Oak Mountains’ senior season

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The eight seniors on Oak Mountain&8217;s boys&8217; basketball team have been through their share of challenges together.

From tough times on the court, to dealing with their coach&8217;s battle with cancer, it&8217;s no wonder that the squad shares sucha close bond.

Tyler Gallimore, Justin Luquire, Loy Vaughan, Bryant Gardner and Thomas Nordyke have anchored the team this season as the starting five. They are joined by Michael Pardo, Scott Johnson and Clay Grisetti, who have all seen their share of playing time in their final year.

Most of the players have been together since seventh grade, and all eight have been teammates since their freshman year, which which transalates into them knowing each other very well.

They&8217;ll tell you that Johnson is the hardest worker on the team.

&8220;Scott&8217;s like the Energizer bunny,&8221; Pardo said of his teammate. &8220;He just never stops moving.&8221;

They&8217;ll tell you that Vaughan is the ladies&8217; man, &8220;Because he has big muscles,&8221; and Pardo eats the most.

All eight players spend a good bit of time with each other off the court, which Gallimore said has helped make the team what it is today.

&8220;We&8217;re really good together,&8221; he said. &8220; We&8217;ve been together for so long that we know each other really well.&8221;

Head coach Jerry North seconded Gallimore&8217;s statements.

&8220;It&8217;s very evident how well they get along,&8221; North said. &8220;That&8217;s going to happen when you spend so much time with somebody. They have a lot of respect for each other.&8221;

There isn&8217;t a stronger bond between the players, however, than their love for their coach.

When North was diagnosed with cancer two years ago, the team came together twice a week before school to pray for him. They credit Johnson for helping them come together during the difficult time.

&8220;Scott stepped up and help us pray together during the week,&8221; Grisetti said. &8220;He really helped bring the team together.&8221;

The seniors said they admire their coach&8217;s will and are inspired by his strength.

&8220;He was real tough during the cancer,&8221; Vaughan said. &8220;He never missed a practice and even came on chemo days.&8221;

The Eagles will not pass up a chance, however, to poke a little fun at the ball coach.

&8220;He has these old sayings that we never get,&8221; Nordyke said.

The team is enjoying its best year in school history, boasting a 23-1 overall record and a 12-0 record in area play this season. They agree that this is the most enjoyable season they&8217;ve had as a team.

&8220;This season means something,&8221; Luquire said. &8220;We really have a chance to do something big.&8221;

The players said their senior season was jumpstarted when they defeated the Mountain Brook Spartans, 44-41, early on.

&8220;That&8217;s what started it all,&8221; Gallimore said. &8220;They were supposed to be the team to beat and we did.&8221;

Despite the team&8217;s success, North said his squad still has a lot to accomplish this season.

&8220;They&8217;re going to need to be very focused as we get down the road,&8221; he said. &8220;We&8217;re trying to get in the right mindset for the playoffs, but I think we definitely still have some work to do.&8221;