Lady Warriors coach Robin Dotson.
WISE — It rained on the Wise Central Lady Warriors' parade on Sunday. But nobody cared. For anybody and everybody in Wise County, it was just really wet celebratory confetti showering down on the state basketball champs.
The Lady Warriors received a rousing welcome home Sunday after Saturday's improbable, storybook victory over season-long nemesis Gate City in Richmond.
Four times this season the Lady Warriors (24-6) faced, and fell, to the Lady Blue Devils (25-3), but on Saturday in Richmond, in the game that mattered most, it was the Lady Warriors seizing a stunning 47-38 victory as well as the VHSL 2A state crown.
When the team, cheerleaders and traveling fans returned home to Wise on Sunday, there was rain, law enforcement and fire truck escorts, chants, cheers and an exuberant welcoming home crowd at the new Central High School.
A momentarily forgotten member of the entourage, Lady Warriors coach Robin Dotson, stood in a school hallway, cradling the championship trophy while sharing a private moment with his eighth-grade daughter, Sarah, as the crowd mobbed the team nearby.
A bit overwhelmed by it all, words didn't come easily for Dotson. But they came from the heart.
"I'm at a loss for words, really," he said. "It was the incredible heart they showed. They've been through a lot together, and in Richmond they faced unbelievable odds. But they believed the whole way. They are a fantastic group of girls."
For Sarah, witnessing a dream come true for her dad, his team, the school, a town and the entire county has her dreaming those dreams now, too.
"I'm really excited, and it just makes me really motivated when I play for him, and I hope to experience this one day, too," she said.
Following a raucous motorcade through town, the girls — many of them swathed in blankets against the cold, rain and daylong bus ride across the state — led their happy throng of well-wishers into the school where family, friends and fans ushered in the new school's first major team state trophy.
Bill Dotten, grandfather of Lady Warriors roundball phenom Logan Reynolds, sought shelter under a school awning while awaiting the arrival of the team, his granddaughter and his wife, Kaye, Logan's grandmother, better known to the team as Moomow.
"I watched it on the Internet," he said of Saturday's game. "And I swear I could hear a familiar voice (his wife's). But as for Logan? She is a winner in several avenues of life. She's a winner all around. A good kid. And not just in basketball."
Vickie McGregor said she is good friends with Logan's family "and we are just very proud to be here today. Very thankful. Two weeks ago we played (Gate City) at Virginia High and my husband (Michael) predicted then that we would play them again in the state championship game and this time, beat them by 10 points. He was close. They did it by nine."
Vickie's mother, Phyllis Dotson, said she had all the confidence in the world the Lady Warriors would return from Richmond with the trophy.
"I had no doubts. None. I just had a feeling," she said. "I love it. It's wonderful. They are great! We all go wild over those girls. Especially me."
Logan Reynolds spoke for her teammates when they were all swallowed up by the merry mob.
"I think everybody doubted us, and that helped push us forward," she said. "We were the underdogs, and that is what ultimately made us want to win so much more, to fight harder and play harder than we had before, the way we knew we could. And? We did."