Chandler Short figures the past 10 years. The Edgewood senior’s dad disagrees, however.
“She doesn’t remember,” Lady Bulldogs coach Kyle Short laughed. “I’ve been taking her ever since she was about two.”
The annual destination? That would be the UIL state basketball tournament in Austin, an event many grow up attending — but never get to participate in.
This morning, the Shorts will once again make the trip down I-35 and will be in the stands Thursday. What sets this season apart is that, for the first time, they’ll be among the qualifiers as well.
On Friday morning, Edgewood (31-6) meets Poth (28-8) in the Class 2A semifinals at the University of Texas’ Frank Erwin Center. The game will be dreamlike for the Shorts, namely because Chandler is a senior and the state appearance is occurring in their final season as coach and player.
“Everything is surreal,” Chandler said. “I can’t believe it is happening, and for it to actually happen my senior year? This is everything we’ve worked for.”
Added coach Short: “I never really thought I would get to coach down there. I’ve been to state in other sports, but never been to the final four in basketball.”
Last spring, the Shorts made it to Austin in tennis when Chandler and Josh Sharff qualified in mixed doubles. And while at Spearman High School, coach Short led his oldest daughters, twins Jordan and Lindsey, to six state medals in tennis (Lindsey was the 2006 Class 2A singles champion).
Despite having experienced the UIL’s highest level in another sport, state basketball resides in its own world when it comes to history and mystique.
“It’s going to be crazy, actually getting to play on that court in front of everybody,” said Chandler, who missed her junior season with an ACL injury. “All the championship games (are my favorite memories). The semifinals are good, but when you see that team win you want it to be yourself. Now that I’m getting an opportunity for it to be Edgewood, it makes my heart race.”
Edgewood, whose only other final four appearance came in 1996, eliminated district rival Winnsboro in the 2A Region III final last Saturday at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. The Lady Bulldogs’ 62-52 victory over the state power has left the Edgewood community in a frenzy.
Among the scheduled events includes a sendoff pep rally at 8:15 a.m. today in front of the high school, plus hundreds of Lady Bulldogs faithful are planning to make the trip south.
“They’re excited,” coach Short said. “It sounds like a bunch of people are making plans to go down there for the Friday morning game. ...It’s a great time to be from Edgewood.”
Susan Agesen, a senior post, made plans to experience state for the first time months ago.
“My mom booked a hotel room earlier in the basketball season and said it was senior year, so we would go and watch,” Agesen said. “Well, we never thought we would be going to play. It feels great. It’s really indescribable.”
The winner between Edgewood and Poth (10 a.m. tipoff) will face either defending champion Brock (33-5) or Jim Ned (28-8) for the title Saturday afternoon. Brock and Jim need meet at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
Brock has qualified for state the past four seasons and 18 times overall, while Poth has three straight appearances (12 overall).
Jim Ned has been to state three times.