Army National Guard members visiting Princess Anne High School (PAHS) May 4 were not there for a recruiting session of future citizen soldiers. They were on-hand to salute members of the PAHS girls basketball team who are fresh off an unprecedented fourth straight state championship.
This was the 12th annual MaxPreps Basketball Tour of Champions (TOC) presented by the National Guard. According to MaxPreps, an online source covering high school sports, the TOC is considered one of the most prestigious team awards in all of high school sports. In order to be eligible, a team must win a state championship and be highly ranked in the MaxPrep National Rankings. For basketball, only 20 of the country’s best teams are invited out of nearly 40,000 competing varsity teams.
Princess Anne finished atop the MaxPreps Virginia Division 5A computer rankings as well as No. 72 in MaxPreps national rankings.
“We do this to honor the students for all of their hard work and achievements,” said Ray Dungy of MaxPreps. “It’s worth traveling the country, just to see their smiling faces. Plus, it’s an honor working with the National Guard to present student-athletes a national ranking trophy.”
Station commander Sgt. First Class Holly Snead talked about her unit’s participation. “It’s important for the National Guard to be involved in all community events because we’re known in the community as citizen soldiers. It keeps us visible, let’s people know who we are and we just like to be involved in the community.”
Head basketball coach Darnell Dozier explained that his four-time champion’s accomplishments go well beyond the school. “It’s not only important to us, we do this for the entire city. It puts us on the map. It gets the girls noticed in school. It gets us noticed by all of the schools in the country. Today is just a big event and we’re very proud of today’s national recognition.”
As the assembly was closing, the team was called onstage where National Guard members presented them with the Minuteman trophy, symbolizing their state and national rankings.
“Today has been amazing,” said Nyla Pollard, team captain. “Every time that we’re recognized it’s just a refreshing feeling. Just to know that people see that you’ve worked hard. Nothing was given to us; we definitely worked for what we received. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Princess Anne finished with a 28-2 season and is the only school in Virginia to win four consecutive state basketball titles. The Cavaliers have claimed eight total girls state basketball championships since 2002.