COWEN, W.Va. — “This is what a state championship should be all about,” said Webster County High School Principal Stacey Cutlip.
Cutlip was speaking to Metronews from a school bus hauling her school’s basketball team from Webster Springs to Cowen for their second parade Monday to celebrate the school’s first ever state championship in any sport. At both locations, people lined the streets, waved signs, cheered, and shook hands.
Children from the county’s elementary schools were bused into the towns from remote parts of the county to be part of the celebration. They clamored to get autographs from players and touch the State Championship trophy.
“I’m telling you for this community it’s an absolute dream come true,” said Cutlip. “This team is a true rallying point for our community. There is so much pride going on right now, it’s unbelievable from the youngest to the oldest.”
The Highlanders finished off the perfect season back on Saturday afternoon, coming from behind to beat Parkersburg Catholic 47-40. The win gave Webster County an undefeated slate, which may have been as equally impressive as a state championship.
“All year we tried not to focus on those wins and just take them one game at a time,” said Coach Michael Gray. “Then it started hitting us and we started to know if we would win the state tournament we would be undefeated. That was just awesome to stay focused for that many games and hold onto 28 wins.”
It’s been an amazing ride for Gray and his team which has been together since grade school. He said they could feel the whole county carrying them in Charleston, particularly with one of the largest crowds to ever watch a Class A championship game. He was pleased to share it with everyone.
“We’re just trying to give a little bit back to these fans who’ve been supporting us all year. This is what it’s all about,” he said. “We live in theses small communities and we don’t get a lot. They’ve needed this. It’s a really big deal.”