The Choctaw Central Lady Warriors were not only representing their school when they defeated Amanda Elzy 75-42 Saturday morning to claim the Mississippi High School Activities Association’s Class 3A Girls State basketball championship.

They were representing their nation, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

“This team does something few can do,” Chief Phyliss Anderson said after she congratulated the team. “They unite not just the school but the community together. We are extremely proud of them.”

 The Lady Warriors finished the championship season with a 31-3 record. It was the sixth state girls basketball championship in school history, the first five coming in 1996, 1997, 1999, 2004 and 2005.

Darien Tubby, the junior point guard for the Lady Warriors, was four or five years old when Choctaw Central won its last won the state. She doesn’t remember much about that event but she does know about the earlier championships.

“My sister (Randi Williams) played on the teams in the 1990s,” Tubby said. “I have grown up going to Choctaw Central games and hearing about winning the state championship. This is a big thing for the Choctaw people.”

The Lady Warriors lost to Booneville in the state finals last year and that’s something this team never forgot.

This season, the Choctaw Central girls have been head-and-shoulder about most of its competition. They have three losses. They lost by one point to Starkville in the Neshoba Central Classic. Starkville, at the time was the No. 1 team in the state. Forest beat them in the regular season but the Lady Warriors avenged that loss in the region tournament. And they lost to Hamilton Heights Christian School of Tennessee, a private school that was ranked No. 8 in the nation.

But in most of their games, they won in the decision in the first half and had to freeze the ball and play their bench in the second half to keep from scoring 100 points or more.

“All season, we were preparing for the championship game,” said Kyannah Grant. “We thought all along that we were going to play Booneville again, and it was a surprise when they lost to Amanda Elzy. But we stayed focused and got it done.”

Coach Bill Smith, who won a state championship in 1991 as the head coach at Neshoba Central, summed it up.

“This never gets old,” Smith said. “We take a couple of weeks off and then we’ll start getting ready for next year. We have a good nucleus of girls coming back and we have some talented young girls coming up.”

This is the second state championship the Choctaw Central girls have won this year. In October, they won the Class 3A slow-pitch softball championship.