Clarion Area Boys’ Basketball Boosters Host Team Banquet

Above photo by Stephanie Brinkley – Bobcat Seniors (L-R) Jameson McIlwain, Dawson Smail, Devon Lauer, Bryce Brinkley, Tanner Miller, Gabe Simko, Kam Merrell and Owen Kriebel (Missing Dauntae Girvan)

The Clarion Area Boys’ Basketball Boosters treated the team, with their 2023-24 Banquet, at the Main Street Center in downtown Clarion, on Sunday, March 24th.

The event took place in a low key, relaxed atmosphere (kind of like a back porch barbeque). And you could tell that the attendees absolutely enjoyed it that way.

The festivities began with Boys’ Basketball Booster Chairman, Dave Smail welcoming everyone to the festivities, who then turned it over to Brian Burford, who gave the blessing for the meal.

The meal was catered by Daddy’s Main Street, in Clarion and parents and others who also provided a number of tasty items.

Some of those gathered for the banquet

Volunteer assistant coach Greg Larson took the podium. He thanked the folks for attending. He then mentioned that when head coach Tom Lewis asked him to come on board. He wasn’t sure he could make the big commitment. But after weighing the pros and cons, and with his wife Samantha’s encouragement, he jumped in with both feet, and never looked back. (Note: check out Samantha’s Facebook post describing how everything unfolded and her pride in Greg’s decision and commitment.)

Coach Larson

He developed a special bond with the players and vice versa. He also mentioned that coach Lewis was “a leader like no other.” He shared good words about Junior Varsity coach Ryan Radaker. He thanked the parents and grand parents, who along with the coaches, helped the players to develop character on and off the court. Coach Larson then welcomed the seniors to the Bobcat Alumni Fellowship, saying this was something they would cherish for years to come. He closed with a big “Go Bobcats!”

Coach Radaker introduced members of his Junior Varsity squad.

He shared a number of stats, including the fact that the team went 18-1 during the campaign and ran off seventeen straight victories to finish out the season, their only loss coming in week two.

Coach Radaker with some of the JVs

Coach Radaker mentioned the team’s theme, which is summed up in two sets of three words: “E” – Energy, Effort and Enthusiasm; and “C” – Cool, Calm and Collected. He mentioned how the boys really caught on and took the theme seriously.

Devon Lauer and Dawson Smail were presented with their All-KSAC certificates.

Coach Lewis’ spent his time at the podium sharing some fond memories about his decades long career, which ended with the banquet. He said he was happy to go out with the nine seniors, Bryce Brinkley, Dauntae Girvan, Owen Kriebel, Devon Lauer, Jameson McIlwain, Kam Merrell, Tanner Miller, Gabe Simko and Dawson Smail, who have been with him for the past four years, introducing them in groups of threes. There was a special reason, for coach Lewis that each group of three was set up as it was.

Coach Lewis

He mentioned the valuable asset coach Radaker has been to him, making special note of Ryan’s IT skills, which made things much easier for him in studying opponents to prepare for games.

Some of those coach Lewis thanked and recognized included: his wife Nancy for her love and support, the Boosters; Anna Kriebel for her work on the scorebook over the years, who along with her husband Shane, has been an integral part of Bobcat Basketball for a number of years; coach Larson (mentioning the respect the players had for him and his falling in love with coaching).

Coach Lewis mentioned his being pleased with the team’s 18-10 record. And mentioned that in the dozen or so years he has been back with the program, as an assistant and head coach, the Bobcats reached the District Nine championship game three times.

He made mention of Devon’s reaching 1,000 points this season, highlighting that he was only the twelfth Bobcat to do so and the seventh that he had coached. Devon was presented with his commemorative, keepsake basketball, recognizing this achievement.

Addressing the whole gathering, coach Lewis said, “Thank you all for everything.”

Mason Burford presented coach Lewis with a framed “Elvis Has Left The Building” memento recognizing one of coach’s favorite sayings.

Dave Smail presented gifts to the coaches from the boosters. He had special thanks for a number of people. Some of those included: Laura Burford for all her hard work in putting the banquet together, the boosters, players and parents. He said, “From the bottom of my heart, I love you all.”

He then mentioned that Devon and Dawson would be playing in the YMCA All-Star Game on Sunday, April 7th and encouraged folks to attend the game and support them.

(Congratulations to all the Bobcats on a fine season and to all involved in this great banquet.!!!! Thank you to Stephanie for her photo!!)