Front row (L-R): Jarvis Turrell, Lamarius Martin, and Trey JonesBack row (L-R): Grady Willis-Escobar, Keondre Sewell, Rufus Townsend, Alex Hardy
Josh Farmer, Johnny Jones, Daijon Penamon, Jan Lowe and William Aric Sowell
The tradition of basketball is still alive and well in the Apalachicola community. Neither the building of a new school nor consolidation could squelch or kill the tradition, because some traditions just never die.
Basketball has dominated prep sports in Apalachicola, especially in the Black community dating back to the late 1930s and early 1940s when Freddy Fagan, Charlie Price and Marion and Johnny Watson tore up the outside basketball court at Dunbar High School.
That tradition continued through the years as teams from Apalachicola dominated the sport at both Wallace M. Quinn and Chapman High Schools, but the mantle stopped and rested upon the shoulders of basketball players at Apalachicola High School up until consolidation.
The tradition has been revived due in part to a public-private partnership between the City of Apalachicola and Kids United Together, Inc., where the former home of the Apalachicola Sharks basketball teams, also known as the Matchbox has been renovated as a youth center.
This past Saturday, a group of kids from the center led by head coach Tydron Wynn and assisted by J.T. Escobar, a University of Mississippi basketball recruit from Tallahassee, put on the old Blue and Gold and traveled to Sneads to participate in a 14 and under boys’ basketball tournament coordinated by Allyson Speed.
The team first held an overnight retreat Friday inside the Matchbox and was treated to dinner and breakfast by Helen Willis-Escobar, President of Kids United Together, Inc., before traveling to Sneads Saturday morning.
The Sharks felled behind early during the tournament losing their first two games before digging themselves out of the losers bracket by racking up two consecutive wins. The team won their fourth game in overtime, which hurled them unrested into the championship game against Elevate, a well-rested team from Tallahassee.
The Sharks we’re up 19 to 16 with 12 minutes left to play against Elevate, and led the game up until the last 49 seconds, but came up short by 1 point to lose the contest 26 to 25.
“They played really well and the team they played had been resting for two hours and played less games”, said Helen Willis-Escobar. “The Sharks played hard and I’m really proud of them”
The team did manage to capture and bring home second place in the tournament, but most importantly the tradition of basketball in Apalachicola lives on.