Randolph-Clay boys basketball coach Oglesby Jackson said he planned to "pray" for the players from Wilcox County who were involved in a fight that led to the Patriots forfeiting their first-round game against the Red Devils on Friday.
CUTHBERT — Randolph-Clay boys basketball coach Oglesby Jackson called it a “blessing,” but added he’ll be praying for every young man on the Wilcox County basketball team.
This after the Patriots’ head coach, George Kennedy, called Jackson and Red Devils administrators Friday morning and informed them his team — ranked No. 6 in the Class A state poll — would be forfeiting its first-round state playoff game because of an off-campus issue that forced the school to suspend nine players, leaving the Pats with just three.
While Wilcox officials initially refused to say what happened, the Cordele Dispatch later reported that the players had been involved in “gang activity” that led to a fight.
“Gang activity will not be tolerated at Wilcox County High School. Period,” Wilcox County principal Chad Davis told The Dispatch. “From this point on, anyone caught in any gang activity will no longer go to school here. It does not matter who you are.”
The AJC reported that it is the first pregame forfeit in a state tournament since 1941, according to the Georgia Basketball Project.
The forfeit means Jackson’s team now advances on to the Sweet 16 — where R-C lost last year — against Taylor County on Wednesday. And while Jackson said he hated to move on this way, the Red Devils will play on proudly.
“We feel like it’s a blessing — like (legendary Randolph-Clay coach Joe Williams, who died late last year) was looking down on us from above,” Jackson said. “But at the same time, we will pray for those young men (from Wilcox). We hope nothing happened that will affect them the rest of their lives.
“We just gathered our players and told them that this is a lesson to always do the right thing off the court, no matter what.”
Jackson said the extra time will help the Red Devils prepare for a tough next opponent.
“We’ll practice (today) and Sunday — but only after we go to church,” he said. “We need to give thanks and pray for those young men.”