KATHLEEN, Ga. -- The Veterans Warhawks (17-10, 5-3) will accomplish something that hasn't been done in the program in five seasons -- host a state playoff game.
When head coach Brett Hardy took over at Veterans this season, inherited a team that posted a 7-19 record in 2018. In his first season with the Warhawks, he led them to their first region championship game since 2013-14 -- when Veterans was still competing in AAAA.
"I was blessed to come in and have a bunch of good boys to work with," Hardy said. "They've just stepped up into our system and done the things we've asked them to do, and it's paid off."
As Hardy has preached all season long, the Warhawks weren't content to just be in the region championship -- they expected to win. Veterans fell short of that goal, and that loss will be a fuel for the team entering state tournament play.
"I think there were some long faces in the locker room after the game," Hardy said. "I think they expected to win the game on Saturday. I hope that it does fuel them to get better, and to try and play more important games down the road."
It's been a season full of turnaround for Veterans athletics. The Warhawks football team posted an 8-3 record after winning only two games the previous season. Now it's the basketball team's turn to follow suit.
"I guess football and basketball for a while have been the ones that have kind of lagged behind," Hardy said. "We feel like we need to pull our weight, and we feel like we're capable of winning basketball games. It's been fun."
While the team is certainly proud of its accomplishments to this point in the season, the Warhawks aren't satisfied with simply showing up in the state tournament. They've made it this far, and see no reason they can't go just a little bit further.
"We've just got to keep fighting, and not just be in the tournament, but make an impact," Hardy said. "And you can't make an impact unless you get after it."
Veterans will host Dutchtown in the first round of the GHSA 5A state playoffs on Saturday at 6:30 p.m..