The sendoff was the same as always: students, teachers, parents and fans wishing them safe travels and good luck as the mighty Lady Panthers hit the road for the seasons final game.
The time has come for the final road trip these Lady Panthers will take this season and the last game this senior class will suit up as a member of the Pine Grove basketball team.
At the end of the bus ride is the Pavilion at Ole Miss. A high stakes winner take all contest between Pine Grove and Baldwyn is the final chapter in this teams quest to go back to back to back to back.
The Lady Panthers dashed the dreams of previously undefeated West Lowndes on Monday to put itself in this position. Add those Lady Panthers of Lowndes County to a long list of teams that have seen their season end over the last four years.
Pine Grove, under the direction of head coach Katie Bates, is notorious for steely eyed focus in these big games. They’ve won the state title game the last three years by an average margin of 20 points.
On Thursday at 1 pm, the Lady Panthers and the Baldwyn Lady Bearcats square off in the final 1A girls game of the season. The two teams were the preseason #1 and #2 ranked teams and have been poised for this showdown seemingly all year.
Baldwyn got a runaway win over Sacred Heart last week to punch their ticket into the title game. They are led by a pair of senior standouts in I’Yana Ragin and Amarie Anderson, both of which are capable scorers and defenders.
The Lady Panthers now set their gaze and turn all of their attention towards this one last hoorah for this season. A final shot at the ultimate prize.
The more things change, the more they stay the same: a sea of red will be in the stands. Coach Bates and Coach Walker will be on the bench pushing their team towards another title.
And the Lady Panthers? They will take the court one last time this season with a chance to add their name to history.