• Marist girls 4, Dalton 0: One of the most powerful runs in recent Lady Catamounts’ history was ended by a state power.
Atlanta’s Marist (18-1) dropped a handful of games on the way to its Class 4A state tournament win against visiting Dalton (16-4), which was in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2007. Marist is a 21-time state champion.
The Lady War Eagles swept singles — No. 1 Kelsey Williams beat Courtney Morton, 6-0, 6-0, No. 2 Marielle Williams beat Kara Pendley, 6-1, 6-2, and No. 3 Jenna Kane beat Anna Grace Wilson, 6-0, 6-0. Marist also won on the No. 1 doubles court as Lauren McMurray and Elizabeth Gould topped Sheridan Fromm and Mackenzie Creswell, 6-4, 6-2.
With the overall victory clinched by Region 6 champion Marist, the No. 2 doubles match between Dalton’s Rachel Bakker and Caroline Calfee and Marist’s Anna Swensen and Leigh Peters was not finished. Bakker and Calfee dropped the first set 6-2 before winning the second set by the same score, and the third set was not started.
Dalton won the Region 7-4A title this season for its first league championship since 2008, and the Lady Cats added to their accolades by beating Banneker 5-0 in the opening round and Carrollton 3-1 in the second round. While the year is over now, Dalton coach David Hilley knows it was a very good one while it lasted.
“I don’t know if I expected this when the season started,” he said. “There were a lot of question marks. But we came together as a team, which is really good.
“The first three matches of the year you’re trying to find your lineup and stuff like that, but they really worked hard together and became a team. Everybody pushed everybody to get better, and they all got along. They’re one of my favorite teams I’ve coached just because of that.”
They’re also one of just two Lady Cats teams to reach the quarterfinals in Hilley’s 11 seasons as coach. The 2007 team also lost to Marist. He gives much of the credit for the success to players who won’t return.
“(The players) worked hard in the offseason to achieve what they did, and these seniors were the big thing,” Hilley said. “They worked hard to keep the younger kids focused.
“If we had not had the seniors, I don’t think we would have gone as far as we did. They’re the ones who made the year.”
Dalton loses Bakker, Fromm, Morton, Pendley and Michelle Rogers to graduation.
“That’s tough,” Hilley said. “Other girls are going to have to step up.”