Hallsville Seniors "Goin' for Gold" in Final Season
Basketball is in Blaine Parker's blood.
The Hallsville Bobcats have seven seniors, five of which make the starting five, including Parker, who realizes this year just might be his last playing organized basketball.
"I can remember when I was 4," Parker recalls. "I got an indoor goal to go in the living room and I would sit there shooting. About the same time, my great aunt was a basketball coach. She coached at Kilgore College so I remember being with her quite a bit. Evelyn Blalock; she started the basketball program at KC. She won three national championships, that and my grandfather played college basketball."
However, college basketball isn't entirely out of the question for Parker who plans to attend ETBU.
"I'm not sure if I'm going to play baseball or basketball," Parker added. "Right now I'm committed for baseball so it's kind of a shock to think this could be my last year to play basketball ever. I talked to them (ETBU basketball coaches) and they said they're still evaluating."
Parker is less concerned about whether or not he'll play next year and more concerned about what happens this year. After all, this is the year he and his classmates have been looking forward to for several years now.
"Really we've been talking about this since our eighth grade year," Parker said. "Our eighth grade year, we finished third and we said, 'We can do something special when we're older, bigger and stronger.' We always had problems with T-High and Marshall because they were always so much more mature than us and now we're mature so I feel like we're all on the same playing field."
The Bobcats currently hold an overall record of 12-2 and Parker likes his team's chances of doing big things long term.
"Our theme is called, 'Going for Gold' whether it's winning a district title or winning a playoff game, we're trying to get that gold ball with our name on it so we can leave a legacy here in Hallsville.
"Our biggest strength is our hustle," Parker continued. "We hustle after loose balls. We're going to dive for them, the 50-50 balls. We're going for them."
Parker added his individual strength is "being a competitor," he said. "I hate losing. So if there's any way I can help prevent that, I'm all about it."
Rusty Walker is in his fourth year as head coach of the Bobcats and said Parker brings a lot to the table for the Bobcats.
"Blaine is a good leader for us," Walker said. "When you're a senior and you've already been a two-time First-Team All District Player and you've made the Best Preps Team last year, certainly you have great opportunity as a senior to continue to build on what you've done. Like we tell them, every year stands alone. You can't rest on the laurels of the past. We're still trying to gain some notoriety for the program and that's what all these young men are focused on. We don't have anybody who's just focused on himself. They push each other and hold each other accountable."
Walker adds that he hopes to send his senior class out on a high note.
"It is fun to be somewhere and you have your first class that were freshmen when you got here, so that's certainly rewarding, having these guys on the team and seeing them develop over the year and becoming the competitors that they are," Walker said. "I think the only thing I would call 'pressure' is I want to get it done for them. As the coach, I don't want to let them down by not pushing them hard enough or not doing my part. We try to not have bad days. We try to come in here and grind it out one day at a time. These guys, with their character, have allowed us to do that. It's been a good ride and we're trying to take it a step at a time and get ready for district."
District is slated to begin for the Bobcats Tuesday night when they play host to Mount Pleasant. Before that though, they first will play host to Chapel Hill in their final non-district contest today.
"Chapel Hill is quick and athletic," Walker said. "They've been playing tough. It will be a good game right before district. They're athletic and quick and they've got more size than they have in years past. They present a lot of issues that we'll have to be ready for."
Today's game against Chapel Hill is slated for a 4:30 p.m. tipoff, following freshman and JV.