LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - “It’s kind of overwhelming,” Alona Gray said on winning the state championship. "With all the love we’re getting from the community it’s like ‘Dang, we really did this.’
History was made and a dream fulfilled in Burton Coliseum Saturday. The top-seeded LaGrange Lady Gators used suffocating defense to lock down Warren Easton as they captured their first state championship in program history.
Although this group of girls will always be remembered as the team that reached the pinnacle of high school hoops, the win was also about the Lady Gators the past and the future.
“We did something not just for ourselves but for the people to come after us and the people before us like the alumni,” Gray added. “What they didn’t get to do we finally did it.”
“It’s just amazing going around the community and hearing, ‘Oh I graduated from LaGrange in such-and-such year, thank you.’ No, thank you. You paved the way we just fulfilled the dream," Lady Gator head coach LaKeem Holmes said.
The Lady Gators were led for most of the way by junior stars Jeriah Warren and Aasia Sam, but it was one of the seven seniors who was a hero during the state tournament. Forward Alona Gray put together two of her best performances of the season, averaging 14 points and 9 boards while shooting 53 percent from the field.
“It was great seeing her confidence grow," Holmes said of Gray. "She came and we had to pull her in the first minute of the semifinal game because before the game she was so emotional. We subbed her in and I don’t think she came back out until the end and she was able to take that much energy to guard that guard who was very quick and then also give us what we need on offense. It was great.”
Gray is part of a senior group that LaKeem Holmes has coached since they were in the sixth grade and he considers them to be like daughters. He's proud not only to have seen them mature but also be able to end their high school careers on top.
“When you see someone grow from the ninth grade to the twelfth grade it’s a big growth but when you see someone grow from sixth to twelfth you go through their nerdy years when they used to wear goggles and have braces and you see them now and they say, ‘Coach I have to get my eyelashes ready’ I sit back in awe of them as they become adults," Holmes said of his senior class.