Team seeks help reaching tournament
Ken Watts | 12/13/2013, 6 a.m.
Southwest DeKalb High’s Lady Panthers are scrambling to raise $4,000 to pay for a Dec. 19-21 trip to the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix.
The Class AAAAA state girls basketball champions have been fundraising since their April invitation to the tournament but fell short of their $14,000 mark.
Coach Kathleen Richey-Walton said the team raised $10,000 to cover airfare to Phoenix but needs $4,000 to pay for hotel rooms for the 20 players and coaching staff who will make the trip. She said making the trip would be a nice reward for the four-time state champions who have worked hard.
Richey-Walton said the tournament invitation is an important signal that the Lady Panthers are rising to national prominence and a tremendous compliment to the Southwest DeKalb girls basketball program.
“We’re ranked 23rd out of all high school teams in the U.S. and we’ll be playing other nationally ranked teams at the tournament,” she said Friday. “I’ve been trying to get us into the Nike competition ever since I started here in 2002.”
The Lady Panthers have gone to the Georgia state high school finals five of the past six years and won four championships.
The team is one of three from metro Atlanta invited to the Nike Tournament. The others are Columbia High in Decatur and Collins Hill High in Suwanee.
Richey-Walton said the Lady Panthers raised most of the funds by hosting a Southwest DeKalb fall league from Sept. 8 to Oct 26. “Ten teams paid fees to participate.”
The rest of the funds came from an Oct. 12 Breakfast of Champions benefit and homecoming game and donations at their Nov. 14 preseason game against Columbia.
Richey-Walton, who coached for 20 years at the college level, moved to Southwest DeKalb in 2002. Since her arrival, the Lady Panthers have posted a 224-70 record.
Want to help?
To donate or sponsor the team, contact Greg White at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-702-4117. The team has a self-imposed fundraising deadline of Dec. 15 to allow time to make final arrangements.