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Championship hoops reunion set for Saturday

SELMA – Saturday’s game between Southside High School and Selma High School doesn’t need much additional hype, but a special reunion event is going to provide some, nonetheless.

The 1985 state championship team from Southside will hold its 25-year reunion with the players introduced at halftime to what is expected to be a capacity crowd.

Jeffrey Bonner, who will be coming to the reunion from Las Vegas, said it wasn’t planned to be during the Selma game, but the timing worked out perfect.

“We just picked the weekend because we knew they had a home game and it worked out for everybody,” Bonner said. “Then we checked the schedule and saw they were playing Selma. That’s our biggest rival, and it was already going to be a packed house.”

The 1984-85 team had 11 players, and Bonner said eight of the nine who are still living are expected to attend as well as family members of the others.

Former players are expected to come back to Selma from Georgia, Texas and possibly Virginia.

Rodney Stevens, a member of the team who still lives in Selma, said the distance some of the team’s members will travel to attend shows the importance of winning the championship.

“As a team, we were very strong,” Stevens said. “We enjoyed each other. Seeing those guys together is going to be special. It’s going to be exciting to see the guys and recount and reminisce.”

The championship is the only one in Southside history, but the Panthers have made three other state championship games since then. Mickey Tyre was part of one of those teams, the year after winning the title as a junior.

“It was a moment we all cherished,” Tyre said. “Most teams had 14 or 15 players, and we were with 11. We were predicted to lose by 20, but we came out with a shocker.”

Stevens said he thought the 1983-84 team was the best of his high school career, but it ran into a good Keith High School team and didn’t make the state tournament. He also felt the same way about the 1985-86 team, but didn’t feel those teams had enough desire to win.

“Guys were more determined and had something to prove because they lost in the game to go to the state tournament,” Stevens said. “My sophomore year (’83-84) we were a better team talent-wise, but we had a lot more heart and desire (during the ’84-85 season).”

For Bonner the reunion is long overdue. He’s kept in touch with some of the players, but many of them he’s gone decades without talking to.

“We had an informal 20-year reunion, but this will be first official reunion,” Bonner said. “Some of these players I haven’t seen in 15 or 20 years. It’s something I’ve talked about for a long time. It was one of my proudest moments.”