Comeback reshapes history for White Oak

White Oak seniors (from left) Caleb Carr, Ian Story and Jerred Whisenhunt will finish their prep careers at the state basketball tournament this week in Austin. (Shane Stark | Tyler Morning Telegraph)

WHITE OAK — A sign that states “I Believe” appears when leaving the locker room for the White Oak High School basketball court. 

A tradition that dates back three decades calls for players to touch the sign before entering the gym.  

“I’ve even see people who don’t play basketball touch it,” Roughnecks coach Ron Boyett.

Having belief was much needed by White Oak’s senior class in the Class 2A Region III championship game last weekend. The Roughnecks trailed by 11 points to begin the fourth quarter, but believed just enough to rally and beat Kountze, 65-63.

The triumph gave the Roughnecks their first trip to state since 1957, dramatically altering the collective legacy of the seniors.

“I think it’s tremendously special,” said senior Caleb Carr, who has been attending the state tournament as a fan for most of his life. “To have this happen during my senior year is an unbelievable feeling.”

No. 2 White Oak (35-1), which claimed state titles in 1953 and ’57, is scheduled to meet top-ranked and defending state champion Idalou (30-5) in the Class 2A semifinals Friday at the University of Texas’ Frank Erwin Center in Austin. The winner will advance to meet either San Antonio Cole (31-5) or Brock (29-7) in Saturday’s title game.

White Oak’s seniors include Carr, forward Jerred Whisenhunt and guards Ian Story and Chadd Johnston. The roster includes mostly juniors and sophomores. 

 “It’s amazing,” Whisenhunt said of going to state. “As a senior it brings extra joy to it because it’s your last year and you get to pass it down. I know that this weekend will be the end of (my high school career).”

Said Story, who has competed at state in tennis the past two years: “We set goals the first week of the season and what we wanted to accomplish was to get to state and play at the drum, and we’ve checked it off. It’s a surreal feeling. I’ve always been a Texas fan, and going out there on the same court as (Kevin Durant) and all the NBA players that went to Texas is going to be an awesome feeling.”

Story would’ve never experienced that without the comeback last week. The Roughnecks were outscored 20-1 to end the third quarter and entered the fourth trailing 53-42, but outscored Kountze 23-10 in the final frame to take the regional title. 

“It’s something you always dream about,” Boyett said. “The goal, I guess, for every high school kid is to get to go down there. And as a coach, you want to do it, too. It’s just neat for the whole community.”

 Carr is excited about completing his White Oak playing days alongside the best teams from Class 5A to 1A Division II.  

“I love the atmosphere,” he said. “I love how packed it is. I love the 5A games and the speed of it.”

NOTES: White Oak’s only loss this season came against Clarksville, which made the 1A Division I semifinals and finished the regular season ranked No. 1 by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches…Idalou beat Tatum, 55-54, in the championship game last season. 

White Oak Roughnecks

Name                                                       Class          Position

Jerred Whisenhunt                        Sr.           F

Slade Sutton                                Soph.       G

Skylar Sutton                                Jr.           G

Chadd Johnston                            Sr.          G

Kris Anderson                               Jr.           G

Josh Benson                                Soph.       F

Dylan Gale                                  Soph.       G

Josh Hood                                   Jr.           G

Cass Carr                                    Soph.      G

Carson Andrews                           Jr.           G

Jordan DeAguero                          Jr.          G

Ian Story                                    Sr.           G

Caleb Carr                                  Sr.           G

Hayden Nichols                            Soph.       F

Gabe Michael                              Soph.       F

Levi Yancy                                  Jr.            F

Clay Hunter                                Jr.            G

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