MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

March 26, 2014

COLUMN: Trophy in hand, Lady Tigers work to obtain champ jewelry

FORT GIBSON — Give Allie Glover credit for trying.

A re-enactment of her state tournament heroism would have been enjoyed by the 250 or so supporters of Fort Gibson’s repeat Class 4A state champions gathered to celebrate that fact Tuesday.

It was Glover’s 27-foot jump shot —an NBA-range 3-pointer — with 3.2 seconds to play that gave the Lady Tigers the 50-47 win against Anadarko, capping a rally from 16 points down. In the comforts of Harrison Field House, and in preparation the night before those assembled arrived, she tried.

“I air-balled,” she said.

Everything in its time, and for the third time in four years, it’s Fort Gibson’s time to raise funds for championship rings.

It’s an unfortunate aspect of success. Tight budgets require various school organizations to reach to the community for support. The work done on the hardwoods wasn’t enough. Hence, the gathering to bid on various raffle items and to watch a replay of the historic fourth-quarter rally.

“The first time we had plenty of money, the second time kids had to come up with money out of their pockets,” said FGHS coach Jerry Walker. “I think the more you do it the more the special wears off but at the same time, times are tough and we’ve got a swimming team that has had an incredible run too.”

But it wasn’t just parents and family members of supporters there Tuesday. Young kids watching this success are loading the wings of this jet for years to come, building on the tradition of 10 consecutive state tournament appearances.

Then there’s fans like Charles Sallee.

He and his wife Patsy have been attending Lady Tiger games for 14 seasons. The past three, he’s done so while in a courageous battle with cancer, missing just five games over that span.

“My wife and I have always loved the kids. We have about 20 grandkids and great grandkids and we just love kids,” he said. “Whatever we can do for them helps us go through life.”

The team’s lone senior, Savannah Gray, surprised Sallee during the ceremony with a replica gold ball from the championship game he attended at State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City. He said he would put it where he has the team’s trophy from the Inola tournament championship won earlier this year.

Walker cherishes people like Sallee.

“You appreciate the people who by their own choice show up here to support us,” he said. “I think one thing that encourages them to do so are the type girls they come to see. There’s no jerks here. If they were jerks off the floor, people wouldn’t want to be around them.”

And that’s an element of the dynasty that Walker wouldn’t trade, not even for a three-peat or looking a step further, four consecutive championships no girls team at any level has accomplished. Sequoyah, once the power of the area, came within a possession of doing it.

But with 10 straight trips under their belts, and all but Gray returning next season, celebrations like this are becoming a habit.

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