NEWBERRY – Though many of the sports seasons have ended, the accolades for Newberry High School’s athletics program continue.
The Florida Association of Basketball Coaches recognized Coach Ray Parrish as the Girls Coach of the Year for Division 1A and player Lasharrah Nattiel as the Girls Player of the Year for Division 1A. The recipients were selected from a statewide ballot of Florida Association of Basketball Coaches members.
Parrish has been coaching at the school for four years, and this year the season proved especially remarkable. The school made it to the FSHAA state finals, the first time in over a decade. Parrish said that the team’s success was four years in the making.
“This isn’t something that just happened overnight,” Parrish said in February as the team left for the state semifinals in Lakeland, Fla.
Though the Lady Panthers lost to Ponce de Leon High School 52-55, their wins in both the regional finals and the state semifinals left a lasting impression on the community.
The Newberry City Commission recognized the team at a meeting on March 12. At the meeting, Parrish commended the girls on their success but urged the city and commission to remember the local teams as the city’s sports tourism programs begin to take off.
“You can’t leave these kids and the community,” he said at the meeting.
Nattiel scored 19 points in the final game. She also had 15 rebounds and two assists in that game.
Newberry High School Principal Shane Andrew said the team was the first state championship for any sport at the school since 2007.
“Overall, their success certainly brought back pride to our girls basketball team,” Andrew said. “We’re extremely excited.”