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Stories Added March 2010
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Pirates take Regional Championship

Tyler County Booster

By Lou Roesch’s
Tyler County Booster Sports Editor

They say that sometimes history has a crazy way of repeating itself. On October 19, 1781, the British surrendered Yorktown to the Americans and history was made. Nearly 229 years later history would be repeated but this time it was on a basketball court at Delco Arena in Austin, Texas. Yorktown was once more on the losing end of history only this time instead of George Washington and the Continental Army dictating the terms of surrender it was Coach Calobe Isaacs and the Spurger Pirates in a 66-50 victory. The Yorktown Wildcats scored the first basket and the last basket of the game but not enough in as Spurger won the Region 3 Division 1A semifinal tilt. The win secured a berth in the regional final game against the Mumford Mustangs. The Wildcats gave the Pirates a game for the first five minutes of the contest before Chase McGallion delivered a baseline lay-up giving Spurger an 11-10 lead. It was the last time Yorktown would be this close. The Pirates silenced Yorktown’s big guns and opened fire with their own. George Whittaker, a junior post player for the Pirates enjoyed perhaps his finest game in a Spurger uniform dropping in a game high 33 points. The Spurger effort was a continuation of balanced scoring and tenacious defense something the Pirate’s faithful have become used to seeing over the last two seasons. Shutting down Yorktown’s inside firepower left the Wildcats defenseless to the waves of fastbreak Pirate attacks. Time and again Shain Rawls, George Whittaker and Daniel Blankenship cleaned the defensive glass, leading to one outlet pass after another to Chase McGallion who directed the Pirate attack with precision passing. The lead which was six after eight minutes of play ballooned into nineteen at halftime 37-18. In the second half, the waves of Pirate player’s pillaging and plundering the hapless Yorktown defense continued almost at will. By the end Yorktown’s big guns had fallen silent and Petey the Pirate(Ashley Hollier) was waving the victory flag once more. George Whittaker lead all scorers with 33 points while Shain Rawls added 11 points. McGallion and Blankenship each contributed 8 points to the winning effort. Jonathon Hutto threw in 4 points while Jarom Odom rounded out the scoring with 2 points. Much has been said about what it takes to be a champion; to go where no other Spurger team had gone before. A champion is one who acknowledges that he got there by climbing on the shoulders of those who passed before them. Only four Spurger teams have ever been to the regional tournament. Mike Minter and the “62” Pirates were the first to breach that barrier. The 07-08 Pirates led by Phillip Whittaker, Tanner Sheffield and Pate Sheffield extended the reach one more level reaching the regional finals before losing to Big Sandy. Last year’s Pirates(08-09) led by John Gossett and Kacey Collier along with the core version of the 2009-2010 Pirates reached the regional tournament. What was it though that helped this team make Spurger basketball history? Was it that the players wore maroon instead of white this time? Was it that they stayed in the locker room a little longer than usual? Was it the pre-game good luck phone call from Zumar Iraq and former Pirate player Cory Roesch? Was it Juli Golden holding up a sign reading We Believe? Maybe all those things played a small part but the biggest difference in this game was one word - HEART. The heart is the lifeline of a champion. The heart of a basketball champion never stops ticking and for 32 minutes. As smoothly as it distributes energy and determination so goes the team. The two teams played fairly even in the opening minutes of the game, the heartbeat was strong and clear. Midway through the first quarter Spurger’s George Whittaker exited the contest in early foul trouble and sat for nearly 7 minutes of the first half. The loss of Whittaker could have meant total heart failure for the Pirates instead Chase McGallion, Daniel Blankenship, and Christian Norsworthy made sure the heartbeat maintained a steady healthy rhythm. Thump! Thump! Thump! The Pirates never missed a beat. First it was Blankenship’s three from the corner putting Spurger on top 6-5. Another Blankenship basket extended the lead to 8-5. Moments later the heartbeat became even louder and clearer when Chase McGallion drove the baseline and while underneath the basket fed an almost impossible dish to Norsworthy who banked it in on off the glass igniting the crowd and clearing the arteries to victory as the Pirates led 10-6 with one quarter in the books. In the second quarter, the senior leadership over. Jonathon Hutto drained another Pirate trey, this time from the left corner to open the scoring at 7:43 of the second period. Daniel Blankenship then netted 7 of his game high 29 points as Spurger surged to a 20-17 halftime lead. You could feel the heartbeat getting even stronger when Petey the Pirate demoralized the Mumford fans when he took down the Mustang in a halftime mascot dance-off. In the third quarter, with the Pirate’s nursing a three point lead, McGallion took a Whittaker inbounds pass and let fly with a three point swish increasing the Pirate advantage to six at 27-21. Midway through the quarter, the heart of this champion was tested once more when Blankenship aggravated the rotator cuff injury to his left shoulder. Have no fear, Jarom Odom hit two big three’s keeping the Mustangs at bay. Blankenship would soon return to the court and nailed another three point shot at 1:01 of the third and then delivered the dagger to the Mustang heart with another three with only 40 seconds to play in the third. Eight minutes was all that separated the Spurger Pirates from history. McGallion who had directed the Pirates attack all season was not about to let this moment slip away. With the lead ballooning to twelve, McGallion’s play had the Mustangs confused as to what the Pirate’s offense might throw at them next. This was never more evident then with only 3:20 showing on the game clock, McGallion moved to his left and the entire Mustang defense moved with him leaving Whittaker alone at the top of the key for an easy drive to the basket. As the game entered its final stages, Coach Isaacs kept the team focused with a simple one word message - HEART. Thump! Thump! Thump! Mumford was on life support. The loudest sound in the gym when Blankenship nailed the final Pirate point of the game on a free throw was the heartbeat of a champion. Blankenship and the Pirates had pulled the plug on Mumford and their season. Spurger’s championship heartbeat was loud and clear. The 2009-2010 Pirates had climbed on the shoulders of those before them and not only reached the regional final but they took it one step further in becoming the regional champions. It was on Senior Jonathon Hutto clips a piece of Pirate history. to the final four.

Polk County Publishing Company