I was a ninth grade student at Broad Street High School and a proud member of the basketball team.
We had practice that evening and with the district tournament just around the corner we were preparing hard. We had recently defeated O'Bannon on a Tuesday night and were scheduled to play another game, but I can't remember what happened with that.
My teammates included several good players, but I was mostly excited to be on the team with Larry Hicks (RIP) who was the only other player from Duncan on the team, my cousin Roderick Davis who was a sophomore and my uncle Karl Jones, who was one of the top players in the state as a senior.
That night I remember Coach Isaiah Peterson ending practice early and telling Larry and I to get dressed and get home.
Everyone left early, but this night for Larry and I was a bit of an adventure. We had to make the seven-mile drive from Shelby to Duncan with what at that time appeared to me to be an ice and snow mix falling from the dark sky.
If I remember correctly Larry drove a small, red Nissan or Toyota car and that was the longest ride of my life.
A few times the car seemed to slip, but I never told my mom because I'm sure she was worried enough.
That long drive home turned into a long stay home because that night it came down and came down hard blanketing all of Duncan. Being a rural community, we ended up without power for some time, but all I could think about was basketball.
In many respects the Ice Storm turned out to be a blessing for me. The time away allowed me to focus and get back to thinking about basketball as a game that is supposed to be fun. Somewhere in the season I had lost that.
Everyday in the cold, I threw a couple of balls up at the icy backboard located at the court adjacent to my house and it made me long for the chance to compete.
When we received the news about our tournament being held in Greenwood, I was over the hill with excitement. We entered the tournament and beat St. Joe, then we slipped by Ruleville to meet Riverside in the championship game. Riverside beat us for the championship, but we both were heading to North State.
During this time with the electricity still out in Duncan and me still riding the bench, I kept wondering when would I get my chance and when would I get a haircut.
The Ice Storm had thrown a wrench in my look and I needed that fixed.
Things turned around for me before we went to play Baldwyn in the first round of the North State when Duncan received power to half the town and my Uncle Johnny Johnson took me to my Aunt Juanita's house and cut my hair, well sort of. It was as if he put a bowl on my head and cut around it, leaving me to look as if I had a slightly unshaped bush on my head, but it was a haircut nonetheless.
The next day we traveled to play Baldwyn and that night I got my other wish, although not in the best way. In the game, Karl got in foul trouble, not good. Then the back-up center, which was Roderick sprained his ankle and so coach looked at me and said get in there. The first person that met me on the court was Larry and he said, "Donell, it's just like playing at the school in Duncan." I replied with a big smile, "I know."
This game was the first time I had played significant minutes in a while and that time getting my confidence back during the storm paid off. I had 13 points and eight rebounds in that game to help lead us to a 57-53 win.
We went on and finished second in North State beating Montgomery County and losing to Calhoun City and I played a vital role in that tournament.
From there we went on to Jackson and we played Taylorsville in the quarterfinals where we won and I scored four points and grabbed a few rebounds.
The semifinal put us up against Piney Woods, and we played a great game. Once again I played significant minutes and was able to contribute 12 points, but we lost by three points.
That experience in 1994 was horrible, but great at the same time. I was cold, but my family was closer than ever before. My community was there for one another and through that storm I found the confidence I needed to fuel me to a great high school basketball career.
Donell Maxie is a sports writer for The Bolivar Commercial. He can be reached at 843-4241 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.