Sweet championship

Konnor McMahon celebrates the Pirates’ District 31-4A Championship trophy with a kiss. The Pirates won the title Tuesday night for the first time since 1993.

The Rockport-Fulton High School (RFHS) Pirate basketball team claimed its first district championship since 1993 after its 69-30 win over the Robstown Cotton Pickers Tuesday, Feb. 18 at home.

RFHS finishes the district season with a 13-1 record and an overall record of 27-7.

The Pirates celebrated its District 31-4A Championship by cutting down the home team net and draped it over the District 31-4A Championship trophy. Every player and coach on the varsity team snipped a small piece of the net off for him to keep.

For RFHS Head Boys Basketball Coach Damien Bates, this was the first district championship he has ever won as a coach.

“It’s kind of surreal. But if you put in the work, it takes luck, it takes health, it takes good players, and it takes buy-in,” said Bates. “I saw Zach Presley and David Castillo (Class of 17’) and gave them a hug and told them, ‘Thank you.’ And they were like, ‘For what?’ And I told them, ‘Because y’all bought-in my first year. Y’all are the reason why we were able to do what we did today.’ They created that foundation and because they bought-in as the only two seniors, everyone else bought-in too.”

The last Pirate basketball team to win a district championship (93’) played into the regional tournament.

“We matched them with the district championship, now we want to see if we can match them in the regional tournament,” said Bates. “It’s going to take a little bit of everything to get there.”

With about four minutes remaining in the first quarter of the Pirates game against Robstown, guard Tyson Cox hit a milestone in scoring his 1,000th point as an RFHS varsity basketball player. Going into the game, Cox needed only five points and achieved it within the first four minutes.

Earlier in the season, guard Konnor McMahon also scored 1,000 points as an RFHS varsity basketball player. Having two players in their high school careers score 1,000 points is also something Bates said he has never experienced as a coach.

“It makes you a way better coach,” Bates said facetiously. “Coach Rios from Robstown said it best, ‘Tyson’s probably the most improved player that we’ve seen over the last three years.’”

Bates praised Cox’s work ethic and dedication to honing his craft for the remarkable improvements he’s made in the last year.

“This year … he’s just bounds above what he was,” said Bates. “He’s one of our hardest workers and that shows on the court. I really appreciate him and his leadership.”

Cox said going to school the day of the game felt a bit different because everyone kept reminding him about being only five points away from 1,000.

“It feels great,” said Cox. “It’s just so much fun (playing). Especially with my teammates, they make everything so much more fun on the court.”

Cox said scoring 1,000 points was something he never really thought about until this season.

“I didn’t really start taking basketball serious until recently, but it was pretty big tonight,” said Cox.

Against Robstown, Cox led RFHS in scoring with 19 points.

McMahon followed with 14 points and Kaden Harder scored 10.

RFHS will play its first playoff game at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24 against Zapata in Alice.

Bates said Zapata is going to be a tough first test for RFHS.

“They went on a big run throughout district with nine district wins,” said Bates. “They’re much improved than what they were in the beginning of the season. They also have a new coach and I think that’s probably the reason why their record isn’t what you might think, but they got better and better.”

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