The Greenwood school on the campus of Missouri State University held a celebration Tuesday afternoon honoring their state champion boys’ basketball team.
The state title was the first since 1942 for the small school.
“It’s very exciting for Greenwood,” Missouri State President Clif Smart told OI. “You know it’s been 77 years since they’ve won a state championship and so my message to the players is to embrace this and enjoy it because you never know if you’re going to have another chance.”
Many local dignitaries were in attendance at the event including Congressman Billy Long, a graduate of Greenwood whose father was on the 1942 state championship team.
“Every 539 dog years Greenwood wins a state championship,” Long joked to OI. “It was long overdue. I almost teared up. I hugged Mark Hazeltine and you know any time that you hug a lawyer you know you must be feeling pretty good.”
“I just wish my dad was here to see this,” Long added. Long’s father passed away in 2013.
Mayor Ken McClure congratulated the team on behalf of the city.
“Springfield has a long track record of success in high school basketball,” McClure told OI. “The Greenwood Blue Jays are the latest example of that success. We’re pleased to recognize them as a great part of our community.”
The team was officially presented with the trophy to be placed in the school’s trophy case and were saluted by their peers.
“The whole school has been really supportive and we appreciate all our fans, our parents, our coaches and teachers,” freshman Tommy Pinegar told OI.
During the ceremony, it was revealed that coach Darren Taylor has been named the Class 2 state Coach of the Year and Aminu Mohammed has been named Class 2 state Player of the Year.
“I can’t do this without a team,” Mohammed said to reporters when asked about the statewide honor. “They all play a part in this and I’m just the one receiving it. I dedicate the award to every one on my team who made it possible.”