Class 1A: South Walton Edges Chipley for State Title
Wed. February 20, 2013 at 6:17 p.m. | By Mike Cobb
By MIKE COBB
LAKELAND | For three quarters, Chipley controlled the game in the Class 1A girls state basketball championship game Wednesday afternoon at The Lakeland Center.
The fourth quarter, however, belonged to South Walton, and in the end, so did the state title.
Trailing by six points late in the third quarter, South Walton used an 11-0 run to take control of the game and went on to beat Chipley, 58-49, earning South Walton its first state championship in any sport.
“It gives me chills thinking about it,” Seahawks senior point guard Morgan Kennedy said about winning the school’s first title. “Our school came here, they've been supporting us the entire time. This is for our whole community. Everyone's going to remember us.”
For Seahawks coach Kevin Craig, it was his seventh trip to the FHSAA Final Four and his third state title. He coached Fort Walton Beach to state title in 1994 and 1999. This title, however, has its own special meaning to him.
“For our school to have something to call theirs' we're the state champions,” he said. “I'm just so satisfied, and so happy for Santa Rosa Beach and South Walton High.”
To win it, the Seahawks (24-6) had to beat a Chipley team that beat them earlier in the year, 47-38. That was in a Thanksgiving tournament in November.
This time, said Chiply coach Heather Hingston, it was a different South Walton team.
“The first time, our pressure, after a while they got tired of it,” Hingson said. “Tonight (Wednesday), in the fourth quarter, they weren't tired of it. They pretty much took it to us.”
Chipley led by eight, 37-29, midway through the third quarter, and held a 39-33 lead in the closing seconds of the third quarter before South Walton began its comeback.
Sisters Casey and Mackenzie Perot combined to score eight straight points and Eve Heffron added a three-point play to complete an 11-0 run that put the Seahawks up, 44-39, early in the fourth quarter.
“I think that's where we won the game because that pumped up everyone on the team,” Kennedy said. “It made everyone on the team step up. We executed better after that.”
During the run, the Seahawks were able to get inside and score in the fourth quarter where they had struggled with that in the first three quarters.
“That’s something we talked about as a team,” Casey Perot said. “We just needed to figure out the easiest way to get to the basket.”
The Seahawks eventually built that lead to eight, 51-43, with three minutes to play and were able to make enough free throws down the stretch to hold off the Tigers.
As much as everything started working for the Seahawks, it stopped working for Chipley.
“When we went into the fouth quarter with a lead, we felt like we had to hang on to it because their team wasn't going to stop fighting,” said guard Rakeia Sorey. “We knew they weren't going to give up just because we were up.”
From Hingson’s perspective, it was a matter of giving South Walton an opening.
“We made some key turnovers that gave them a little bit of hope,” Hingson said. “Once they got hope, they started taking it to us.”
Casey Perot finished the game with 13 points, Mackenzie Perot had 12 and Heffron had 10.
Chipley (22-5) was led by Sorey and Jasmine Belser with 14 points each, while Ebony Williams had 10.
CHIPLEY (49): Aaliyah Coleman 2-6 3-4 7, Victoria Lovett 0-2 0-0 0, Jasmine Belser 7-19 0-3 14, Brittany Lee 0-1 0-0 0,, Ebony Williams 5-19 0-0 10, Rakeia Sorey 5-10 0-0 14, Devan Blair 1-4 0-0 2, Braylee Pooser 0-0 0-0 0, Amanda Paschal 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 21-65 3-7 49.
SOUTH WALTON (58): Taylor Menard 3-4 2-5 8, Mackenzie Perot 5-9 2-4 12, Kati Trejo 2-6 2-3 6, Eve Heffron 2-4 6-7 10, Morgan Kennedy 1-3 3-6 5, Katie Logan 1-1 2-4 4, Casey Perot 5-10 3-4 13. Totals 19-37 20-33 58.
Chipley 12 13 14 10 – 49
South Walton 7 16 12 23 – 58
3-point FGs: Chipley 4-10 (Corey 4-7, Lovett 0-1, Belser 0-1, Paschal 0-1); South Walton 0-1 (Menard 0-1). Rebounds: Chipley 38 (Coleman 10), South Walton 32 (Mennard, M. Perot 6). Assists: Chipley 16 (Paschal 6), South Walton 12 (Kennedy 5). Records: Chipley 22-5, South Walton 24-6.