First Posted: 12/25/2008
Mount Airy boys basketball coach Kevin Spainhour is hosting the 2nd Annual Mount Airy High School Alumni basketball game on Saturday, with an open varsity practice starting at 1 p.m. and the game beginning at 3 p.m.
Spainhour said the alumni game was started to build the foundation that is Mount Airy basketball.
We started this last year with the hopes of just getting together the foundation that is Mount Airy basketball, Spainhour said. Mount Airy basketball dates well back beyond the 1990s. Last year, we had two guys play who were from the state championship team of the 1960s, including Ernie Nester. We had Jim Forest, who is now a coach on the junior varsity basketball coach play. Hes a late 1950s graduate of Mount Airy.
Spainhour said Forest taught him a lot about the tradition known as Mount Airy basketball.
Jim has brought a wealth of knowledge to me about the history of Mount Airy basketball, Spainhour said. Well get these guys together and hopefully, we can make it an annual event. It allows the guys to feel like theyre still a part of the program. It also gives them a chance to see the history and the passion Mount Airy has.
Around 15 players are expected to compete in this years alumni game. Twelve competed last year.
Ive heard from quite a few, so Im thinking were gonna have around 15 players, Spainhour said.
A pair of players from the Mount Airy Granite Bears 2007-08 team Tyler Bentley and Robby Reid, who is attending Phillips Exeter Prep School are expected for the game. Older alumni expected include Kevin Hill and Anthony Joyce.
Spainhour is also expecting Levi Goins to play in this years game. Goins is a member of the Granite Bears 2001 state championship basketball team.
McKenzie Sumner played for Mount Airys varsity basketball team through his senior season in 2005.
I think its just a lot of fun to see guys you havent seen in a while, former Granite Bear McKenzie Sumner, now a senior at North Carolina said. To get back with everybody and just play, back in 2005, I had close contact with everybody. Wed practice three hours a day. You become close to everybody. Its good to get back and catch up with everybody.
Sumner believes the alumni game gives former Bears a sense of school pride.
This is the second year weve done this, and its a good idea to keep everybody in touch with the program. It gives us a sense of school pride that you belong to a program. I take pride in that.
Sumner will suit up on Saturday.
Former Granite Bear Anthony Joyce, who will also play Saturday, said the alumni game is like a family reunion.
It brings back a lot of memories, Joyce said. We had a fun group of guys. We all grew up playing basketball as kids, so its like a family reunion.
Joyces senior season was the 2001-02 season, just one year before Mount Airy won it all.
I graduated in 2001, Joyce said. I played varsity for two years. I played with Richard Joyce the year before they won the championship. We had already graduated.
A former all-conference Bear, Joyce said his greatest memory was going toe-to-toe with Duke star basketball player J.J. Redick.
My biggest memory I have was playing against J.J. Reddick, Joyce said. Man, he was a good player, a fantastic shooter… Our coach knew his team was really good at the time, so he set it up, and we played at home. The gym was packed. Everyone came out to watch that game.
Spainhour is hopeful many people will come out to see the event.
Its a really fun event, Spainhour concluded. Were having an open practice prior to the game where parents and alumni can come for varsity parctice. Its an all-around good event.
Mount Airys boys basketball program has four state championship titles to its credit: 1959-60, 1960-61, 1962-63 and 2002-03.
Contact Justin Nuzzo at email@example.com or 719-1922.