By JOSH FRYE
News Sports Writer
Thirty years ago, during the 1989-90 basketball season, the J.U. Blacksher Bulldogs captured an area basketball championship. They defeated the Frisco City Whippets during round one of the area tournament.
The Bulldogs advanced to round two, defeating Bayside to capture the 2A regional championship, then moved on to defeat Coffeeville at sub-state but fell to Coffee Springs during the sub-state final, 68-63. That loss ended their run for a state championship, and the Blacksher team has not returned since.
Thirty years is a long time for anyone to wait for anything, but the Bulldogs have been patient and finally broke the streak with a 44-40, February 8 win over Southern Choctaw in the AHSAA 2A Regional Championship to advance to the sub-state finals.
For any basketball team, the Final Four is the goal. For the Bulldogs that goal was met when they defeated Southern Choctaw on Friday, February 8.
That game made history for J.U. Blacksher in more ways than one.
It was standing-room only in the JUB gym, as the team drew its largest crowd since 1989.
The game was one of the most nail-biting events in the history of the school’s program.
The game started out with tremendous defense by both teams, and only 10 combined points were given up during the first period.
The gym erupted when Blacksher scored first with a shot from K.D. Rabb, but Southern Choctaw began to fire back and scored 8 points to end the first period.
Bulldogs head coach Wes Sims huddled his boys together during the intermission and created a new game plan. The Bulldogs knew they needed to gain some points during the second period and fought hard to do so.
Rabb registered 5 shots and missed 2 free throws during the second. J.T. Tucker and Gavin Banks added 2 points but it was not enough to catch the Indians, and the second period ended with Southern Choctaw still holding the lead, 17-11.
As the third period started, both sides of the gym erupted in cheers.
The Bulldogs started out strong but were having problems matching the Southern Choctaw offense.
After a timeout, the Bulldogs stepped up defensive pressure, generated offense and tied the game as the last seconds ticked away in the third period.
The teams fought tooth and nail in the final period, and for a few moments it seemed as if Southern Choctaw would have the upper hand. But the Bulldogs gained possession of the basketball and refused to let go. Careless fouls took the upper hand away from the Indians, and the Bulldogs took advantage and closed out the 4-point victory.
JUB’s players and coaches celebrated the win with their teammates and families as the gym erupted in a wall-trembling cheer. Coach Sims had water dumped on his head by the team he has fought so hard to help get to this point.
Rabb led the Bulldogs with 25 points; Gavin Banks had 9 points, 12 rebounds and 4 steals. J.T. Tucker added 4 points and 10 rebounds, and Bubba Nettles had 7 rebounds, 4 steals and 6 points.
The Bulldogs have their sights set on the goal that has never been achieved in school history, a state championship.
JUB hosted Chickasaw in the first round of the 2A Sub-Regional Finals Tuesday, February 12, at 7 p.m. for their chance to advance to Montgomery.