After guiding Ripley to the school's 11th straight title, they're feeling much better.
In Saturday's finals, the Tigers reestablished their in-county dominance, blowing past the Blue Mountain Cougars 92-58. It was the second year in a row the teams have met in the finals.
"It started when we drew up the brackets," Gardner said. "We went to the top of the bracket and everybody ran from Blue Mountain. I thought at that point we were the best team in the county and it showed tonight."
The Cougars trailed 11-10 midway through the first quarter on a Trevario McClinton 3-pointer, but the rest of the night belonged to the Tigers.
Ripley closed the first quarter on an 8-0 run capped by a Deion Palmer 3-pointer to lead 19-11. They continued their onslaught in the second quarter, scoring 31 points. Back to back threes by Palmer and Malik Pearson extended the Tigers lead to 50-29 at intermission.
Palmer drained eight of Ripley's 12 shots from beyond the arc and finished with a game-high 26 points. Pearson added 17 points.
"We were very fired up, and I was just feeling it" said Palmer of his sharpshooting. "There had been a lot of talking back and forth."
Josh Girley led four Cougars in double figures with 15 points. Michael Culver added 14, Jacob Girley 12 and McClinton 10.
Afterwards, Head Coach David Mason thought his team was prepared but overmatched.
Isaac Bails scored 12 points, and Canaan Ratliff and Anfernee Rutherford 10 apiece for Ripley.
(G) Ripley 62, Walnut 49: The Lady Tigers got 17 points from Jayla Chills and 12 points each from Matavia Cox and Becca Ruckes to claim their fourth consecutive girls' championship. Presley Pulse and Becky Robinson paced Walnut with 14 point apiece.