MOULTRIE – “This group of boys have so much fun together,” said head coach of the Packers basketball team Andy Harden. “They like to hang out and spend time together outside of the court.”
This proved true Wednesday night when the varsity team gathered for their end of season banquet.
From the moment it began to the moment it concluded, the boys were constantly giggling, playfully jabbing at each other and always had big smiles on their faces.
The initial reason the banquet was scheduled so far out from the last game of the season was because the team requested a pool party.
Unfortunately, after getting everything scheduled, liabilities prevented the intended evening from proceeding.
“It would have been easy to say it fell apart and now it’s too late to do a banquet,” said Harden. “But, you can either make excuses or make things happen.”
Well, Harden chose to make things happen.
The location moved to the Willie J Williams cafeteria and the dinner was provided by Why Not BarBQ and More.
In addition to each player receiving their season certificate, individual awards were presented.
The two seniors, I’Marius Bussie and Calvin Washington, each received a senior award for their leadership.
“Good manners and morals can take you further than an education,” said Harden. “Both these boys were always, ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’ and could always be counted on.”
The Student Athlete Award was presented to Mathew Bryant and Tyshon Reed.
“Bryant is always sitting at the table during breaks working on his homework, and Reed took the summer off basketball to go to a math and science camp,” said Harden. “Thank you for what you do in the classroom. School needs to come first.”
Four Packers were given the honor of being selected for the all region teams.
“I am not allowed to vote for my kids for All Region,” said Harden. “They get nominated because other coaches vote for them.”
Reed won honorable mention.
“He is going to graduate early this year and has the chance to better himself and his family,” said Harden. “You can’t pass up the opportunity for a free college education. He is destined for great things, it’s how he’s built.”
Getting on the second all region team was Jakari Byrd.
“Because he is a sophomore sometimes he can be laid back,” said Harden. “But at the end of the day he had some big games and continued to improve all season. He can be very aggressive and will be a big piece of the puzzle.”
Bussie received another plaque when he was awarded the 1-7A All Region Player of the Year.
“He came to us in December after the football season,” said Harden. “He was almost the offensive player of the year but didn’t make it. During the season, he was always someone I could count on to take the burden.”
Hoping to continue with basketball in college, Harden is going to try to help Bussie achieve that goal.
The final all region award was presented to Cason Harden, who received newcomer of the year.
“As a ninth grader coming in, that can be tough,” said coach Harden. “Asking a 14 year old to compete against 17 and 18 year old’s. They are mentally and physically different. He just sponged it up.”
Coach Harden sees the value in coaching, and is proud to see his boys make accomplishments.
“When you have the opportunity to coach your own son there are some good and some bad that comes from it,” said coach Harden in reference to Cason joining the varsity team this season. “I find it very special to have that bond with him. And when I can do that for other parents’ kids I truly don’t take that for granted. I thank all the parents for allowing me the chance to be in their sons’ lives.”