Shortly after several members of the Newberry High basketball team had ended its press conference at this state’s high school league office Monday morning, a van drove by that seemed to have just left Woodstock ’69 with a tribute painted on it to Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead.
This Saturday evening about 5:30, either the Bulldogs or the Gators of Lake Marion will be celebrating their school’s first ever state championship in boys’ basketball.
To use one of the Grateful Dead songs, there will be undoubtedly “Dancing in the Street” that night all over Newberry or Santee.
Head coach Chad Cary brought three of his starters with him to the event that included Jaylin Alexander, Kaheem Praylow and Jeremy Summers.
Cary agreed with Lake Marion head coach Roy Brown that both schools seem to be very similar on both sides of the court as they both choose to run the same type of defenses which include full court, zone or even man to man.
Lake Marion according to Brown likes to average scoring about 67 points a game.
For the season Newberry who likes to “play fast” according to Cary has averaged 81.8 points a game while allowing 61.9.
Last year Newberry found themselves trailing 18-0 in their eventual state title game loss to North Charleston. When asked as having been there already if the Newberry players would not have any nerves, Cary cannot tell until the game starts.
“We can’t control it,” he said in regards to nerves. “These are 17 and 18 year old kids and you don’t know how they are going to react. We are both fighting for that ring and we’ll find out if having already been there helps us or not.”
While coach Brown has had each of his two assistants seven years, Cary has had Adonis Hill for 12 years and Mike Hughes for nine.
“They are a great group,” said Cary of Hill and Hughes who are both Newberry High graduates. “When you have the consistency like we do, everybody is always on the same page. When I miss something, they pick up on it.”
When asked what it would mean to the Newberry community to win a state championship on Saturday, by no means does Cary want to enjoy it more than anyone else.
“This (championship) would be more for the kids and community than me,” he said. “It would be awesome as we have a hungry group of fans and community. It would be great for them as they have been long deserving for something like this.”
Outside of Lake Marion having a slight height advantage, Cary believes the Bulldogs and Gators are almost mirror images of each other.
“We are playing ourselves but a little bit smaller. It’s going to be a fun game to coach and for the fans to watch, “ he added.