They haven't been quite able to break their streak of losing seasons, but the Wheeler Lady Wildcats have come up as big winners in a more important way.
For the first time since 2004-05, the Lady Wildcats (13-14) have qualified for the Georgia High School Association girls basketball tournament by finishing third last weekend in the Region 5-AAAAA tournament.
At 7 p.m. Friday they will play at North Forsyth in a tough part of the bracket. Should Wheeler win that game, undefeated Parkview figures to loom in the second round.
Former assistant coach Joel Howell, who played for the Wheeler boys from 1989-93, took the helm as head coach of the girls team at the start of the 2010-11 season. Before that, the Lady Wildcats were coming off two consecutive seasons with only seven wins each, and have had only two winning seasons since their last state tournament appearance.
Wheeler has three players averaging in double figure scoring: Guard Aysia Grimsley (15.4 ppg), center Alaysia Mitchell (13.3 ppg) and forward Kiana Griffin (10.5 ppg).
Mitchell also averages 11.8 rebounds a game, and Griffin is averaging nine rebounds.
Two other East Cobb teams have reached the state tournament. The Wheeler boys will play at home at 6 p.m. Saturday against Northview, while the Walton boys will play at No. 1 Milton at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.