Terrell Academy's basketball team recently broke the record for consecutive wins to start the season, winning their 10th straight game. It caught my eye because it was my senior year's team that held the record of nine straight wins. We lost the 10th game to Brookwood, who was also 9-0, in overtime.
We weren't the best team TA ever had, but at least for a time we didn't know it. I played center, which is what happens when you are all arms and legs and 6-foot, 5 inches. I couldn't jump, dribble, shoot, rebound or play defense.
Other than that, I was the total package. We started five seniors.
Tommy Poupard began as starting point guard, but soon Ricky Carlson took over. Rick, to my knowledge, is the only guy to ever letter all four years in basketball, football and baseball. He was muscular, scrappy and tenacious.
He also couldn't shoot a lick. Didn't matter, because he could play D.
In the state tournament we first drew No. 1 Stratford, three times our school's size. They came on three Trailway buses. We came in one bus that if it had been one year older would have been in the Smithsonian Museum. We played them full-court press, man to man.
Carlson hunkered down so low to the ground, I thought he would wear a hole in the bottom of his shorts harassing their point guard every step of the way, pecking like a black bird at a flying crow. It was all the poor guy could do to get the ball across half court. Once across, he just wanted to get rid of the ball and rid of Carlson. Their offense sufficiently disrupted, we won by 4. Carlson single-handedly won the game. I don't think he scored a point.
Buster Herrington was shooting guard and from the wing deadly, if he didn't walk before he took the jumper. His claim to fame occurred at the Christmas tournament when he scored so much the first half that the other team ran a box-in-one on him in the second half.
William Williamson was one of the forwards. He had the sweetest set shot, from the corner, man has ever seen. His girlfriend left him a few days before the state tournament, and I guess she took the shot with her. It didn't really matter, he still scored, with the cheerleaders that is, who all thought he was the next Elvis. All these years later, I think he's still scoring with the cheerleaders.
Cal Prescott was the shooting forward. He'd shoot it from anywhere. Might not go in, but by God he'd shoot it. He was 6 feet, 4 inches, overweight, kinda soft, slow, couldn't jump and looked like a left tackle more than a basketball player. Didn't matter, he had the purest shot you'll ever see. He was also the dirtiest player I've ever seen. Mattered not to him how you won, just so long as you won. On more than one occasion, he carried the team all by himself. Two years later, the team would carry him from a small town church to a cold black hearse, life swept away by a tractor trailer. He was, I suppose, my best friend. Someone once said time heals all wounds. Someone lied. Thirty-three years later, I still miss him.
Next, we played Westville in what I now understand was the final four. We'd never heard of such a thing at the time. They went up by 12 early, so we full-court pressed again, went up by one, but two nights of full-court press proved too much and we faltered late. Westville, with two division-one prospects, pulled away and so it ended.
Boys, enjoy every second of your life's springtime, 'cause soon will come the fall and then the winter. You'll be left with but a memory. Make it count. Make it sweet. Make it matter.
Contact columnist T. Gamble at email@example.com.