A few years ago, during a conversation with my friend John Williams, we reminisced about the Lady Stars’ splendid run to the school’s first state basketball championship.
John insists that while the controversial consolidation of county high schools began in 1974, it wasn’t truly realized until Pete Pritchett and his ‘83 Stars took the state by storm, illustrating what community teamwork and unity can render.
That ‘83 team owns a special place in this old heart. Not only did that squad ooze talent, those kids pulsed with personality.
The composition of that team was ideal, a coach’s dream. Kelly Fitzgerald, a little lefty capable of dribbling through a car wash without getting wet, paired with Tina Boruff, arguably the best pure shooter in school history.
Bobbi Lovell, the anchor in the middle, was flanked by Cheri Farrell, a true power forward, and Lu Anne Sargent, the versatile guard-forward Pete described as his “glue.”
The bench, talented and deep, featured Amy Morron, a skillful sharpshooter with ice in her veins.
Though regularly teased by cohorts for covering girls basketball games, I looked forward to every minute shared with Pete and his special gals.
My memories are many and varied. First, I acquired — albeit reluctantly — an appreciation for the country music group Alabama. When the Stars weren’t shooting, they were singing ... and it was always something by Alabama.
Sargent, aka Poovey, was the squad’s stand-up comic and entertainer extraordinaire.
Each time I’d ask Lu Anne for a quote she’d giggle and say, “Just make something up; make me sound good.”
Leslie Thompson, another laugh-a-minute joker, recalled a rare somber moment leading up to the state finals.
“Those days were stressful,” she recalled. “We had never been in that situation, and it filtered over into our practice.
“Pete had always been a very quiet and gentle leader, but he saw the stress and anxiety building. He had to get rough with us during one practice, and I think that was the turning point. We knew he meant business.”
Bobbi’s memory of that episode is more vivid.
“We were in the middle of practice and something happened that upset Mr. Pritchett,” she recalled. “He started yelling and pointing his finger at me.
“He screamed that we had come too far to give up now. He said we weren’t going to state to participate, we were going to win!”
Lovell said the show of emotion hit her like a load of bricks.
“I couldn’t believe he was yelling,” she recalled. “So, I got in my car and went home. I threw the car in park, tossed my books in the grass, and headed into the house.
“My sister asked what was wrong and I told her Mr. Pritchett yelled at me and I was quitting the team.
“I figured that would upset the masses, but my dad just piped up and said, ‘I guess we’ll call it a season.’”
Bobbi’s dad, Bob, was as cool as a Kentucky cucumber. You couldn’t rattle Big Bob if you hit him upside the head with a ball bat.
Bobbi, smile restored, returned to the team that next day and helped the Stars complete their mission.
I remember, in the waning moments of the title game, that simple yet resounding cheer of
“B-N-L” emanating down from MSA’s rafters. I also recall a seemingly endless caravan of vehicles escorting the team bus back to a community anxious to celebrate something truly special, an accomplishment only achievable via teamwork and unity.
Columnist Bob Bridge welcomes comments at 812-276-9646 or email@example.com