Elba Tigers roar to first Final Four
When the Elba Tigers girls basketball team take the court at the BJCC in Birmingham on Monday morning, it will mark the first time in program history they will play in the AHSAA Final Four.
"We're making our statement," said junior Breanna Sanders. "This is something we've talked about since playing rec ball is putting a banner in the rafters."
The spot for that banner has already been picked out.
Right up there besides the boys banner from 2014," said head coach Shaun Hammonds. "I'd love to get on there."
The Tigers defeated Westminster of Oak Mountain in the Southeast Regional Final this past Monday and are now two wins away from that elusive banner.
"We've been thinking about this since the beginning of the season," said junior Jaylyn Baker. "It really means a lot to us."
Elba has been making history this season.
23 wins, the most in a single season. Plus a berth in the Final Four, a first for the girls team.
I know a lot of people who played here before me, wore the same number I wear, wore these jerseys, and ran on this floor," said Sanders. "They put I a lot of work, but for me to make history it means a lot, but I don't want to be just the first ones to make it to the Final Four. I want to win state.
There's been a long history of basketball at Elba High School, but there's something different about this year's squad.
We started preaching mental toughness and that's been the turning point," said Baker. "That's why we win now."
The Tigers have become mentally tough this season. Coining the phrase "Neck Up".
"We've always been more athletic than a lot of teams we play, but a lot of times we get beat or have collapses, it's mentally," said Hammonds. "I really just focused on getting better mentally."
While you need the physical ability on the basketball court to win, this team understands to be the last team standing in Birmingham, they'll need that mental edge.
We have to walk in with our heads on," said Baker. "We have to be confident in our shots. We have to trust each other. We have to believe that we can win."
Elba plays Spring Garden in the Final Four on Monday at 9:00 a.m.