Years together pay off for trio

Published 12:23 am Saturday, March 13, 2010

LAFAYETTE, La. — Friday night’s victory in the Class 3A state title game isn’t the first time Vidalia’s seniors have won a championship.

But the LHSAA Class 3A state championship sure feels better than a fourth-grade Vidalia YBA title.

“Oh yeah,” Vidalia’s Gary Stewart, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, said with a smile. “This is the greatest feeling ever.”

But for those who have been following the Vidalia senior trio of Stewart, Torrey Dixon and Quartrell Thomas, Friday’s victory wasn’t that much of a surprise at all.

In fact, it was a fitting end to their careers, which began when they were just youths playing on Vidalia’s hardscrabble blacktop.

“I don’t know how long we’ve been playing together,” Stewart said. “We started playing down at what we called the slab.”

And those years of playing basketball together has created an awareness between the players that transcends communication.

“They know the move I’m going to make before I make it,” Dixon said. “And I know the moves they are going to make before they make it. We’ve got that between us three.”

That awareness is evident every time Stewart zipped a pass underneath the basket to Dixon, who would lay it in or dunk it, or when Dixon would drive and then dish to Thomas for an open jump shot.

The almost half-court alley oop pass from Stewart to Dixon in Vidalia’s semifinal win over Abbeville was a thing of beauty, as was another alley oop in the championship game rout.

The three have had their disagreements, arguments and altercations, as friends will do. But Thomas said all that paid off in the end with a state championship.

“We always played either YBA or streetball,” Thomas said. “All that playing together, arguments and hard practices has paid off.”

And in order for that to happen, the senior made a promise to each other they would go out as champs.

“We said we wanted to leave Vidalia with a championship,” Stewart said. “It feels great but it’s also kind of sad knowing it was our last game together.”

It’s been a long and arduous process from YBA champions to high school heroes, but the three will always be linked by the hardware they won on Friday in Lafayette.

“It feels great to finally get that ring,” Stewart said. “We’ve been wanting that our whole careers, and now we’ve got it.”