When Maxine Cherry became the girls head coach at Peach County, Tamica Sneed was about 4 years old.
She went on to play on a state championship team at Putnam County and spent several years in Bibb County as an assistant coach at Westside and the head coach at Weaver Middle, along with two years as head coach at Lamar County.
Now, it is Sneed — who got married in the fall and still gets more people using her maiden name of Andrews than her married name — sitting in the office just off the corner of the court at Peach County. The boss has changed, thanks to Cherry’s retirement, but the winning hasn’t, and here the Trojans are again, among the state’s top teams in GHSA Class 3A at 23-4 and in the playoffs.
The tradition was a natural attraction for Sneed when Cherry retired.
“I knew the girls were used to winning,” said Sneed, who earned her doctorate last fall and taught business classes at Lamar County. “I knew there was a winning mindset here.”
Peach County travels to Haralson County for a 6 p.m. game Wednesday in the second round, a round that was a big monkey on the Trojans back for years. They finally broke a streak of being upended in the second round a year ago when they beat visiting Ringgold 61-48, inspiring more joy than the normal second-round win. But they lost 46-43 to Johnson in the next round to finish 26-3.
The Trojans don’t have a high-scoring attack, but they are balanced with two players averaging in double figures and two on the fringe and a pair of players in double figures rebounding.
The new face is Daishai Almond, who made the move from Lamar County with her dad Sheldon, who was Sneed’s assistant last year at Lamar County and moved with Sneed and works at Byron Elementary. Almond averages 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Deja Holland adds 10 points and four steals. Da’Nasia Shaw grabs 13 rebounds a game to go with seven points, and Amyah Price averages about seven a game.
The Trojans are young but experienced, filling the void left by two-time All-Middle Georgia Girls Player of the Year Nausia Woolfolk, who is now at Florida State. Holland, Shaw, Price, juniors Eboni Steele, Illeha Pickens and sophomore Maiyah Willis all saw quality time last year.
Steele said the Trojans started getting used to the newest head coach since the middle of Ronald Reagan’s residence in the White House during the summer.
“Off the jump,” Steele said of when it really became Sneed’s team. “She was so interactive with us in the summer. We took trips, and worked out.”
Steele said Cherry and Sneed are definitely different.
“Coach Andrews is more laid back,” Steele said. “She doesn’t talk as much as Coach Cherry. At practice? Oh my God.”
Sneed brought a little more intensity and speed, building on what Cherry left.
Peach County’s regular-season losses were to Class 4A Perry by 16 and by four and to Class 6A Northside by six. The Trojans basically rolled through Region 4-3A play, going 12-0. Central, in a foreshadowing effort, gave Peach County its toughest region game, losing 42-40 on Jan. 13.
The Chargers got revenge with a last-second 47-46 win on Feb. 11 in the region tournament championship.
“They took it pretty hard,” Sneed said of the end of an 18-game winning streak. “I think we’ve refocused since then.”
The Trojans had a “lemon squeeze,” aka team meeting, that Steele and Sneed said went perfectly.
Sneed said one player noted that a teammate had been a reliable scorer all season, yet took only a few shots in the region tournament finale, and that the team relied on her for more.
“I told them don’t take it personally,” Sneed said. “We’re all cheering for the same team. We’re for Peach County.”
Steele didn’t expect any problems from airing things out.
“All four of my years, we’ve always had a close bond,” she said. “We’ve always had a bond. We’re like sisters.”
And now the sisters are a little miffed at missing out on the region title three-peat.
“It made us humble,” Steele said. “It made us realize that it can be taken any anytime. So, we have a chip on our shoulder.”