Thursday, February 24, 2011
On road for basketball
I guess you could say I was basketball crazy last week.
It started Monday evening, Feb. 14, and I was attending a game or games every night through Saturday.
Monday, I was in Grenada for the Marshall Academy Patriots’ win over Simpson Academy for the North AA championship.
Tuesday, I was at Holly Springs High School. The Hawks opened Class 3A North State play with a win over Leland.
Wednesday was the toughest trip of the week – to Brookhaven and back in a day. The Patriots had their first game in the Class AA State Tournament. It’s four hours down there and four hours back.
We won, and after the game, we enjoyed a meal with our daughter Emma, who drove a lot shorter distance from the University of Southern Mississippi, before heading home. It was the first of three victory meals together.
Thursday, I decided to hit two games in one night at different locations – first the H.W. Byers boys in Class 1A North State at Okolona and then the Byhalia Lady Indians in Class 4A North State Pontotoc. Both won.
The hospitality at Okolona was some of the best I’ve experienced. First, they made sure I had one of the tournament programs. Lots of places do not even pass out printed rosters for tournament play. That’s a shame. At Okolona, they were organized.
And after I had been there only about five minutes, a school representative walked up to me and said, “Sir, we’re glad to have you. Would you like to have something to drink? You are welcome to visit our hospitality room.”
At most tournament sites, the sign on the hospitality room door says, “For coaches and administrators.”
Most of the time, I go for a drink or food anyway. But it’s always nice to be invited.
At Pontotoc, the gym was packed when I arrived – largely because the host Lady Warriors were finishing up their game. I sat on the bottom row of the bleachers and noticed a familiar face in one of the chairs near the court. Eddie Moore, a good friend from my days in Fulton, is now the principal at Pontotoc High School. Eddie was in the meat processing business when I was in Itawamba County, but later went back to school, started teaching and then became an administrator. He is in his first year at Pontotoc, always one of the top schools in the state academically.
Then Friday, it was back to Brookhaven. The Patriots and their supporters enjoyed a huge victory party Saturday night after winning the state championship.
All the time, I was texting folks with MA scores and they were sending me the scores from our other teams’ games.
Other than the Patriots’ first-place trophy, a couple of things stood out at Brookhaven Academy. One, a fan from another school asked a BA administrator Friday to make our student section sit down because they couldn’t see. But instead the coach made it clear to me that our students were just fine cheering, and the other person could move.
Saturday, when MA took the court for the title game, West Memphis, Ark., players formed a run-through line for the Patriots and clapped and cheered. They’re a fellow district opponent, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a wonderful show of class and sportsmanship.
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