The county’s two defending state girls basketball champions will accomplish two goals when they meet Thursday, Nov. 12, in a preseason showdown.
Class AAAA state champion Southwest DeKalb will face AAAAA state champion Redan in a benefit game to help both teams pay for their 2009 championship rings. It’s also a way for both teams to play top competition without leaving the county.
Neither the county nor the Georgia High School Association is responsible for purchasing rings for state champions in any sport. The GHSA presents team trophies and individual medals to state champions.
The game was the idea of Southwest coach Kathy Walton and former Redan coach Rhonda Malone. Walton, who has led Southwest to two straight state titles, said her team still owes $1,000 on the 2008 rings and the 2009 rings have not been purchased. The bill for the 2008 rings was $6,500 for 30 rings. Five players still do not have rings, Walton said.
Tickets to the game are $5 in advance and $8 at the door. Game time is 6:30 p.m. A junior varsity scrimmage will be held at 5 p.m. The event also features the step teams from both schools performing before the varsity game. Also, both drum lines will perform at halftime.
All proceeds will be split between the schools and used only to buy the rings, Walton said. The fund-raider also is a way to take pressure off the booster clubs.
“We have a very active booster club,” Walton said. “But we traveled to three tournaments last year and spent $5,000 on those trips. The booster club can only raise so much money.”
The trips, though expensive, helped the Panthers face tough competition from teams around the South. That experience paid off during the state tournament last season, Walton said. The Panthers traveled to tournaments in Oak Ridge, Tenn., Spartanburg, S.C., and Madison County, Ga. They also played a single game in Statesboro.
“The main reason we went was to be better prepared when the tournament came around,” she said. “It was a great experience for us.”
Both teams should benefit in the long run from the exhibition. Redan lost only two players to graduation, and neither were starters. Southwest returns most of its roster as well, but lost three starters.
Kayla Lewis is the top returning player for the Panthers. She led the team in 2008 with 16 points and eight rebounds.
“This will be some of the best girls basketball played anywhere in the country, with two defending state champions,” Walton said. “It should be a great game. We both like to get up and down the floor, but I just don’t know if we can keep up with them.”
New Redan coach Jerry Jackson sees the game as a great opportunity for his program as well.
“It’s a way for us to get some great competition before the season,” Jackson said. “It will help us financially, too.”