Harrisburg Cougars endure & excel

DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. — It has been an emotional roller coaster for the Harrisburg Cougars basketball team. A week ago Tuesday, Assistant Coach Wes Bair, suffered a mini stroke on the bench in the third quarter of their district semifinal at Wilson.

Not only did the Cougars go on to win the game, they then took the District III gold on Friday night.

The desire to win for Coach Bair, was the driving force for the guys.

"What happened was, we called a timeout and we had seen something was wrong. So after that, they gave him some ice, but we had to put that behind us for him," said Senior guard Rynell Gantt.

Coach Kirk Smallwood added, "it was very very difficult with the help of my staff, we were able to redirect our kids."

Practice couldn't prepare the team for what happened on their bench last Tuesday. While Coach Bair was not physically with the team, he never left the huddle.

"Each day at practice from the Wilson game to the district game we had talked to him during practice," said Gantt. "He was telling us and giving us information till Friday, he was still there with us, so we felt he was part of us."

Not in the huddle, yet still able to motivate his guys.

"He is a very inspirational person he desires us to go harder and harder every day, he just pushes us," continues Gantt.

That push along with determination brought home the gold and delivered a smile to Coach Bair's face

"Just to see a smile on his face," says Kirk Smallwood.  "I went to the hospital, gave him the medal. He put it around his neck and it all came full circle."

"We knew he wanted us to win that district medal just as bad as we wanted it. So we had to get it for him just to make him happy," says Gantt.

The connection between coach and team will continue to drive this Cougars team into the state playoffs according to Smallwood.

"The kids stay in contact contact with him, its a different feeling we made the adjustment and we have to toughen up and make our way through the state playoffs."

The fight through the bracket starts Saturday against Downsgtown East , while Coach Bair has already to fight his way to recovery.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.