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East girls basketball team departs for state (video)

By BY CLAY WHITTINGTON - CWHITTINGTON@VICAD.COM
Feb. 29, 2012 at 7:05 p.m.
Updated Feb. 29, 2012 at 9:01 p.m.

The East girl's basketball team gets comfortable for the road trip to Austin, where they will compete in the state championship.

UIL Girls State Basketball Tournament

Erwin Center, AustinClass 4AThursday's Semifinals: Mansfield Summit (35-3) vs. Barbers Hill (33-8), 7 p.m.; Victoria East (40-2) vs. Rockwall (33-7), 8:30 p.m.Championship is 3:30 p.m. Saturday

For several days, a wave of momentum rushed through the halls of Victoria East High School.

Since winning the Region IV-4A championship in San Antonio on Saturday, the Titans girls basketball team has been the center of attention on campus, receiving support from classmates, teachers, administrators, parents and fans as they prepared for the school's first trip to the University Interscholastic League state tournament.

On Wednesday afternoon, the flood of enthusiasm gushed out the school's doors.

Accompanied by a performance from members of the school band, hundreds of students, faculty and fans lined the street, waving flags, cheering and holding homemade signs, as the Titans departed on chartered buses escorted by Victoria County Sheriff's Office deputies for the Erwin Center in Austin.

"You can just feel the electricity," East head coach Yulonda Wimbish-North said. "Everybody is real excited, and I'm excited for the girls, too. This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing."

And dedicated fans treated it accordingly.

Although tickets will continue to be available at the arena until Thursday's 8:30 p.m. tip-off, the school's allotment of 300 tickets for the state semifinal game against Rockwall sold out quickly, after going on sale to the public at noon Tuesday.

"We sold out in about three hours," VISD athletic director Ralph Escalona said. "We've had numerous calls about how to get tickets."

While the support is welcomed, the attention can be overwhelming to the players.

But few are complaining.

"I'm kind of worried because I don't want all of this to mess us up in the game," senior guard Adelaide Wenzel said. "I think we will be focused. We just have to stay calm, but it is all really fun right now."

Soon, however, it will become serious business for the Titans, who are one victory away from playing in Saturday afternoon's state championship game.

Wimbish-North is all too familiar with the emotional balancing act involved with winning a championship.

As a member of Victoria High School basketball team, Wimbish-North went to the state title game twice, winning in 1982.

In college, she won the 1985-86 national championship with the undefeated Texas Longhorns.

"(It is a tremendous) accomplishment, but there is more that we want to do," the coach said. "Right now, we are enjoying it, but we will be ready."

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