These Titans were worthy of the name

Published 6:15 pm Monday, March 12, 2018


They didn’t cure cancer or pave Port Arthur’s corrugated streets.

This city can’t forget Tropical Storm Harvey’s floods or the myriad ills that followed; we live those every day.

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There’s too much ugly in Port Arthur to forget the recent wave of violence or the crushing poverty attendant on so many mean city streets.

But what the Port Arthur Memorial High School boys basketball team accomplished on a sterling Saturday in faraway San Antonio cannot and should not be diminished. In a year of despair these teenagers lent their city hope, in a town laden with “can’t do it” they provided a resounding “did it.”

The Titans’ improbable run to the University Interscholastic League Class 5A basketball championship did not come easily, but things that are precious seldom do. There were challenges along the way and obstacles aplenty even in the championship contest, a 75-69 victory over Justin Northwest.

There were opportunities for the Titans, trailing by 10 at one point, to say, “We’ve done enough” and settle for what would have been a praiseworthy runner-up finish.

But “quit,” it seems, is neither in the Titans’ vocabulary nor in their hearts. No matter how much basketball third-year coach Kenneth Coleman has taught his young charges, he taught them this much more: Fight back. Persevere. Prevail.

That’s what these marvelous young men did, as 12,058 witnesses can attest. They trailed but remained within range for much of the game, clawed their way back into the contest with time ticking away, not taking command until well into the last quarter and pressing every late advantage over their foul-laden opponents.

And then it was done. The city had its 10th basketball championship — the first of this century — but Memorial had its first — and no one ever forgets the first.

“All praise and glory be to God,” Coleman said after the game, rightly giving credit first where credit first is due. But one might believe that God uses men and women — men like Kenneth Coleman — as his earthly tools. What Coleman has taught these youngsters in his care will weigh more substantial in their lives than any single trophy, no matter its size or importance, and will last longer than any seasonal triumph.

He has taught them the value of hard work and team spirit. He has taught them to believe in themselves and believe in their teammates. He has taught them the value of following great leadership and finding pride within themselves and within their school. He has instilled within them the courage to seek worthy goals and never relent in their pursuit of them.

What is a titan but a leader, someone powerful, a giant? From team MVP to the last kid on the bench, these Titans proved worthy of their name.