By Jeremy McDonald
ERVAIS, Ore.– Just as Head Coach Kyle Buse was wrapping up his speech about his 2A State Champions, Lilly Welburn had walked up to Buse, took the microphone from the longtime coach and announced that her, Marisol Ayala, Katie Hanson, Isabel Contreras and Celi Vasquez presented him with a gift.
They warned him about possible tears. Knowing that the group of Seniors around him at this moment, have been around with him for the past eight years as he unwrapped the gift.
“Buse is family to all of us. It’s going to suck not being here every day,” Welburn said of her coach.
Inside the wrapping paper was a scrapbook from all of their adventures from fifth-grade until now with Buse. Key pictures illustrating how much their time meant to them with Buse. Buse saw a few pages of it before having to stop, catching himself in the emotions of the moment as they turned their focus to cutting down the nets.
The squad had finally got a chance to celebrate their 2A State Title win with the town Friday evening
Police escort, candy, and a few people lining the road during the float along the Fourth of July route started the event before they made their way to the gym. Inside the gym, along with alums and family present, the Boys Basketball team were honored first before Buse took over the mic from Boys Head Coach Ben Schultz.
Buse let Annie Owen talk about her JV team before Buse took over. Spending time talking about each Varsity athlete.
Words still can’t be formulated from this season nearly three weeks after their 49-41 win over Salem Academy. 12-0 in the Covid Shortened-season. First State Title since 1994. Schultz played the final few moments from that State Title win 20-plus years ago, a 45-34 win over Crow that year.
“This moment. It’s speechless, I can’t believe it. It surprised me like there’s no words to describe the feeling that we won State,” said Ayala. “It’s an honor and I’m really happy that we won.”
Ayala described this standard leaving behind for the Boyd Sisters, Ava Sellers, Sofia Contreas and Josie Schultz as ‘unbelievable’ and ‘amazing’ knowing they’ve left their mark on their smalltown program.
Hometown Proud by Kane Brown gets to Welburn as she points out. The goal since her group was in middle school was the State Title and they achieved it. And when the song comes on, it hits home for her as this Senior group begins their next chapter of their lives.
“I listen to that song and it tears me up because that’s how most of us feel about basketball. We played like every game for the people in the crowd and the people who loved us the most and it worked out for us,” Welburn said.
A handful of graduates joined in the final team break at half-court following the ceremony. The Cougars return to Summer action next week at Country Christian before the Moratorium Week starts on July 25.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald