State champion Bulldogs receive rings during ceremony

Published 10:21 am Tuesday, August 29, 2023

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Even watching the final four minutes of the TSSAA Class 1-A Boy’s Basketball State Championship on the screen inside VanHuss-White Gymnasium on Sunday afternoon was enough to make the hairs on your arms stand up with the chills experienced from watching the 2023 Hampton Bulldogs capture the coveted gold ball that represented a state championship.
But this day wasn’t about just watching memorable footage from the game but to honor the team that brought a state championship back to Hampton after the last basketball team that won a state title did so 63 years ago. The 1983 team also made the championship game before falling to East Robertson, 73-67.
Kayla Clawson, Hampton’s new principal, Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby, Coach Jerry White, Cadon Buckles, and Coach Ned Smith spoke to those in attendance while Rob Fritts emceed the event.
All of Hampton’s support staff, coaches, players, Roger Norris (Voice of Bulldog sports) and Coach Jerry White were presented with championship rings to remind them of winning the title. The coaches’ wives were given specially made necklaces for allowing their husbands the time it took to coach a team to such a memorable win.
In preparing the event, Buckles was asked what video he would like to be shown and Buckles responded the last four minutes of the championship game. One could hear a pin drop as all eyes were glued to the big screen on the stage inside the basketball court.
The time finally came for the ring ceremony with Coach Jerry White handing out the rings to his former players who are now guiding the team in Smith, Dewayne Humphrey, Mike Matheson, and Wesley Murray, while Smith presented the rings to players and administrative assistants.
“It’s the best experience that I have had in my life,” said Buckles after the ceremony. “Just to be able to relive it here with everybody in the community. It’s just a blessing and I am thankful every day to God for letting me experience something like this in a great community that supported us the whole way through and  I am so thankful that I got to be a part of it.”
Smith said it was awesome to recognize such a great group of young men who came together and worked hard to achieve championship status.
“This is a great bunch of kids – they just worked so hard,” said Smith. “Chemistry is a big part of it and that went a long way with this group. They didn’t care if they scored or not as individuals, they just wanted to compete and win and it was every one of them – those who subbed in, those who started, and if one fouled out or got hurt, they just stepped up and played together which was a big key.”

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