FALKVILLE — Gathered on the court chatting with friends and family, the members of Falkville High's girls basketball team turned and watched with intrigue as school officials brought a ladder on the court.
The sight even prompted one person to ask, "What's that for?"
Pardon the confusion. It's been a while since a Falkville girls basketball team has celebrated a championship by cutting down the net.
Well, it may have taken 26 years, but the nets in Falkville's gymnasium came down again.
Falkville earned its right to celebrate Saturday afternoon, holding off Decatur Heritage 45-38 to win the Class 1A, Area 14 title — its first area crown in 26 years.
As the Area 14 champion, Falkville (19-4) hosts Marion County on Thursday in the Class 1A sub-regional round of the postseason, while Decatur Heritage (20-9) travels to Lynn.
"That's the happiest I've ever seen the girls," Falkville coach Jeff Andrews said. "We had a great atmosphere. The fans were into it. Everything about today was great. Watching those girls cut the net down, that was a special thing."
Just how long has it been since Falkville won a girls area basketball title? No one on the current roster had been born in 1987 when former star Christy Ferguson and the Blue Devils accomplished the feat — a fact not lost on the current players.
"Getting to celebrate this, it felt good. Really, really good," Falkville guard Sydney Moore said. "All of us, we've worked so hard this year, really put all of our hearts into turning this thing around. Being able to do something that hasn't happened here in so long, there's just so much satisfaction in accomplishing that goal."
Falkville's championship moment didn't come easy. Every time the Blue Devils appeared to have momentum on their side, Decatur Heritage rallied back. Falkville carried an eight-point cushion into the fourth quarter, but two 3-pointers from Peyton Barthel pulled Decatur Heritage within three with less than two minutes remaining.
Barthel finished with 14 points, while Bekah Voss added 10.
Autumn Eddy finished strong for Falkville, scoring 11 of her team-high 15 points in the second half. She made a layup with about 30 seconds remaining to extend Falkville's lead to five.
Moore finished with 12 points for Falkville, while Emily Mickelson had six points and 13 rebounds.
"What happened here today goes back to commitment that's been put into our program," Andrews said. "The players were committed to turning things around. The parents were committed. Everyone was committed.
"This group worked hard for this, and for me personally, there's not a better feeling than watching them enjoy this."
Contact Justin Graves at 256-340-2460 or by email at email@example.com.
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