Roughnecks' second-straight championship unites community
By Jimmy Carter firstname.lastname@example.org
March 11, 2013 at 11 p.m.
Levi Yancy and Skylar Sutton heard the whispering behind their backs.
The White Oak senior basketball standouts were working a team hotdog fundraiser at a home baseball game when two young boys walked up behind them and started talking quietly to each other.
"Is that, is that Levi? The tall one?" one of the kids whispered.
Yancy had the hood of his white Nike jacket on, but his 6-foot-7 frame towered over the kids and the 6-foot tall Sutton. Still, the kids were skeptical.
"No, dude, that doesn't even look like him," the second kid responded. Unsure, they walked away.
Yancy and Sutton shared a laugh and continued to watch a TV showing footage of White Oak basketball games. The kids were back moments later.
"I really think that's Levi," the first kid said insistently, but still in a lowered voice. Then Yancy turned around.
"There he is, that is him," they yelled excitedly, finally approaching the players. Yancy and Sutton spent the next few minutes signing autographs and talking to the two admiring fans.
"It's just a huge blessing to be able to be good at basketball and have that influence," Yancy said. "We just thank God for the opportunity to be here. God puts you on the platform."
The meeting will likely be a special memory for the two kids. Yancy and Sutton helped give the White Oak fans and community plenty memories during their playing careers.
Four days after the baseball game, the duo helped lead the Roughnecks to their second consecutive Class 2A state championship in a 56-54 win over No. 5 Brock, a game won on a last-second runner by point guard Kris Anderson, the third member of White Oak's big senior trio and the state tournament MVP.
The thrilling finish and successful title defense capped a dominant two-year stretch of White Oak basketball that made E.B. Carrington Gymnasium a place to be for the community. The Roughnecks compiled a gaudy 74-2 record the last two seasons, going undefeated in district both years and asserting themselves as the dominant 2A team.
"I always dreamed of winning one, but two is just, I didn't really think about that," Sutton said. "Like coach (Ron) Boyett said, thousands of players and coaches have the same dream as us. But God blessed us and we've been fortunate to have some successful years here. For that we're forever thankful."
Sutton played a big role on both championship teams, while Yancy and Anderson were on varsity for each of the last three seasons and helped White Oak go 104-6 in the most successful span in Boyett's 22 years at the school.
Roughneck basketball has become a community-wide staple largely because the program is a close-knit group with different generations of families coming through it over the years.
Boyett is a White Oak graduate. He played with Anderson's father, Clifford, in the mid-1980s.
Sutton and younger brother Slade were key starters on the team this year and their sister, Cayman, was a freshman starter on the girls' varsity team. Their father, Kevin, is a member of the White Oak all-century team and played in the early 1980s, while their grandfather, Freddie, was a member of the 1957 state title team.
Assistant coach Billy Terry and his younger brother, Cody, played for Boyett in the 1990s. Junior guard Cass Carr is the younger brother of lettermen Chris, Colby and Caleb, who was the 2012 state tournament MVP.
"It's kind of getting to the point where a lot of the guys I went to school with have kids coming around," Boyett said. "There's probably eight to 10 pairs of brothers I've coached."
As a result, the trips to the state tournament in Austin were surrounded by a great deal of hoopla the last two years. The players got a send off from the high school Thursday morning, then made stops at the middle school and elementary school.
Kevin Sutton missed the send off to attend the first day of state tournament action last year. He made sure he didn't miss it again this year, staying to watch his sons and their teammates take part in a farewell that included part of the high school band, pictures, autographs and lots of high fives.
"It's pretty emotional," he said. "I saw several moms tearing up. Kids are coming up to the players all screaming. At the very end they get on the bus and took off. It's a pretty neat experience."
The White Oak community wasn't far behind the bus.
Roughneck fans more than filled their section of Texas' Erwin Center despite being one of the smaller schools in the tournament. They outdrew fans from 4A and 5A powerhouses while the "MoJoes" student section created a loud environment during games.
The turnout didn't come as a shock to the players. They've grown used to it.
"The White Oak community loves basketball," Skylar Sutton said. "I just think they love it so much because of the way we play. We give God the glory during the game. We're just humble athletes. That's the kind of basketball people want to see."
Sutton, Yancy, the rest of their teammates and their coaches will receive their second state championship ring in a few months.
They can probably expect to sign a few autographs at the ceremony.
Follow Jimmy Carter on Twitter @jicartersports