LAVACA — The basketball journeys of Lavaca’s Kolby Glidewell and Luke Watson read like a Hollywood script. Small town kids who came together to do what had never been done in the history of the program.
They will now have the chance to write the final chapter, coming out of “retirement” at the Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star Boys basketball game at 3 p.m. today in Conway.
Glidewell and Watson also know the head coach very well from their last game. It will be Lavaca’s coach, Renner Reed, who will lead the Western team.
“They’re both already in the squad so hopefully we’re not in too much shape,” Reed said of his players with a laugh. “It’s their last game. They’re not going to play at the top level. They can represent their school once again. It means a lot to them and to me too. They’re ready for it. We’re going to have a great time and take one last turn.”
Glidewell and Watson played big roles in Lavaca (35-2) winning its only state championship last season. Each earned all-state honors and played their part at a high level. Glidewell, named the Class 2A State Tournament MVP, averaged 14 points and 6 rebounds. He raised his game when it mattered most, finishing with 22 points per game in the state tournament. Watson, the team’s top defenseman, averaged 13 points and 7 rebounds per game.
“Those guys winning a state championship put us on that big stage,” Reed said. “But it started with being nominated. It started at conference meetings. These guys with their careers have earned the right to be here. Representing Lavaca as a school and the community is a great honor. Families are really excited about it.”
Count Reed among those eagerly waiting to brief you at the Farris Center on the University of Central Arkansas campus. He dreamed of being in the All-Star Game when he was growing up.
“I don’t think there’s a greater honor than being nominated by your coaching peers,” Reed said. “A lot of great coaches have done that in the past. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s going to be a great event. The guys we picked are really good basketball players. I remember when I I was young, I used to go to the all-star game every year. I couldn’t play there, but now I can coach there. It’s pretty nice.
Glidewell and Watson along with fellow seniors Drake Grantham and Avery Walker were in sophomores when Reed took over the Lavaca program 10 years ago. The beginning of it all for some members of the group dates back to playing peewee basketball together. Over the years, Lavaca knocked on the door of setting up a league season, but he was finally able to finish the job with this group.
It was quite a title chase for Lavaca, who reached the championship game for the first time since 1981. The Golden Arrows bounced back from a loss to Eureka Springs in the 2A-West Regional Finals to pull off four straight wins in the state tournament in impressive fashion. The Golden Arrows have beaten four state tournament opponents 214-139 and have held three of four to 34 points or less. A 13-0 run in the third quarter helped Lavaca put up the title game against Magnet Cove. Glidewell and Watson played a big part in that scoring streak both in attack and defense.
“Besides the moment when we actually won it, my favorite moments are thinking about it all with the players,” Reed said. “It’s so fun to talk about. There’s always excitement. It’s nice to remember that we finally made it and broke through. We’ll have all those memories forever. These guys have worked so hard at the moment, and they have enjoyed it.”
If Reed could turn back time, he said he’d like the championship group to meet on a pitch anyhow one last time. Reed won’t quite get the full experience, but the All-Star Game is the next best thing with the chance to be side-by-side with Glidewell and Watson again.
“I would like to have just one last practice with this team,” Reed said. “Everything as a unit. But it’s pretty special. It’s really humbling for us. I’m in this because of my players. I’m not going to be a star coach or a champion of state without my players. It’s an honor to be with these guys one last time.”