It wasn’t that much of an upset, however, as Div. B No. 3 seed Griffin split with Dutchtown in the regular season with the home team winning both games. Plus, the Lady Bears were led by a core of scrappy seniors — Xandria Hosely, Deineria Phillips and Chelsea Prather — who wanted to finally make state after an 11-year absence.
“We seniors have made it from the bench to the state playoffs,” said Prather, the most talkative of the seniors. “We rode the bench as freshman and we got more and more playing time as we got older. Now the work we put in has paid off and we’re headed to state. Dutchtown hit us hard early, but I was confident we would win.”
Phillips battled injury earlier in the season, but she was effective when she came back to play. Phillips is the most aggressive senior, never meeting a shot she doesn’t like.
“I’m pretty joyful that we beat Dutchtown to make state,” Phillips said. “We broke the long curse that’s been over the girls program.”
Hosely, the quiet senior, said she and the other seniors wanted to clinch state for their long-time assistant coach Mike Willis, who has been with the girls team since the drought began.
“Coach Mike has been saying over and over how long he’s been here without us going to state,” Hosely said. “He is very happy now — he was bouncing around school all day.”
The seniors know their work is not done. Griffin plays Div. B No. 1 seed Jonesboro today at 4 p.m. in the tourney semifinals at Woodland High and if Griffin wins that game, it is guaranteed at least one state-playoff game at The House. If Griffin loses, the Lady Bears will hit the road for state.
“We’re trying to win every game from here on out. It would be sweet to have our first state playoff game at home,” Prather said.