The celebratory energy spread through the auditorium Monday at Marshall High School as students, faculty and staff cheered on the girls basketball team, congratulating the new 2018 Class 2A Girls Basketball State Champions.
The school planned a special rally to recognize the players for their 53-44 win against Harlan Academy at Saturday’s playoff game.
Girls Basketball Coach, Dorothy Gaters, congratulates the team on their championship title.
Eighteen-year-old twin sisters Dyanla and Miyanda Rainey, who go by DeDe and MeMe, are the team’s top two players, said coach Dorothy Gaters.
DeDe, who’s team captain, was named “Country Financial Player of the Year.” Gaters said that she’s the most outstanding player. The sisters transferred to the school and joined the team their sophomore year.
“They’re both good players,” Gaters said. “DeDe of course is Player of the Game and MeMe is a great defensive. It’s a joy to have them on the team.”
When it comes to Saturday’s victory, Gaters said spirits are still high. This is the ninth championship win for Gaters who has been coach at the school since 1975, she said.
Gaters has become the winningest basketball coach for male or female in the Illinois High School Association. She has made 26 trips to the state finals and won eight championships, Saturday marking the ninth.
“I’m feeling great,” she said. “We set our goals on winning city and state every year and it’s not unrealistic. We want to be the best so that’s why we set the bar so high.”
Preparation for the season started last year.
“In September, we were doing cross country running so if we failed, it wouldn’t be because we’re out of shape,” Gaters said.
There was practice every day of the week, said MeMe.
“Non-stop, Sunday, Monday, she didn’t care,” she said. “We in here practicing, and we got what we deserved for all of the practice we put in. It was hard. We came a long way, but we did it.”
Her sister said the victory win felt great and that during the actual game, one thing was circling through her mind.
“I wanted it, I needed it,” she said.
Principal Jammie Tenn Poole Jr. said the school has a winning tradition and it’s great that they’re keeping it alive.
“I’m just excited because this is a testament to the possibility that can happen for our students, our student athletes and this community period,” he said.