PEARL, MS (WLBT) - The Pearl Lady Pirates won their first basketball title since 1994 by defeating Terry 59-48 in the MHSAA girls 6A state championship.
That alone is impressive enough, but there’s much more to the story. Those girls won a gold ball while their head coach was deployed in Kuwait.
After the second game of the year, Lacey Kennedy had to leave her team and her family behind to serve her country, but being over 7,000 miles away wasn’t going to stop Lacey from cheering on her girls.
“We watched the game live over here,” Lacey said in a FaceTime interview. “The whole last minute my hands were shaking and when the buzzer went off, it was just tears of joy. I was just so freaking proud of them and everything they went through.”
Lacey handed her squad over to her husband Jason and he was able to guide the team to their first state title in 25 years.
“When I found out that I was leaving, it was an obvious choice for him to do it,” Lacey said. “He’s one of the best coaches in the state.”
Lacey has been the head coach at Pearl for six years and has been in the Army for four years, but this is her first deployment. She said it’s something she has wanted to do her entire life.
“I love our country. I love being a part of something bigger than myself,” Lacey said. “It’s why I love sports. It’s why I love coaching. It makes me feel complete being a part of something bigger.”
But being away during such an important time wasn’t easy for Lacey.
“This has been the hardest thing ever,” Lacey said. “My whole life has been geared towards that moment of holding that ball up. It was a bitter sweet moment for me because I was so proud of them. They deserve it. I’m so happy, but so sad that I couldn’t be there at the same time.”