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Panthers defeat final opponent, win state title

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By Terrance Chisolm

The West Gadsden Panthers completed their journey in Lakeland and secured a State Championship with a 64-44 win over Wildwood High. Coach Moten said “it was totally worth the wait. We were ready. We lost three straight to Chipley, and our kids wanted this one. Coach Moody was with us, and the kids did it for him.”
The Panthers brought their aggressive defense into the championship game and held the Wildcat’s offense in check. At the intermission, West Gadsden had a
25-15 lead.  
Offensively, West Gadsden’s big men stepped up in a major way, including Mark Bradwell who had a 14-point performance.
“I knew I had to prove myself and leave it all on the court, because it was my last high-school game” said Bradwell. “It feels great. I can’t describe it in words, but I’m happy to bring one back to the city.”
After a successful three-point play by junior Jimmy Hester at the start of the fourth quarter, the Panthers went through a rough patch, but they regained their composure and closed out the game like true champions.  
The team celebration was full of genuine emotion as they received their medallions, and team trophy.  
A large group of family members and fans gathered Thursday, March 2, in the school parking lot to greet the players as they returned. Once Coach Moten addressed the crowd the team released balloons in honor of Coach Moody and gathered for a prayer.
A combination of joy and relief was present in the tone Andrew Reddick used to express his feelings on his team’s big accomplishment: “It’s the best experience ever. There’s no better feeling than knowing you brought a state championship to your city.”
Coach Moten spoke on the feelings he experienced at the conclusion of the game:  “The first thing I thought about was some of the last words I shared with Coach Moody. He said he felt like we had the team to be able to do it. This team had heart and desire to win. We had some ups and downs, but they stuck with it and these are the results.”
Much love to the new 1A State Champions. Panther Nation let’s go!