With 30 seconds left, 99 points on the scoreboard and a packed stadium screaming for one final shot, most players would succumb to the pressure. But after an undefeated District 13-4A season and a 40-point lead on Senior Night, the McKinney North boys basketball team showcased what it had really been working on all year long: restraint, self-control and class. The Bulldogs took on Sherman High School Friday night and won their last home game of the season 99-53. While the game was far from close, those final moments displayed a level of maturity not often seen in high school sports.
North’s remarkable season, which will continue with the UIL playoffs in about a week, stems from a number of factors. Those include a strong senior class, but head coach Darryll Craft attributes most of the success to the personal growth of his players. Although he is proud of their achievements on the court, Craft is most satisfied with the young men he has helped grow into respectable and successful adults off the court.
“I think that’s bigger than any wins or losses you have, I hope they’ve learned to become men. They know what I expect from them and what I stand for,” Craft said. “Sure, everyone wants to score a 100 points, but what does that really say? I think the kids understand that. They know how to win and how to win the right way.”
The team knew how to win, to say the least, and had its fair share of prime time plays. The North student section, a court side slaughterhouse of rowdy teenagers eager to rush the court at any given moment, erupted more than once. One particular instance of college-level play saw senior Julion Pearre nail an alley-oop that would have left most NCAA players jealous. With the loud, uproarious student section a mere foot away from those on the court, it’s a surprise Sherman held on as long as it did. Although Pearre appreciates his classmates’ enthusiasm, he firmly believes in the morals his coach taught him and showed respect for his opponents until well past the final buzzer.
“We’ve always been taught to win with class. Nobody is out there to make anyone else look foolish,” Pearre said. “Right now we’re focusing on our team and what we have to do to make a run in playoffs.”
The post-game was everything you would have imagined following such a successful evening. Students rushed the court, the Bulldogs received a standing ovation and both boys and girls teams cut down the nets in celebration of their stellar seasons. Although the 40-point spread wasn’t much of a surprise and hardly warranted a court-rush from the North fans, it has been a pretty big year. And when you have a team that has shined brighter than their neon orange shoes all season, you have to give North and their fans a moment or two to celebrate.
Photos by Kellie Anfosso. Video by TSB’s Dylan Derryberry.