PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - The students at Pass Christian High School are still on cloud nine. Why? Because their basketball team returned to campus Monday with a state championship trophy in its possession.
The championship gold ball glistened in Pass Christian High School's main office. It reflected the pride of the Pirates, and the perseverance of the community.
Lauren Jenkins was asked by her principal to change the marquee in front of Pass Christian High School. The new message she spelled out said, "Congratulations Pirate Basketball, State Champions."
As Jenkins added the final letters, she said, "They made like an amazing comeback. And it's really just like an uplift for the city of Pass Christian and the high school."
The word champions perfectly described Pass Christian's basketball players.
"But let's not forget their leader," Principal Cathy Broadway told a crowd of students at lunch.
Buddy Kennedy was the conductor who directed the state's best 3A hoops squad. And Principal Broadway wanted him to get the recognition he deserved.
"We want to crown Coach Kennedy today," she told students.
With the help of a basketball player, Kennedy put on a crown and a robe. A scepter was placed in his hand, and the head coach became king for a day. It's all thanks to a lot of hard work, and a miracle shot.
As his point guard Blake Evans spun in the lane Friday night, and then hung in mid-air -- with the potential championship winning shot in his hands -- he appeared to close his eyes.
So did the Pass Christian principal. "I kept saying throw the ball, throw the ball, throw the ball," she remembered.
Like so many other in the Pass family, Broadway was a victim of Hurricane Katrina. "Devastated our whole community," she said.
When asked about her own personal hurricane story, Broadway said, "I lost everything I own, house down to a slab."
The Pass Christian principal often had to shield her students, and her own eyes, from the devastation cluttering the community. But she never complained.
"We didn't use that as an excuse, not academically, nor athletically. We lost our facilities. But you make do with what you have, and you keep going," she said.
She opened her eyes Friday night at about the same time Evans did, when his circus shot -- the one that carried the hopes of everybody in Pass Christian -- kissed the glass and rippled through the net.
"They needed that break," Broadway said, unable to hide her own joy. "There haven't been that many wow moments. So when you get them, you cherish them."
On the court last Friday, the Pirate players cherished their accomplishment. "I'm speechless, man," the hero said. "I feel great, great. That's all I can say, just great."
His teammate Eric Dawkins elaborated on the team's accomplishment. "We didn't know ow we were going to do it," he said. "But we kept working hard, building ourselves back up to where we needed to be. And here we are."
Back on campus, Shelby Williams finished the other side of the marquee. "It just brings the whole community together," she said, still smiling from the memory of her high school basketball team doing something Pass Christian had never done before.