THUNDERBOLT (WTOC) - Back in late January, the Johnson girls' basketball team took down archrival Beach on the road on the Bulldogs' senior night.
After the game, Atom Smashers head coach Brandon Lindsey gave an emotional charge about the perception of his team. His postgame comments also included a prediction for later this season.
"Man please, we're going to be a team to reckon with in the state," Lindsey said that night.
Now several weeks later, Lindsey looks like the smartest person in the room.
The Atom Smashers are just one win from a state title, and Lindsey is doubling down on what he said back at Beach.
"I meant it. Absolutely," he says. "I believe it. I absolutely believe this is a championship caliber team."
The Atom Smashers say they felt disrespected for much of the season by just about everyone: their opponents and other schools mostly.
But the team says seeing their coach go to bat for them in an out of character way gave them the confidence at just the right time.
"He doesn't really show emotion, besides what he does on the sideline," laughs senior guard Bubbles Williams. "But we've never seen him cry or anything. So for him to do that on TV in front of the whole world, really showed us that he had the heart, and that he really believed in us."
Johnson takes on Greater Atlanta Christian Thursday in the GHSA Class AAA state championship.
After losing last year's title game, the Smashers have a chance at vindication. Not just for their recent run of success, but also their coach's bold prediction.