PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Students at Pass Christian High School cranked up the cheers in the school courtyard Friday afternoon. They were giving the championship game bound boy's basketball game a rowdy sendoff. As students cranked up their excitement, the Pass Pirates enjoyed one final practice session in their home gym.
"We're thrilled. I'm as excited as I can be for the boys. It's a great opportunity for us and our basketball program and our community as well," said head coach Buddy Kennedy.
They are a welcome boost in a community that could use a lift. Lingering scars from Katrina's devastation are scattered throughout this community. This team knows plenty about battling back, both on the court and in life.
"This school and this community and these kids were really devastated by the hurricane. A lot of them lost homes. A lot of them had nothing to come back to. We didn't have a school to come back to," said Coach Kennedy. "But they hung in there when everything was real bleak, and they fought back through tough times. Now they've got some good times."
"Everybody is so excited. It's really nice to have the support that we've been getting," said school board president, Randy Dewitt.
Finally the players appeared, running through a gauntlet of "thump sticks" and high fives, their "game faces" giving way to frequent smiles.
Everyone in the Pass is proud of these pirates.
"Not only are these young men great athletes, they're great, great students. Just a fine, fine group of guys. And we're excited. I can't even begin to tell you how proud we are of them and their coaches," said superintendent, Dr. Sue Matheson.
The players all get "goodie bags" of candy and other treats after boarding the bus. One final farewell and good luck.