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Lady Tigers look to bring state title to Wharton

WHARTON, Texas – Three seasons ago, winning 10 or so games would have been a huge jump forward for the Wharton Lady Tigers.

That’s around the time head coach Jonathan Gibson took over and the team went from a combined nine wins in the three seasons prior to his arrival to seasons of 23, 31 and 31 wins.

The 31 wins last season came without a loss. But that first one stung since it ended the Tigers' undefeated run in the second round of the 2016 playoffs.

This season, the 31 wins have the team as the first in school history to earn a trip to the state tournament.

Community support in Wharton is visible in Monterey Square surrounding the courthouse with red, white and blue streamers seen all throughout the town.

“A couple people doubted us, but we shocked the whole community,” Lady Tigers guard Destiny Knight said. “It’s good though, it’s amazing.”

Obviously the team is proud of their accomplishment, but they aim to not just reach the state tournament but return to Wharton with the title.

Wharton will play Argyle (35-2) in the semifinals on Friday in San Antonio. Argyle is the two-time defending state champion.

“They are not scared of anybody,” coach Gibson said. “And I don’t say that lightly and I don’t say that arrogantly."

“They think they can play with anybody in the state,” he said.

It’s been a total turnaround for Wharton under Gibson, but it’s the family-first coaching style that has really been most important for the team.

“He’s a very good coach,” Lady Tigers sophomore Ciarra Mutshatshi said. “He’s actually like our father figure because all of us don’t have our fathers in our lives, so he’s been a father figure in all of our lives.”

“They don’t really care how much you know until they know how much you care,” coach Gibson said.

“They know how much I care. I tell them all the time I love ‘em. I tell them all the time I’m proud of ‘em," he said.

"I really do, I treat them like family.”