Tattnall Square teams carry plenty of momentum into GISA Final Four

For most of the season, the Tattnall Square girls basketball team has set the standard for the boys team to follow.

But this weekend in the GISA Class AAA Final Four, the Trojans hope to reverse those roles.

The Trojans, who have spent most of their season taking the court after Lady Trojans wins, lead the Tattnall contingent to the Final Four today.

The Lady Trojans will follow with their semifinal game Friday night.

“They’ve put a lot of pressure on us all season,” Tattnall boys head coach Paul Brooks said with a laugh. “But it’s good pressure. They’ve won a lot of games, and people will come up to us say, ‘The girls got theirs. Now it’s your turn.’ ”

Both Tattnall teams hope this weekend is their turn.

The girls haven’t won a state title since the 1997-98 season while the boys have never won a state championship. Tattnall’s boys take on defending state champion Mount Vernon in the semifinals, while the girls will face Gatewood.

If both Tattnall teams win, they will revert to their usual roles with the girls playing Saturday followed by the boys.

“We need to set the bar high for (the girls team) this weekend,” said senior DeAndre Smelter, who already has led the Tattnall football and baseball teams to state titles in his career. “It would be real special for us to win a state title because Tattnall’s never won one, and this game (today) is another step toward that. We’re really looking forward to this weekend and having both teams over there playing.”

Peaches Campbell expected the trip to Georgia College & State to take place, but it has been a long road to get there.

The Tattnall girls haven’t played in the Final Four since the 1998 state title, and they had struggled for years before Campbell and Faren Harris transferred into the program. Their cause was helped when Shanice Stanley transferred from Twiggs County this season, giving the Lady Trojans an inside presence to go with their two talented guards.

“I would put our two guards up against anyone,” Tattnall girls head coach Richard Reid said. “They’ve been really good for us. But having Shanice really changed things. It gave us an inside-outside balance that we didn’t have before, and it’s made it much more difficult for teams to defend us.”

The result was a Region 2-AAA title and a 28-3 record entering the Final Four.

“I went to the Final Four as a freshman, and I said when I came here that we would get there,” said Campbell, who transferred with Harris from Westside and was part of the Seminoles’ GHSA Final Four team her first year of varsity play. “I just felt like we could get there. We’re very excited, and we feel like this is a great opportunity for all of our girls.”

The opportunity is there for both Tattnall teams, and they expect a large crowd following them to Milledgeville the next two days. It just so happens that the boys will get the first shot to earn a spot in the championship game. Then the girls will get their chance.

Just like the girls, the boys have plenty of momentum after winning their third straight region title.

“Everyone at the school is really excited, and we just want everyone to enjoy it,” Brooks said. “It’s hard enough to get one team over there, but for both teams to make it, that’s really special, and it’s something everyone should appreciate.”