The Eagles are going to the state championship; a road which Senior Nyrek Wheeler said was paved with hard work and dedication.
“It was an emotional win,” Wheeler said of the Jefferson Forest match-up. “It has been a long road that took a lot of hard work and dedication. It feels like a lot of pressure is off our back with this win. A lot of people did not think we would get here and we did so it feels great.”
Playing basketball since he was in middle school, Wheeler said a growth spurt caused him to try out for the sport, having already become a competitive football player. Wheeler hopes to continue to play at the college level, favoring the defensive position.
A four-year veteran of the team Wheeler said defense can make or break a game, with the team’s communication being a huge strength.
“Shooting and closing out shooters are definitely strengths as well,” Wheeler said. “We have a strong bond and we work together well.”
Senior Shunta Wilson called the team a brotherhood, and commended his fellow player on their communication and loyalty.
“The win against Jefferson Forest felt great because we had a lot of revenge on them,” Wilson said. “There is a calmness about getting this far but the pressure isn’t gone yet.”
Consisting of nine seniors and six juniors, the majority of the team has been playing together for four years, which Wilson said allows for smoother communication and team work.
“This is the last year we will put this jersey on and we are working for something, to go to the state championship, not having been in 21 years, it feels awesome,” Wilson said.
Senior Carl Poole Jr. said years together has allowed the seniors to build trust in more ways than one.
“We have built trust in ourselves, trust in each other and trust in our coaches,” Poole said. “There is a whole lot of respect there.”
Poole said the road to the championship has been an inspiring one, one he will not soon forget.
“I am very excited, about the experience, the atmosphere, the fans, everything,” Poole said. “We could be the team that brings home the title. The hard work, the practices and the late nights, it has all paid off.”
Kapone Barley, a junior, also serves as one of the team captains, honored to be asked to step up as a leader.
“The seniors push us every day, to keep our head in the game, to be better student-athletes; they are supportive of us,” Barley said. “I have confidence in us. We are focusing on the now and what we can accomplish for our seniors, to send them out with a bang.”
Head Coach of the Eagles Jermaine Parker said the team has put in countless hours to get to this moment, the group’s motto being “Remain Humble, but Hungry,” with this reward making it all worthwhile.
“I am most proud of the guys not giving up on themselves and the relationships they have established with each other,” Parker said. “In the last few years the program hadn’t made it over the hump of Final Four, but this year they get an opportunity on the big platform, the last game of the year and that “SHIP”. They now realize that dreams can become reality. I am proud to say that I AM AN EAGLE!!!”