HALLSVILLE - Hallsville's boys basketball team has five seniors: Brendarian Dawson, Chris Timberlake, Blaine Parker, Brendarian Dawson and Matt Mowery, and they make up the starting five.
"I've never had that since I've been coaching and I've been coaching a long time," Hallsville head coach Rusty Walker said. "I've never had five that needed to start. I've got five seniors and they all start."
The five seniors have a goal to go out with a bang in their final season as Hallsville Bobcats.
"I think this whole year is 'Going for Gold' and winning a playoff game would definitely complete that goal," Mowery said.
"A highlight, for me, I would say last year when we made the playoffs," Timberlake added. "We hope to go back-to-back. That would be the first time in a while."
Also, in the days that remain for them at Hallsville, the five seniors are hoping to leave a mark.
"We have worked real hard to create an idea in our program of leaving a legacy," Walker said. "Every year we've tried to have a theme of the year. Our first year here in Hallsville, it was 'A New Beginning.' We didn't win a lot of games because it was a new beginning. Then the next year it was called, 'On a Mission.' The mission at that point was to gain some respect. We didn't put up a large number of wins or anything like that but we went 7-7 in district and we finished strong. Then the following year, last year, it was 'Reaching Higher.' We decided this year it would be, 'Going for Gold.'
That term, Walker says, applies for both on and off the court.
"Certainly there are end-of-season results that we hope to have but we hope that we go for gold every day," Walker continued. "We hope that we carry ourselves with a championship attitude and a legacy attitude, an achievement attitude every day. That's been our message is, 'Hey look, you're not trying to reach a destination. You're trying to do a little bit every day and that's what makes winners.' These kids have bought into for a long time."
When asked what the team's greatest strength was, the seniors all agreed it was being able to play as a team. When asked about their individual greatest strengths, Mowery said, "Effort, trying all the time taking charges, going for the ball."
The other four seniors gave one word answers.
"Hustle," Parker said.
"Determination," Timberlake added of himself.
"Aggressiveness," Dawson said.
"Composure," Fitzpatrick added, only to hear his teammates respond by saying, "Let's just say passion."
"Here's the thing about our group," Walker added. "We have very collective leadership. They push each other. All of them are unique in their own way but they compliment each other well. Their personalities compliment each other. They're also a very intelligent group so you're able to game plan and have a chance to execute some things because they're mature and they pay attention."
"Hallsville has never been known for basketball, ever. We're still trying to get respect but at least now they're like, 'Oh it's Hallsville, we can't just take it easy,'" Parker said.
"These guys were freshmen, part of our first freshman class," Walker said. "These guys along with the kids who were sophomores when we got here, they got us over the hump a little bit. We never think we're going to get there. Everybody is going to try to keep going to the mountain but we're never going to say we got there. We never want to give that impression because you are what you are and you're only as good as you are right now. Where we're at right now, we're going to keep trying to get another notch, and another notch.
"We appreciate our seniors but we're really going to appreciate them when they're gone because you sit back and say, 'I wish I still had so and so," Walker continued. "This group will really be like that. The ripple effect will still be there, just like last year's seniors. Definitely we'll miss them. They're grinding it trying to get our goals accomplished."
The Bobcats currently hold an overall record of 19-7 and a District 16-5A record of 3-3. They are slated to return to action tonight when they travel to Mount Pleasant. They will return home Friday to play host to Greenville.