O’Neal varsity girls basketball wins state championship

The O’Neal School varsity girls basketball team secured a historic victory on Saturday at North Raleigh Christian Academy by clinching the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association (NCISAA) 2A Basketball State Championship. The Falcons achieved this milestone by defeating Wayne Country Day School with a final score of 48-32, marking the school’s inaugural girls basketball championship.

Coach Donna Taylor remarked, “I truly love coaching these amazing young ladies. We made history! Finishing the season with a remarkable record of 30-1 and securing the school’s first girls’ state title. It’s truly a testament to their hard work, dedication, and talent.”

Taking an early lead, the Lady Falcons dominated the court, leading 23-15 at halftime. Ashanti Fox showcased exemplary performance, leading all scorers with 19 points, supported by Kennedy Moore (8 points), Reily Johnson (7 points), and Gianna Maheu (5 points). Kennedi Hamner, Ava Vonderkall, and Tamiya Judd also scored, contributing to the team’s point tally.

Coach Taylor further highlighted, “The turning point came at the start of third quarter when Ashanti Fox scored 10 straight points, and Kennedy Moore hit 2 three-pointers back-to-back! Extending lead to 19 points, and we never looked back.”

The Lady Falcons demonstrated remarkable stamina throughout the season, amassing 30 victories against a single loss. Their dedication to both athletic excellence and academic standards has been exemplary.

Athletic Director James Franklin expressed profound pride in the Lady Falcons, stating, “We are so proud of our girls’ basketball team. They demonstrated remarkable stamina throughout the season, amassing 30 victories against a single loss is very difficult. It’s not just their output on the court that makes this team special though. Their dedication to excellence in every aspect of their lives makes this team easy to support. Seeing our supporters at the game on Saturday was a testament to this. O’Neal fans traveled in their droves to cheer the girls on, and the bond between the girls and our school community was brilliant!”

Coach Taylor credited various factors for the team’s exceptional strength this season. “Continuity, reflected in our team culture statement emphasizing respect, commitment, connection, and trust, remained consistent throughout the season. Trusting the process, staying together, learning from mistakes, and making each other better were our guiding principles. Our team’s identity centered around a defensive style of play, consistent pressure from end to end, resulting in an average of 20 + turnovers forced per game.”

In adherence to O’Neal’s tradition of celebrating State Championship-winning teams, the Lady Falcons will present their well-earned trophy to Head of School John Elmore early next month.

Varsity girls basketball joins varsity girls swimming and varsity girls golf with the third state title earned for O’Neal Athletics for the 2023-2024 school year.

Feature photo: Front row (L-R): Riley Lefler, Kennedy Moore, Emeli Michael, and Lindsey Havenstein. Back row (L-R): Manager Reese Cabanillas, Asst. Coach Jill Faxon, Kennedi Hamner, Ava Vonderkall, Ashanti Fox, Reily Johnson, Tamiya Judd, Gianna Maheu, and Head Coach Donna Taylor. Photo credit Wendy Hodges.


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