By PATRICK MacCOON
Over the past three seasons, the Walker Valley boys' basketball team has seen a great amount of success on the hardcourt.With a run to the Elite Eight, a sub-state appearance last season and a 7-5 …
Over the past three seasons, the Walker Valley boys' basketball team has seen a great amount of success on the hardcourt.
With a run to the Elite Eight, a sub-state appearance last season and a 7-5 5-AAA mark to earn the No. 3 seed headed into this week's district tournament at "The Stable," all three seasons have been aided by a helping hand.
While the close to the regular season saw the Mustangs fall 54-42 to Bryce Mason (28 points) and McMinn Central, it was still a night to reflect on great memories over the years.
For veteran head coach Bob Williams, a night honoring seven seniors included team manager Logan Spence, who was shown gratitude for all of his hard work over the years.
"I have been fortunate to be around people like Logan in my career," Williams said. "He is probably one of the most consistent givers I have ever been around, and is just a great person. He's selfless. He always has put others first. Our guys all love him."
Spence has in large part helped take on the caretaker's role for WV hoops the past three seasons, since he was welcomed in as manager his sophomore season.
With a love for the game ever since he grew up playing at the YMCA, a knee injury his freshman season would not derail Spence's passion for trying to make a difference.
"Being a basketball team manager really means a lot to me," Spence said. "I try to be here for everybody, because you know I am a part of Walker Valley. I just try to love on everybody and encourage them. It's been a great ride and a great honor I am extremely thankful for."
Over a stretch that has included 52 wins, a district and region championship as well as a sub-state win over Lawrence County, Spence has cheered on his teammates from the sideline and also when asked to behind the camera, filming the action.
"Logan is as big a part of our team as any one of our players," Williams said. "He pulls for our guys and really supports them. When he's on the camera, he's like Dick Vitale on the commentary. He's locked in to every play and shows emotion just like all of our players."
Among other important gameday duties, Spence keeps track of the marker for the clipboard that has helped Coach Williams draw up many game-changing defenses and offensive plays over the years.
Spence remembers the first time he was introduced to his teammates, as he was welcomed by a group that would later go on to the Class AAA state tournament during the 2015-16 season.
"Everyone gave me a warm welcome to the team and that really meant a lot," Spence said. "Josh (Jones) and Kenny (Bunton) took me under their wing and encouraged me to stick with it. I have enjoyed it ever since."
For Williams, the opportunity to coach great players has been special just as it has to have seen the growth and leadership from his trusty manager.
"This is a lifelong relationship we have built with Logan," Williams said. "He's maybe even going to be able to help us out next year. He's going to try and fit in time with his schedule at Chattanooga State to help us. He wants to be a physical therapist one day. We are lucky to have him on our side."
The "giver" for the Mustangs, who has a strong passion to share the Gospel and tell others about Jesus, has left his mark behind and will continue to encourage his team as it tries to make a strong postseason run.
WV is 19-8 over the past five seasons in postseason tournament time, with three sectional appearances.
Senior Kolten Gibson (17 ppg), who received the second most votes for 5-AAA Player of the Year, will also look to lead his group and finish off a stellar career.
"What Kolten has done on the football field and on the basketball court, for us, has been special," Williams said. "He's been one of our mainstays, and has helped us have a lot of success over the years.
"We are challenging our guys, asking them how do they want their story to be written. The ball is on our court to start, and we want to go as far as we possibly can."
Fellow seniors honored were University of the Cumberlands football signee Zeke Westfield, Nate Cooper, Brock Gibson, David Valenzuela and Tay Boone.
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