Stevens: Cougars believed in themselves
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on March 12, 2010 1:47 PM
Move over Hoosiers, here comes Goldsboro High School. Guided by their fourth head coach in as many years, the Cougars have written a script not even a Hollywood screenwriter could compose.
Three years ago, Randy Jordan stepped down after leading the Cougars to the sectional semifinals. The following season, Tod Morgan walked away for a job at Chapel Hill High School.
And last May, former head coach Chris Cherry accepted the opening at South Central HS. Cherry's departure burned the players, who learned of his resignation from either television or teammates.
Four Cougars, including junior point guard Devonte White, considered transferring in the offseason.
"Me and ReSean (Brewington) were thinking about leaving and so were two more players," said White. "We didn't know where we were going. We didn't think we were going to get into college without a coach getting our names out there. When the school told us they didn't know who was coming in as our coach we thought about leaving."
Despite the uncertainty of their respective futures, White and his teammates stuck together by playing in travel leagues throughout the summer.
Some of those worries about the program's future were put to rest in September when 29-year-old former Charles B. Aycock assistant coach Patrick Reynell was hired as Goldsboro's newest head coach.
In his first job, Reynell has guided the Cougars to a berth in Saturday's N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A state championship game against Monroe (31-1 overall). Goldsboro (23-7) has played for three state titles and won its only championship in 1998.
White admits the betrayal the Cougars felt when coach after coach walked out on them was never too far from their minds this season.
"When Coach Cherry left we were just shocked," said White. "We started playing summer basketball and stuck together. We were feeling sad and we felt like nobody wanted to coach us. Since Coach Reynell came, he's told us that we know each other better than he does and for us to just play with what we've got."
When Goldsboro takes the floor at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, most of the Cougars will be in one of college basketball's most-storied arenas for the first time.
As Michael Jordan's jersey hangs from the rafters it won't be X's and O's or a well-devised game plan that holds Goldsboro together in what's sure to be the biggest game most of its players have ever played. It will be the inseparable bond created through broken trust, uncertainty and an undying love for the game of basketball that keeps them composed for 32 minutes.
"We've got something to take care of," said White. "We've made it and I'm happy, but we don't want it to be just a fluke to get there. We're going to stay focused and think about everybody who didn't want to coach us. Our school always get so much bad publicity.
"It would feel great to do something positive and know we finished it out."
With no disrespect to Gene Hackman, Indiana high school basketball and Hollywood, win or lose on Saturday, Goldsboro's story is a heck of a lot better.
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