By Bryan Davis
The West Point Green Wave basketball program will do battle with a district rival tonight, at home, against Saltillo. What should already be an emotionally charged game will be even more special, as five boys players and four girls players will be recognized during a pre-game senior night celebration.
The boys will be honoring Laquintis Robertson, Romeo Williams, Jamar Wicks, Jaquille White and Willie Edwards. The girls will be giving a nod to Kelsei Ewings, Chelsey Walls, Alexandria Morgan and Santonya Cantrell.
This is also a time when the parents of the seniors are recognized for their support as well.
For the coaches who coached these players over the years, the night is bitter-sweet.
“In my first year as an assistant, these guys were starting their tenth grade year,” said West Point boys head coach Brad Cox. “It’s not just being with them on the basketball court. Now I’m talking to these kids about where they’re going to college next year and what kind of jobs their interested in. That’s definitely a neat thing outside of basketball.”
Cox arrived on the scene three years ago as an assistant for the Green Wave. Some of his seniors had already been in the program for several years.
“Some of them have been playing since seventh grade,” Cox said. “When you think about the hours you put in during the summer and the weight room and a couple of hours after school practicing, that’s a lot of extra hours. They’ve dedicated themselves to basketball, and they’ve put a lot of hard work and time into this program.”
It’s the same for the girls, a group that has put many an hour on the court, during practice and in the game.
“It’s important because you want to pay tribute to them and what they’ve done for you,” said West Point’s girls head coach Jemmye Ann Helms.
The boys will be saying goodbye to their top scorer for 2010-2011, and a true team leader.
“Laquintis (Robertson) has been our leading scorer this year,” Cox said. “He’s been our go-to guy whenever we’ve needed a big bucket. He’s been the guy we’ve wanted to give the ball to. He’s carried us.”
White just completed something he’s had to do for two consecutive years. He
finished a 16-game football season, won a state title and dove right into basketball.
“To play 16 football games and win the state championship, it’s hard to come out again,” Cox said. “For him to come in and keep working hard, and buying into basketball again, that says a lot about how much he cares about basketball and the guys on this team.”
Cox says that Williams is a team captain who will be missed as well.
“He’s been one of our captains all year long,” Cox said. “He’s one of our best defenders, if not our best defenders.”
Cox says that players like Edwards have put in tireless efforts during practice to make the Green Wave program better on the court.
“He practices so hard,” Cox said. “He never has a bad practice, and he never has a bad attitude. He’s always positive. That makes us the better team.”
Wicks was one of the first West Point players to buy into the program’s new strength conditioning.
“He worked so hard in the weight room, and got so much stronger, it rubbed off on the rest of the team,” Cox said. “He would want to work with a different person, every time we were in the weight room, just to help them get better. He was the leader in the weight room for us.”
The girls will also be saying good by to their leading scorer in Ewings, who has consistently put up big numbers for West Point.
Helms said that when it comes to these seniors, however, that it’s been a total group effort.
“They have played for me the entire time I’ve been here,” Helms said. “They work hard and sacrifice a lot. Mine go through punishment and everything else to play.”
After the festivities, these seniors will be asked to lead their teams, on the court and from the bench, to an important sweep over the Tiger program. The pre-game ceremony will happen just before the 6 p.m. start of the girls game tonight.