Despite the prevailing wisdom that an athlete should have a short memory when it comes to wins or losses, successes and failures, most would tell you there isn’t much that they forget.
Count the eight football players on Central’s basketball roster among those with memories like elephants.
The significance in their upcoming opponent in the Class 7A state championship basketball game on Saturday is not lost on them. They remember clearly 26-21 loss they suffered at the hands of McGill-Toolen in the football semifinals in November.
Players have talked about it, and make no mistake, revenge will be a factor when they suit up on Saturday.
“We’ve been thinking about it since we got to the final four,” said Quan Weaver, a reserve on the basketball team who served as Central’s quarterback in football for most of the season. “We want revenge. We know we were supposed to be in the state championship in football, so we’ve got to redeem ourselves.”
“They beat us in football, man,” Keiondre Jakes, who plays guard in basketball and wide receiver in football, said. “I want it bad. I’m starving for it.”
The motivation to get a win against a school that ended their season in another sport will certainly play a part for these two-sport stars. The same physical skills they use in football will make a difference, too.
Take Markail Benton, for example. He laughed and nodded his head when presented with the notion that he’s, in a way, playing linebacker when he’s on the basketball court. He’s relied upon as a defensive specialist, using his big, physical frame to bully opposing players on the low post. That’s how Central was able to limit Spain Park’s 6-foot-10 star Austin Wiley on Thursday.
“Every big man we play against, I play against them and Tionne (Williams) plays on the other side,” Benton said. “Just my body. When I can put my body on them, they’ll get weaker. Basketball players, not too many of them are big like that.”
Weaver said his athleticism has served him well in both sports.
“Running the floor like I was running in football,” he said. “Great foot work. I make cuts like I’m playing receiver. The only difference is I’m on the court and not on the field.”
Other players on the basketball roster who played on the football team include Demarkus Lampley, Karon Delince, Justyn Ross, Japaris Vaughn and De’Anthony Miles. And they all share the same sentiments about Saturday’s game.
“Words can’t even explain how much I want to play these guys,” Weaver said.