Tompkins High basketball players and coaches drooped in their locker room, entrenched deep within the bowels of San Antonio’s Alamodome, with shoulders slumped and heads heavy, fallen and frustrated, on the night of March 11, 2018.
The Falcons had just dropped a heartbreaking 49-47 overtime decision to Allen in the Class 6A state championship game.
Even after a remarkable season that put the still-young program on the high school basketball map in Texas, tears filled eyes. Eventually, however, perspective and optimism filled thoughts and words.
“It was definitely a learning experience,” said Emmanuel White, then a senior wing. “Shortly after the game, we all told each other that we were going to be in a bigger moment. That wasn’t going to be the biggest game we’d ever play in. So, we didn’t really hang our hats on that.
“Now it’s just crazy. We’re all about to have a chance to do it together again.”
Tompkins coach Todd McVey remembers it well to this day.
Then-sophomore Marquis Shoulders, a transfer from Cypress Springs, misread the ball on a kick return in his first junior varsity home game in 2018. Shoulders was clearly frustrated, and McVey approached him to have a quick chat.
“It was his first time out there and he kind of fumbled it a bit,” McVey said. “He got frustrated and I had to give him a talk on the sideline. It was that year of learning for him. That JV year was really good for him. He was our MVP and he got to key in on his craft and it paid off for him.”
More nerve-wracking than any pressure shot was the recruiting obstacles a global pandemic presented to Tompkins senior golfer Zach Asaro this spring.
When the high school golf season was postponed in mid-March and then eventually canceled less than a month later, it stunted an impressive season for Asaro, an all-district performer. He was hoping to strut his swing at the district and, hopefully, regional and state meets, searching for a scholarship offer from a bigger school after receiving interest from NAIA and NCAA Division III programs.
Those meets never took place. But Asaro, through persistent mobile and virtual contact with University of New Orleans men’s golf coach Jeff Lorio and leaning upon the faith and trust of sights and a program unseen, earned that shot at a better school, committing May 1 to play for the Privateers, a NCAA Division I program in the Southland Conference.