William Chrisman principal Jason Dial stuck his head inside the William Chrisman boys locker room.

As the Bears were posing for a memorable group photo, he quipped, “Guys, I’ve got about 200 people up here waiting for you in the gymnasium.”

William Chrisman principal Jason Dial stuck his head inside the William Chrisman boys locker room.
As the Bears were posing for a memorable group photo, he quipped, “Guys, I’ve got about 200 people up here waiting for you in the gymnasium.”
The players grabbed a piece of pizza, senior forward Jon Ekey grabbed the Class 5 District 15 championship plaque and they headed upstairs to the gymnasium, following an easier-than-expected 87-52 victory over Kansas City Northeast Friday night on the Bears’ home court.
A few minutes later, coach John Vickers walked onto the court and was immediately grabbed by his players. They put the coach on their shoulders and took a victory lap around the gym as parents, players, friends and family recorded the moment that will more than likely wind up on YouTube.
“This is just one of the most special moments of our lives – all of our lives,” said senior guard Justin Clark, who helped the Bears get off to an 18-2 run with two quick 3-pointers.
“None of us thought it was going to be like it was. We were ready, mentally and physically, for a battle. And we got off to that hot start and just never quit.”
Clark scored 11 of his 17 points in the first quarter. Nathan Martin, who won a district title last year at Truman, added two 3-pointers and 11 points and Ekey had another strong all-around game with 19 points, six rebounds, five charges and four blocks.
The district title was the first for Chrisman since 1980.
“That’s a long time,” said senior guard Korey Stucker, who threw a scare at his teammates and the standing-room-only crowd when he was fouled going in for a layup and fell to the floor – head first – in the second quarter.
“I thought it was bad,” Vickers said. “I had to battle my emotions. I didn’t want the kids to see me lose it, but it was tough. It looked bad – real bad.”
But after spending a few moments with a trainer, school officials and his parents, Stucker popped up off the floor and walked to the locker room. When he returned to the bench, he was given a standing ovation.
“I wanted to come back,” Stucker said, “but the trainer told me three words when I went downstairs and told me I had to remember them to play.”
Stucker grinned, and added, “Heck, I don’t even remember them now.”
Stucker’s injury – coupled with a wild sequence in which Northeast coach Ron Robinson and a fan sitting behind the bench were ejected – could have robbed the Bears of their momentum.
But it didn’t happen.
“I didn’t think we were as good in the second quarter, as we were in the first,” Vickers said, “but the kids showed their composure and played a great game. I am so proud of them.”
Chrisman led 23-5 after the first quarter and 45-22 at halftime.
All that was left was the celebrating.
“This is our fourth year in the Grinnell offense, and we all really get it,” Ekey said. “All the seniors were talking before the start of the season how this could be a special year.
“And right now, I can say it’s as special as any year I’ve ever had. But the biggest games are still out there. We have to stay focused and be ready for Wednesday night.”
The Bears travel to the St. Joseph Civic Center to play the winner of the District 16 title game at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
“The kids know how big that game Wednesday is going to be,” Vickers said. “It’s our 21st district title (the first came in 1929), but the first since 1980.
“We’re all going to enjoy this one for a while. But we’re all going to be ready for Wednesday, too.”
Marion Denmon led Northeast (8-19) with 17 points.
Josh Yakovitz added 12 points for the 19-9 Bears, who have won nine in a row.