PA girls basketball team wins state championship

Samantha Lee, Staff Writer

PA’s girls basketball team has been crowned state champions once again.

The girls basketball team, which went 26-1 on the season, won the Class 5 state championship game 53-45 against Lloyd C. Bird High School on Sat March 10 in front of a large crowd of parents, students, and fans at the Siegel Center at VCU. This is their 13th state championship win in school history. 

Coach Darnell Dozier, who has coached the team for 28 years, said the championship didn’t come without difficulties.

“We had a bunch of young kids, like freshmen and mostly juniors on our team. We only had one senior,” said Dozier. “The freshman knew absolutely nothing about high school basketball, so we had to start there. Around January, we started coming together as a team, and from then on it was just either you’re going to get it or you’re not going to get it.” He added, “The kids that wanted to get it, got it. Most of mine did.”

Dozier also mentioned that the atmosphere before and after the game on Saturday was one that he is thrilled about. 

“We probably had more fans this year than we’ve had in the past previous years,“ Dozier explained. “I think it’s because the pandemic got everybody a little closer together. A lot of students were there, and we usually don’t have that, especially all the way up in Richmond.”

“I was feeling really great. I was so glad that we could get there.” Dozier added, “I think to the younger kids, it was such a great feeling that when they walked into the arena, they were looking all around, so I know that none of them had ever played in a venue that big. I think they all enjoyed it.”

He added, “I was caught up in the emotions of it myself, and I know they were.”

Dozier explained that there was growth throughout the season for both the players and the coaches, and that he’s “proud” of how far the team has come since the start of the season.

“I have grown on these kids because they were so young, and I think that they had grown on me,” said Dozier. “It’s not easy to have kids that listen so tentatively at what you say and try to do it, and they all did that. I praise them. I’m really proud of that team. I love those girls.”

Reflecting on the season, Dozier said he believes all his players stood out this year on a team that has dominated the competition once again.

“All my freshmen stood out,” he said. “They just tried so hard to keep up with the other kids, the upperclassmen, but I think they all were really good. “They went a long way from day one to the end of the season.”

Dozier mentioned that even though most of the players “never got the full blast of being a state champion or how to become one” before the game, he said that there were a few major takeaways that would help the team in the long run.

“Now everybody on the team, even the ninth graders, have that experience that’s going to help us a lot in the future,” said Dozier.