While a few hundred words bounced around my brain during my drive from Orleans to Crothersville High School, one stuck out above the others after the game.
The sleepy town awoke to a police and fire escort just before 11 p.m. Saturday night.
Parking spots were sparse, with Preston Street lined on either side with members of the community whooping and yelling.
After the bus pulled up to the gymnasium’s entrance, the first to emerge was junior varsity and varsity assistant girls basketball coach Chris Mains.
Mains held the trophy with one hand high in the air and the other wrapped around his daughter, Emma.
The players came next, hugging one another, laughing and screaming.
Then head coach Kevin Hensley made his way through; he shook every hand that came his way.
Preston Street emptied and the gym filled behind the team.
The entire right side of the gym was packed with fans, young and old, and the players and coaches sat in chairs behind a microphone.
Before the festivities, one of the students ran around the gym with a red flag donning the word “Tigers.”
Principal David Schill took to the mic first once everyone found their seats.
He first requested that everyone stand and bow their heads.
The crowd went dead silent, and together, they prayed.
Before celebrating their monumental accomplishment, they gave thanks.
Several members of the administration spoke in the ceremony including superintendent Terry Goodin and athletics director Greg Kilgore.
Seniors Madison Reynolds, Kashmir Kelshaw and Hensley all followed with short speeches along with Hensley.
Of all the comments made, one stood out above the rest.
“There were people from all around sending me texts,” Schill said. “On the way to school this evening, I received a message from Iraq from two 1996 graduates. Michael and Matthew Skeens who are deployed. They followed the girls all season and wanted them to know how proud they are of them.”
It’s more than a trophy.
For a small town like Crothersville, this sectional title has brought a tremendous sense of pride that extends the globe.
The 2016-17 Crothersville girls basketball team is why we love sports.
Impossible becomes possible, and dreams turn to reality in a few ticks of the clock.
The underdogs rise up and prove that they’re a member of the pack.
Before every basketball sectional, Arv Koontz and I sit down with each varsity coach and discuss the road ahead.
At 8 a.m. on a Saturday in January, I sat down with Hensley in his small office in the corner of the gym.
I asked him what it would mean to the school if they won this sectional.
“It would be unbelievable,” Hensley said. “Not just for the girls basketball program, but it would break the ice for all of the Crothersville programs.”
The ice has shattered. The Tigers are headed to the regional.