their minds-the big trophy.
The Lady Rebels played in the semifinals against Tensas and defeated the Chiefs with a score of 19-12. Kaleigh Pickett was high scorer with 8 points. She also had 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 6 deflections. Ally Kate Hillman was high rebounder having 8 boards. Hillman also had 2 points, 3 steals, and 1 deflection. Madelyn Chamberlin scored 3 points, had 6 boards, 1 assist, 4 steals, and 5 deflections. Krista Mancil had 2 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 deflections. Lexi Mancil had 2 points, 3 boards, 2 steals, and 2 deflections. Alissa Curry rounded out the scoring with 2 points. She pulled down 5 boards, had 1 steal, and 2 deflections. Maddie Baxley had 1 board and 1 deflection while Abbie Jowers pulled down 2 boards. 5th grader Lily McCoy was unable to play Saturday due to illness, but she was an important part of the team this year.
The semifinal victory put them up against #1 ranked Briarfield Academy. Point guard Kaleigh Pickett is only a 5thgrader, but she played with the poise and confidence of a senior, taking control of the floor and making things happen on the offensive end for her team. From that point on, the Lady Rebels settled in and played their kind of ball, which led them to the victory. When the final buzzer sounded, the score was 16-14, and the Little Lady Rebels were champions. Kaleigh told me, “I left it all out on the court because I wanted that first place trophy.” Kaleigh was high scorer and rebounder in the championship game having 10 points and pulling down 6 boards. Pickett also had 1 steal and 4 deflections. Krista Mancil had 2 points, 2 boards, 1 steal, and 2 deflections. Lexi Mancil had 2 points, 3 boards, 1 steal, and 3 deflections. Madelyn Chamberlin had 3 rebounds, 3 steals, and 6 deflections. Ally Kate Hillman had 4 rebounds, and 3 deflections. Alissa Curry had 4 boards, 2 steals, and 1 deflection. #5 on the opposing team rounded out the scoring putting 2 points on the board, which was the difference in the game.
It was a priceless moment for head coach Cody Hillman, and his daughter, Ally Kate, a 6th grader on the team. Several weeks ago, Ally Kate suffered a knee injury in practice, and it was uncertain until after her MRI if she would even get to finish out the season. After the MRI results came back and she got the okay from her doctor, Ally Kate was back out there fighting for what she wanted – the championship trophy. Coach Cody said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships. That saying is perfect to describe this Little Lady Rebels team. We do have some very good players, but it was the teamwork that led to a 9-3 season, ending with bringing the championship trophy home to Riverdale Academy. Every single girl on this team contributed something that led to this amazing season, and I wouldn’t trade any of those girls for anything. My coaching philosophy is to drive home the fundamentals and to play smart. The girls bought in and worked hard to do just that, and it paid off for them. One of the amazing things about Riverdale is that it is truly a family. When the buzzer went off to end the last quarter not one single girl celebrated that victory as an individual. They ran off that court crying happy tears and we had one huge team hug. It was such a special moment.”
For Ally Kate, it was a moment she will never forget. She said, “It was such an amazing year. We cried together, we laughed together, and we fought together. All of the girls on this team are my friends, and we will remember this forever. It made it even more special since my dad was the coach, and I got to win a championship with him.”
One thing is for sure-the future of Lady Rebel basketball looks very bright! Congratulations! We are all so proud of you!