Gil Pound: Pound for History made

Mar. 12—"Not again," I exhaustedly said to myself while photographing the GHSA Class 4A girls basketball state championship game between Baldwin and Hardaway Wednesday.

So many brushes with history had ended in heartbreak for the Bravettes. After three-peating in the late '80s, there was a trip to the Final Four in '99 where the team was stopped short. Then the heartbreak of all heartbreaks the following year when Baldwin basketball legend Tasha Butts and company fell in the finals.

The close calls continued into the new millennium with another semifinal berth in '02 and again in '09. Maybe the current crop of Bravettes knew all that history when they themselves made a run in 2022, but fell to Luella in the Final Four. Perhaps some doubt still remained when Griffin pulled off a late comeback in the finals last year.

Things were heading in a similar direction during last week's championship matchup against Hardaway.

Those first two quarters Wednesday were an ugly affair with neither team at its best as they shot 20 and 21% from the field while combining for just 24 points by halftime. The Macon Coliseum, site of the GHSA hoops championships, isn't a gymnasium nor is it a basketball arena. It is a venue with a temporary court and temporary goals installed to host an event. Year after year teams have to combat depth perception issues while trying to make shots in the biggest game of their lives. But that's a whole 'nother column.

The Bravettes' resilience shined on Georgia high school basketball's biggest stage. They put their own spin on the words "not again," saying it not with dread, but determination even while facing a 27-11 deficit with 5:20 to go in the third. The "not again" attitude was perfectly illustrated by senior guard Madison Ruff's and-one take to the basket just before the third quarter buzzer sounded. The red-clad Baldwin faithful, of which there were many inside the Coliseum that evening, exploded in cheers as their team narrowed the margin to four points.

Thirteen minutes and 20 seconds of game time after being down 16 points, the Bravettes were crowned state champs in a 47-39 final score. That's a 36-12 run for the ages as the Baldwin girls basketball team put all that history behind them and made some of their own. After witnessing the close calls the last two years, I'm glad I got to see one go the other way.

Now I only have one question for a team that will welcome back two of the best players in the state.