The Hickory Ridge girls basketball team is one win away from a state championship.
The Lady Bulls are a perfect 31-0, and they didn’t make it this far without supreme confidence.
“I knew from the jump that we were going to be undefeated, because the things that we do as a team,” Hickory Ridge sophomore guard Zhania Daniel said. “We’re very connected. We do everything as a family.”
Last year, the Lady Bulls lost as a family in the third round of the playoffs. It was a loss that laid the foundation for this year’s team.
“This year we came in determined to beat everybody and annihilate everybody that we played,” junior forward Gabby Smith said. “So it didn’t really surprise me.”
Coach Tolanda Simmons says the key to their success is unselfishness. Three players average double figures in scoring.
“You know, we don’t have a big 20-point scorer,” coach Simmons said. “These kids share the ball so well, and they play together. We just have a lot of balance and that’s what makes us work.”
Saturday’s opponent Northern Guilford features one of the best players in the state. 6-foot-5-inch Elissa Cunane is an NC State commit, but the Lady Bulls aren’t intimidated.
“As soon as I step on the court, not matter who is on the court, like LeBron James could be there, I’ll still play hard no matter what,” junior forward Sherise Jones said.
Hickory Ridge High School opened in 2007, so it’s relatively young. If the Lady Bulls can complete their undefeated season on Saturday it’ll be the school’s first ever team state championship in any sport.
“It’s great knowing that I’m a part of making history,” junior guard Jiera Shears said. “The school has never gotten this far, and knowing that we’re the first team to do it is amazing.”
“We came in. We talked about it. We set goals,” Coach Simmons said. “Here we are, right here, just ready to reach out and grab this last one.”