Girls basketball advances to elite eight


Ellie Palaian

Alexia Davis, Cate Barton, and Devon Bockman sits on the bench, waiting to contribute to the game.

Archer Streelman

The girls basketball team advanced to the state quarterfinals, its farthest playoff run since a 1986 final four finish. The team ended with an overall record of 22-9, and region record of 11-5.

In his first year as head coach, Martravious Little has led the team to the best record in years. Coming from playing and coaching collegiate basketball at Morehouse College, Little was very impressed with the girl’s success this season.

“Midtown hasn’t had a 20-win season, let alone the ability to play for championships in girls basketball in a very long time (over 20+ years), and these girls broke both of those barriers this year,” Little said. “Now that they understand how to get there, I expect them to walk away with some championships, and an even better record next year.”

Little believes the humility of the team led to a deep playoff run and placing second in Region 5AAAAA. However, the Knights fell to Warner Robins, 63-73, ending the season in the third round of the state playoffs. Warner Robins made it to the championship, but lost to Kell, 37-57. 

“Our key to making it as far as we did, was staying humble, and being true to who we were,” Little said. “I continued to repeat, let’s do what has gotten us this far. Know your role and be great at doing just that.” 

Despite the winning season, the coaches will continue to push the players to be stronger and tougher during the close games. 

“[We still need to work on] our toughness and gaining more grit,” Little said. “A lot of the games we lost came down to not being as tough on plays down the stretch that we needed. Like fifty/fifty balls, rebounds and defensive pressure. So, we are definitely going to be harping on being a tougher and grittier team in the off-season.”

Region 5-AAAAA changes resulted in teams like New Manchester and North Springs to leave the region, adding teams like Banneker, Creekside, Tri-Cities, and Mays to create new competition.

“One of the best teams for our region last year moved out, but there were a lot of good and competitive teams that moved in, like Bannaker and Tri-Cities,” sophomore co-captain guard Sinclair Richman said. “Our region got bigger, which meant there was more competition for playoffs. Any team could come out and do well at any given point, and in a long region tournament, seeding plays a big role.” 

With only three juniors, and no seniors, the team is overwhelmingly made up of underclassmen, with four sophomores and nine freshmen. This year, everyone had to step up.

“Because there are no seniors to help the younger girls, everyone who has returned has had to be a leader to make sure the team runs smoothly and to make sure everyone feels comfortable,” Richman said. “Our coaching staff has also helped identify who the leaders are on the team, and who the team should be looking up to.” 

A positive to having no seniors this year is that no players will be lost to graduation.

“It is phenomenal [graduating no seniors],” Little said. “Everybody is returning; they know me, they know what’s expected out of them; they know how practices are expected to be. I don’t have to go in and reteach. Now we can just focus on getting better.” 

Little reflects on his first year at Midtown, and hopes to continue growing with the team. 

“My favorite part of coaching is actually off the court,” Little said. “It’s the bond and relationship that I had the opportunity to build with my girls. I watched them go from just playing to having fun, to playing with confidence in their actual athletic abilities. I loved watching their growth all year, and that’s all you can ask for as a coach.”

Sophomore guard Cate Barton says the team’s success comes from the work ethic and the team’s endurance.

“We run a lot at practice, and it is one of the reasons why we did so well and made it so far this season,” Barton said. “When other teams are burnt out, we are still running and bringing energy to the game.”

With a shot clock instituted this season to keep games running and reduce the time a team can waste in the fourth quarter, the Midtown team was able to capitalize. Each team is given 35 seconds to score, compared to unlimited time they were given years prior. 

“I think the shot clocks really benefited the way we played because one of our strengths was shutting people down on defense,” Barton said. “We did this by pressing the whole court so the shot clock would start there. This would lead to turnovers. Offensively we like to play fast so overall it worked in our favor.”

This season, Richman led the team in individual points, and scored a season high of 36 points against Chapel Hill earlier this season. She also scored the buzzer beater winner against Washington. 

“I started playing AAU this year and that competitiveness has really helped me grow,” Richman said. “I worked on my shooting a lot, and once I got into the swing of things my confidence grew.” 

Next year, Little plans to continue the upward momentum, and to surpass expectations yet again. 

“My plan for next season is to take the foundation we have built this year and continue to grow our dynasty,” Little said. “I plan to add some key pieces to our varsity team, and grow from here.”