West Gadsden's Hoop Dreams: A State Title

Greensboro, FL - Watch the end of a West Gadsden practice, the portion where the basketball team wraps up with a scrimmage. The first thing that sticks out: they love to play above the rim; number two: they are well-conditioned; and number three: they play lockdown defense.

Since taking over as head coach last year, Andrew Moten has instilled a defensive philosophy. He accepts nothing else but strong defense.

"We use our defense to create offense," he said. "So, if we put good pressure on you and you turn it over, we'll try to convert that into baskets."

Around this time, you'll usually find an empty gym, the season for the Panthers is usually over. But the team has changed - whether that has to do with Moten taking over or the rise in talent around Greensboro.

West Gadsden is 25-2, 12-0 in district play and are in the state playoffs for the first time in school history.

"This summer we practiced, we already said what our record was gonna be because we believed it and we're coming out here, we're doing it," junior forward Charis Fitzgerald said.

The Panthers have been making history all season. They beat East Gadsden for the first time ever on the road and they won the school's first district title.

"It means a lot," junior guard Brandon Shingles said. "Of course it's my first district championship ever, so I mean, for it to be the school's first district championship and mine, I think it's pretty good."

On Tuesday, February 21st, West Gadsden will host Cottondale in the regional quarterfinals.

"Cottondale was a good team when we played them last time," Shingles said. "But, we'll come out and play good defense and everything will be all right."

"For the last 40 years we really didn't have a championship team, so that's what we're trying to give this community," Moten said.

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