NOLAN COUNTY, Texas - Some might call the Highland ISD girls basketball team the little engine that could.
Friday the Lady Hornets team heads to Austin to play in the state tournament for the first time in the school's history. Their first game is against Saltillo at 1:30 p.m. at the Irwin Center on the University of Texas campus.
The school has a total enrollment of 240 students from kindergarten to 12th grade. Their basketball program started in 1937 when the school was established. They are in 1A, the smallest for the sport.
The school sits in a small community of just more than 1,000 people a few miles south of Roscoe, 12 miles southwest of Sweetwater.
Until they leave, the team is hard at work, preparing. For one senior player, the experience is a dream come true.
"It means everything to me," Lora Stewart said. "This has been our goal since I started. I've been working as a junior high kid up to now to get here – and so it's just kind of unreal that we made it all this way."
The team agrees that they could not have made it this far without coach Shea Baucom.
"He's a great coach," said junior player Beth Richburg. "He's really our rock. Besides God, he's our rock. He's always getting us to have a positive attitude and to be optimistic about things."
Baucom's first assignment at Highland lasted nine years. After being gone for three, and in his first year back, the Highland team is going farther than they've ever gone.
"I've seen them each and every day for several months now," Baucom said. "A lot of time and effort and work have gone in, so it's pleasing now for them to get to see some of the fruits of their labor."
Until Friday, the team continues to practice and prepare with hopes to add a state championship trophy to their case.