AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) — This time last year, Josey’s women’s basketball team entered the state playoffs as the region’s second seed.
After a blowout first-round win over Fitzgerald, the Eagles had to come from behind on the road in each of their next three games. In the championship game against Fannin County in Macon, the Eagles again made a second-half comeback and won a state title.
Fast forward a year, not much has changed. Much of the Championship team is back, as is head coach Jawan Bailey.
But everything is different at the same time.
Winning a championship put a target on Josey’s back. Each match seemed to be the biggest of the year. Josey had a tough out-of-region schedule to start the season. They faced last year’s AAA champions Cross Creek in the opener. They followed that up with matches against Evans, Greenbrier, Elbert County, Thomson and Statesboro. Outside of Evans, those teams are 107-20 combined this year.
In six games, Josey was 3-3.
Once the regional game was played, Josey reminded everyone why they were the reigning AA champions. The Eagles have won 13 in 14 regional games, with their only loss coming to Laney by three points. They finished it with a region title, they are first under Bailey.
“It felt good to finally give him something he’s wanted for a long time,” senior Ky’shonna Brown said.
Asked about the similarities between this year and last year, Brown said the system was similar. They haven’t changed things too much. But she said it’s a more talented team from top to bottom than the state championship team.
And their attitude is different.
“I feel like we’re a little hungrier because we’re still not getting the respect we deserve,” she said.
After winning a state championship. After leading the region. After winning their first regional championship in years. This team always feels despised.
Assistant coach Jamal Bailey, Jawan’s brother, said when you have a team with this much talent, individual accolades are sacrificed for team success.
“They’re being looked at because all of our points, rebounds and assists are being allocated,” Jamal Bailey said. “When it comes to an all-state, all-region team, you’ll see our girls are maybe second team, third team, honorable mention. You don’t see them on this first team, which is odd for a state championship team.
“We have to let them know that being on a good team, you’re going to lose some of those individual rewards. But those big rewards like a state championship, a regional championship, those are the things we can get as a team.
Sacrifice individual success for team success. That’s what this Josey team did so well. You will rarely see a player dominate the stat sheet, but the result is often the same.
A victory Josey.
It’s a family atmosphere at the Eagles, literally and figuratively. Many of these coaches grew up together. Three of them, including Jawan and Jamal Bailey, are Josey graduates.
This family connection carried over to their players. They play for each other and that motivates them to work harder.
“If you come to our practice and see how we work, you’d be like, ‘No, I can’t do that,'” senior Aqoyas Cody said. “We outperform everyone. Our work ethic is just different from everyone else’s. We deserve everything that happens to us. »
What awaits Josey is the chance to defend his title. The Eagles (21-5) welcome Jeff Davis (5-20) to the Eagles nest on Tuesday, Feb. 22 at 6 p.m.
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