It helps to have special players to get a team to where they want to go as well. Sometimes players do things after the game is over that makes you feel they are even more special than you once thought.
Late Thursday night while working to get the story together concerning Dyer County's win over Craigmont, the phone rang with some news that left me leaning back in my chair with a 'wow' look on my face.
Following the 94-53 Choctaw win in the Region 7AAA title game, an All-Tournament team was announced. Not surprising were the names -- Robert Hubbs III, LaMarcus Mosley, Jamaal Ahmad and Markeston Bostic -- called from Dyer County.
However, what happened following the awards ceremony was a bit surprising.
Once the four names were called and Dyer County point guard Malik Pugh had not been one of those selected, tournament MVP Hubbs again proved to all that he is much more than a talented basketball player. He's simply a great person with maturity far beyond his years.
In the ultimate show of sportsmanship, Hubbs made his way to Pugh and presented him with his All-Tourney plaque, and with good reason.
Pugh finished Thursday's game with 11 points, connecting on 5-of-6 from the field. He also dished out eight assists and grabbed five rebounds to go with three steals while only committing two turnovers. In short, Pugh was very deserving of an all-tourney selection through these eyes.
Hubbs evidently saw things the same way and wanted to make sure Pugh got the credit he deserved.
"He (Pugh) really stepped up big for us in the third quarter and I didn't want him to leave without a trophy in his hand because he deserves it," said Hubbs. "I won the MVP award so I wanted him to have my all-tournament trophy."
As of today, I don't know how far basketball will carry Hubbs. Hopefully he will be a star at the University of Tennessee and continue to improve his skills to one day see his name in lights for some NBA team.
Right now, we just don't know because he's not there yet.
What I do know is that I've covered many, many high school players over the last 10 seasons, and I respect none more than I do Hubbs. I would have never met Robert if not for basketball, but after spending time talking to the young man, he will be successful in whatever he chooses to do in life.
While speaking with Hubbs late Thursday, we talked about past conversations we've had where he always talks about the team and their goals, not his. As it turns out, the dream of making it to the state tournament is now a reality for Hubbs and company.
"I've prayed about this and just asked God to lead us to this point, and He did," added Hubbs. "I can't even put it into words how I feel for my team to be headed to the 'Boro, but it sure does feel good."
Though we were on the phone I could see him smiling from ear to ear.
So, for the first time in five years, Dyer County will be represented at the state tournament in Murfreesboro. How far can the Choctaws go at the tourney? Only time will tell, but with a unit that genuinely cares about each other both on and off the court, the thought here is that when all is said and done the Choctaws have a great chance to return as state champions.
That's one trophy no one would ever give away.
See you in Murfreesboro.
Your comments are welcome at msmith@ stategazette.com