McEachern is hoping to change that.
The Lady Indians, who won the Class AAAAA state title in 2012, have an opportunity not only to make program history, but local history as well, when they face off against Archer in the Class AAAAAA state championship game Saturday evening at the Macon Centreplex.
The list of title holders includes Marietta (Class AA) in 1951, Sprayberry (Class AA) in 1971, the 1998 Wheeler (Class AAAA) squad and the 1999 Pope (Class AAAA) team.
McEachern could become the first program to win it twice.
“I’m really excited for the girls and for the school,” McEachern coach Phyllis Arthur said. “It’s exciting to be back in this position, and I’m especially excited for the players that haven’t been here before. To see their faces and know it’s nearing the end and we could be the state champions again on Saturday, is truly a blessing.
“They’re expecting it and they really want it. I told them whoever comes out there and wants it the most is going to get it.”
Winning the game won’t be easy for McEachern (27-2), which has an average margin of victory of 36 points in the playoffs. Archer (29-3), a fifth-year program, has proven it can compete.
“They’re disciplined,” Arthur said. “They can shoot from the outside and they have some height with the Newby sisters (Madison and Autumn). We’ve been watching film, and we know they’re scrappy and they crash the boards, so we have to get in there and box out and we have to stop them from penetrating.”
One thing McEachern has in its favor is experience. Three players — Te’a Cooper, KlinTisha Martin and Declaria Daniels — were a part of McEachern’s championship team from two years ago. Saturday will also mark the Lady Indians’ third state championship game appearance in four years.
“Even though we have the experience, because they’re a young team, it doesn’t mean anything,” Arthur said.
Cooper, who was the starting guard on the 2012 team, isn’t dwelling on that past experience because the teams are so different.
“That last one is forgotten about,” she said. “We’re trying to do something special this year. That was an amazing team my freshman year. We were more experienced and older and determined to be champion. This year’s team has a different drive.”
That drive stems from the negative comments the team has received. There have been accusations of illegal recruiting and undue influence from boosters contributing to the makeup of this year’s team.
“If people aren’t talking about you, then you’re not doing something right, I guess,” Cooper said. “For us, it’s just all been motivation. We’ve turned that negative energy into positive energy.”
Arthur has the Lady Indians’ support.
“With myself, especially, I was thinking why would someone even say things like this about me and question my character and slander and disparage me. That’s not who I am, that’s not who my team is and that’s not what McEachern is. It’s all false. I told (her players) we’re not going to listen to that anymore and we’re going to use that negativity as motivation. What it’s really done is motivate us.”
Senior wing Taylor Gordon is also motivated. She wasn’t allowed to play for McEachern last season even though she lives in the school district. Gordon spent her first two years playing for North Cobb, attending the school because of its Magnet program.
“This is a dream come true,” she said. “I feel like every player wants to be in this position. For me and my team, this is exciting. It’s overwhelming too because of the things I went through last year. It’s emotional, but fun and shows you can overcome adversity. Hopefully, we’ll get the chance to accomplishment our goal.”