‘IT’S MORE THAN JUST BASKETBALL TO US’: Good Hope downs T.R. Miller 63-35 to capture 1st state championship

The Good Hope Lady Raiders defeated T.R. Miller 63-35 Friday night to win their first state championship in school history. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Friday was a historic and emotional day at Legacy Arena for the Good Hope Lady Raiders. After coming up short of their goals the last few seasons, the senior-led Lady Raiders broke through in a big way Friday night, defeating T.R. Miller 63-35 to cap a stellar season with the first state title in school history. Good Hope trailed T.R. Miller early in the second quarter and even though they’re not used to falling behind early, the twin backcourt of Bailey and Heather Tetro knew once they settled into the game they’d be in good shape.

“I think we started out with a little bit of nerves; I know I did,” Bailey said. “We’re used to having fast starts and being on top by the end of the first quarter, so I think we just needed to settle down and get into our groove and I think we did that. I think our defense is really what got us going.”

“Even when we get down, we have so much trust in each other when we go out there and play,” Heather said. “We got down a little bit and it shocked us at first because like (Bailey) said, we’re used to having quick starts, but we trust each other and once we get going, there’s no looking back for us.”

Good Hope head Coach Justin Aby shared the Tetros’ confidence, knowing his team has put in the work to get to this point and would do what they needed to do to take control of the momentum and earn the win.

“It’s a special group. It really is. This is year number five for me in coaching and some of them have been starting since their eighth-grade year and to see all the hard work and everything they’ve done, it’s really special to see them get that blue map. I don’t even know what I’m going to do next year,” Aby joked. “I don’t know how I’m going to break the press without having two Tetros running around out there getting open and Ivey doing everything she does and Charly, Emma and Lillie. They’re a great, great group of girls who just totally bought in from day one.”

Good Hope 63 – T.R. Miller 35 (4A State Championship Game)

Bailey Tetro sank a pair of free throws and turned a steal into an easy basket to give the Lady Raiders a 4-0 start. Another Bailey Tetro basket made it 6-0 early in the opening period and Charly Johnson split a pair of free throws to keep Good Hope ahead 7-2. Bailey Tetro’s next bucket made it a 9-5 game later in the first, but T.R. Miller was able to tie things up at 9 by the start of the second.

The Lady Tigers pulled ahead 15-9 early in the second quarter but after Johnson hit another free throw, Maddox scored a tough basket inside to cut the lead to 15-12. Bailey Tetro hit two more free throws and Maddox buried a three to put the Lady Raiders back in front 17-16 with three minutes remaining in the period. Ava McSwain laid one in, and Bailey Tetro converted an and-one play to stretch Good Hope’s lead to 22-17. Bailey took another steal the other way for two more points and Maddox drilled another three with just over a minute on the clock to give the Lady Raiders a 27-19 lead at halftime.

Another Maddox score put Good Hope on top 29-21 at the start of the third and a pair of McSwain baskets made it 33-21. Maddox drained a three and Johnson scored inside in to give the Lady Raiders a 38-23 advantage and they continued adding to their lead as the third quarter went on. Johnson laid one in just before the buzzer to make it a 48-25 game with just one quarter remaining.

Lillie McCluskey knocked down a three and Johnson and Bailey Tetro each drove and scored to put Good Hope in front 55-29. Maddox finished an and-one play to make it a 58-32 game and the Lady Raiders cruised the rest of the way to put the finishing touches on a 63-35 state championship win.

Maddox led Good Hope with 20 points in the win. Bailey Tetro finished with 17 and McSwain added 12. Bailey Tetro, Maddox and McSwain earned All-State Tournament honors and Tetro was selected as Tournament MVP.

For seniors Heather Tetro and Ivey Maddox, the moment is made even more special by the fact they reached their ultimate goal with the teammates they’ve grown up playing with for years.

“There are so many emotions going on right now for me at least. This is my last game, but I wouldn’t want to end it any other way, it’s amazing to win this group of girls,” Heather said. “I’ve been playing with these girls for a long time so to have a game like this and to be able to come out on top is so special and it’s definitely a moment I will remember the rest of my life.”

“It’s more than just basketball to us. For so long we’ve been playing together, since travel ball and everything,” Maddox said. “There have been so many times that we were counted out or overlooked and now that it’s our time it’s just even more special.”

Senior Bailey Tetro was honored to be named Tournament MVP but wishes she could share it with her teammates and the community that came to support them.

“It is an honor but there are so many girls on this team that deserve it, honestly, I think more than I do. I’m just so proud of everyone, I could not win it without these girls and it’s a blessing just to be here right now. I think the MVP of this game would have to be our community,” Bailey said. “It’s been four years that people have expected us to go so far and it’s ended early. I remember last year I was so upset after the Sweet 16 because I thought, ‘Man, they’re going to give up on us’ and they did not give up on us. They believed in us even harder this year.”

“That’s just a prime example of the unselfishness we have on our team,” Aby said. “You address the girl that won the MVP and then she gives it to her teammates and her community. It’s a special, special group of girls and that’s just one example of who they are, not as basketball players but as people.”

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