For the first time in known memory, the Union County Lady Panthers have cracked the top-5 in the state rankings. The girls are 15-3 overall, 6-1 in Region 8-AA, and are hopefully heading toward an historic year.
“Everybody bought into our system, just focus on getting better together” says head coach Crystal Beach, who took over the program prior to this season. “I’m not a t-shirt slogan person, you know if we’re going to say it, we’re going to live by it, and that’s what they’ve done. We look at [the rankings], but we just keep our heads down and focus day by day.”
Beach has had players like seniors Kait McCarter and Andelin Hill, who have long been standouts on the court, and promising young talent like Ava Hunter and Riley Allison among others that have been key to the success of the program.
“Absolutely our success goes right back to [our seniors],” says Beach about her senior leaders. “Their leadership is both on and off the court. All of them phenomenal young women. Those lowerclassmen look up to them, and want to do the same and fight for them to have the best senior season they can.”
The litmus test has been completed, and Union County passed when it nearly upset then-undefeated and #1-ranked Rabun County on January 3, falling by a mere 4 points.
The Lady Panthers have won 5 of their last 6 overall, and have had 3 4-game or larger win streaks this year. The offense behind Hill, Hunter, and McCarter have averaged right at 56 per game, while the defense has allowed just 41.5 per contest.
The team has been tested, and have come out looking every bit the true contenders they are with the Rabun game and a win over the always-gritty Banks County program. The peripherals support the notion, as the depth exists on the team, as well as the balance, to make a serious run.
“We’re really in the driver’s seat of our destiny,” says Beach. “Peaking at the right time will be huge, but the girls know what they need to do. We just need to go out there and execute and I think we’ll see some exciting things from this group of young women.”
Digital Copy of Interview – Crystal Beach
Digital Copy of Interview - Crystal Beach