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the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

The Georgia Student Finance Commission collaborated with 49 Georgia colleges to waive application fees in March. This removed barriers for Midtown students who were previously unable to apply to certain colleges.
Georgia Colleges waive application fees, remove barriers
Brennan FrittsApril 15, 2024

The Georgia Student Finance Commission partnered with nearly 50 colleges throughout Georgia to waive their application fees during March. Midtown...

1986 Grady girls basketball team reminisce Final Four playoff run

The+2024+Knights+are+the+first+Midtown+team+to+reach+the+Final+Four+since+1986.+
Sue Bath-The Southerner 1986
The 2024 Knights are the first Midtown team to reach the Final Four since 1986.

In 1986, the Grady Girls Basketball team defeated Pickens County 52-50 in the Elite 8 to reach the programs first ever Final Four. Former head coach Douglas Slade recalled their historic run and said that it had all started with a defeat in the previous year’s Elite Eight.

“[The 1986 team] was gritty, strong-willed and they had a love for the game,” Slade said. “It had all started the previous year when we made it to the Elite Eight and came runners-up in the region. And so the following year we came in with the mindset that we were going to try to win the whole state championship.”

The 1986 team held a 24-4 record and were the first city school in 3 years to reach the Final Four. Co-captain of the team, Etherline Douglas, believes the players’ chemistry on and off the court was the driving factor for the team’s accomplishments. 

“One of the largest things that contributed to our success is the connectivity and comradery we had,” Douglas said. “We used to all hangout outside of basketball together which I feel improved our chemistry on the court, to this day we’ll all go out to eat once a month.” 

Until 1985, no Grady girls Basketball team had ever made it out of the first round, and in the decades before that, countless teams never even made the playoffs. Co-captain Yolanda McWhorter looks back on their historic success in the 1986 playoffs.  

“Playing in the Final Four was an amazing experience for us because no other Grady team had ever gone that far,” McWhorter said. “Going through the gauntlet in the region games was also just as inspiring because teams before us never even made the playoffs.” 

Slade said that the mentality of the team shifted, becoming more confident during the playoffs.

“Once you find yourself in the Sweet 16 or the Elite 8, you kind of realize that you can do this,” Slade said. “The teams aren’t better. It comes down to who wants it the most. They had the mentality of ‘we’re going to do it, or we’re going to die trying.’”

Co-captain Jackie Platt believes that both the team’s mindset and skill set propelled them to go far in the playoffs.

“I was expecting that we were going to make it,” Platt said. “We had a lot of dedicated players that loved the game and a lot of us played ball when we were in middle school which helped us hone our skills. It took a lot of hard work and excellent coaching.”

McWhorter says the team’s comradery defined their play style and mindset when playing bigger, more physical opponents.  

“Playing on a smaller team we would go against teams that were bigger and stronger than us,” McWhorter said. “At some point we were playing teams with six foot guards, and we’d be asking ourselves ‘is this the high school team or the college team?’ We would run defenses that allowed us to help each other, Coach Slade always preached family, he always instilled the idea of all for one for all, so I think that kinda shaped our almost scrappy identity on defense.”

Slade said that the team made sacrifices and put in hard work and dedication prior to the season to make it even further than they did the previous year.

“We had to get it in their minds that they could actually do it,” Slade said. “We stressed hard work. We always worked through the summer. I gave them a couple of weeks after the season then we were right back at it. It was really asking kids to leave what they were doing during the summer. I have to give credit to the girls because they wanted it, and it was nothing but hard work, nothing but dedication.”

At the time of the team’s run, public city school sports programs were poorly funded. The Knights were at a disadvantage compared to many of the schools they played with larger coaching staffs and significantly more resources. Douglas says the team’s culture of hard work allowed them to overcome these challenges.  

“We definitely had less resources than other schools we played, we had a really tiny weight room off the gym that could barely fit all of us,” Douglas said. “It did put us at a disadvantage to other teams we played, but we did the best we could to overcome it, even having practices outside of just after school.”

Now 38 years later, this year’s Knights won 58-37 against Jones County to make it to the Final Four for the first time since 1986. Slade advises the 2024 Knights to maintain a strong mindset. 

“My message to them is to leave everything on the floor,” Slade said. “Just try to be the best in whatever it is in life. 54 teams started off in this classification trying to get here, and they are one of the four. It now comes down to who wants it the most. They have the talent, now it comes down to the want for it.”

 

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About the Contributors
Sam Silcock
Sam Silcock, Sports Section Editor
Sam is a junior and this is his third year writing for the Southerner. When he is not writing he is playing soccer, going on runs, or hanging out with friends.
Farris Duwayri
Farris Duwayri, News Associate Managing Editor
Farris Duwayri is a junior and this is his third year on the staff. He enjoys playing Midtown's football team and debate team. He likes cars and hanging out with friends

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