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Pinecrest Academy inducts third class into HOF
From left, Kevin Metz, Bridget Camacho, Amy Camacho, Bryce Haynes and Joe Neiner were inducted into the Pinecrest Academy Hall of Fame on Saturday. Photo courtesy John Huynh

Joe Neiner has been involved with Pinecrest Academy for nearly the entire 21st century. 

He's coached teams, driven buses and is currently head of transportation and security for the school.

But if there's one year that sticks out to Neiner, it's the eighth-grade girls basketball team he coached in 2003.

"They had never played basketball before, and I didn't know that until after the first practice," Neiner said. "Then I had to ask them, I said, 'How many of you have played?' And only three raised their hands."

The team lost every regular-season game that year, but Neiner could tell his group was improving.

"Everybody went to the playoffs and we were seeded to played the top team that was undefeated, and somehow we beat them. And the girls thought they'd won the Super Bowl. That's one of my favorite teams, because me as a coach, I could see they were getting better, but we weren't winning. And then everybody said, 'They beat them?' It was great."

Neiner was inducted into Pinecrest's third hall of fame class on Saturday, along with Amy Camacho, Bridget Camacho, Margaret Cassandra, Bryce Haynes and Kevin Metz.

Amy Camacho helped usher Pinecrest into a new era when her 2010 squad became the school's first varsity team to reach the Georgia High School Association playoffs. 

She was named region coach of the year four times, and she led the Paladins to four region championships, three Final Four appearances and a state championship in 2009.

Amy Camacho was inducted alongside her daughter, Bridget Camacho.

"I would say it's like icing on the cake," Amy Camacho said, "because it kind of finalizes a great chapter in our lives."

Bridget Camacho was a key part of that 2009 team, as well as the Paladins' four consecutive region championships. 

She was named all-state three times and made school history when she signed to play at Virginia Commonwealth, becoming the first Paladin in school history to sign with a Division I program. 

"I think it is really cool to get the opportunity to go back to experience, but also to get an opportunity, I think, to honor my mom," Bridget Camacho said. "She did do a lot of work, and to be able to validate that and to share that moment with her to show it wouldn't have been possible without her, I think it's a really cool moment."

Bridget Camacho ultimately finished her collegiate career at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. 

Margaret Cassandra became the volleyball program's fourth player inducted into the hall of fame, joining Leanne Cassandra, Christi Cassandra, Margaret Cassandra and Bridget Camacho. 

Margaret Cassandra also played basketball and soccer, becoming the school's first girls basketball player to score 1,000 career points. 

Bryce Haynes also played three sports for the Paladins before signing to play football at Ohio State, where he helped the Buckeyes to a national championship in 2014. 

Haynes played basketball and competed in track and field, helping the Paladins' basketball team to the quarterfinals in 2010. 

Kevin Metz played basketball, football and soccer at Pinecrest, serving as captain for all three, including in 2010 when he helped the Paladins's soccer team to its first state championship. 

Metz was named all-region twice in basketball and football, and three times for soccer. 

"The thing I go back to first is the early athletes that started the programs," Neiner said. "And we came in kind of on their tails, but it was the 2002-03 to about 2009, and those kids just hung together. We were shorthanded in almost every sport, and they paved the way for when we started.

"We were able to take teams and be really competitive, and we won some championships. But if wasn't for that first group that hung in there when a lot of their friends left after eighth grade, and we kept hearing so many times 'I'm going to go to a real high school,' but those core people — I always go back to them. They are the real heroes."