Jacksonville celebrates double state basketball titles

By Emily Van Zandt Originally Published March 17, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated March 15, 2013 at 12:05 p.m.
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PHOTO BY: Curt Youngblood

First Arkansas Bank & Trust revealed a design for a new billboard Wednesday that will honor the Jacksonville High School boys and girls basketball teams for winning state championships. Copies of the billboard were shown after a parade honoring the teams was held in downtown Jacksonville.

— When visitors drive into Jacksonville, they’ll soon have a new billboard to welcome them to the city. But instead of the city’s given name, the highway billboard, sponsored by First Arkansas Bank and Trust, will welcome them to “Champions-ville.”

A mockup of the billboard was unveiled Wednesday as part of a celebration for the 2013 state champion boys and girls basketball teams, both hailing from Jacksonville High School.

Over the weekend, the boys took the 5A state championship by defeating Alma 56-53. It was the boy’s first state title since 2009 and the second in school history.

The Jacksonville High School girls also took the 5A state championship, beating Paragould 54-43 and earning their first state title in the school’s history.

“I think it’s great,” Herman Williams said. “It opens up the city to more people, for more people to see that Jacksonville is a great place to live.”

Williams, who went to Wednesday’s rally for the teams to support his daughter, varsity cheerleader Alexis Ciskowski-Williams, believes the double wins are a great boost in morale for the school that could have an impact for years to come.

“It’s going to make more kids want to come to Jacksonville High School when they see they’ve won state,” Williams said.

A crowd of more than 100 gathered at the First Arkansas Bank and Trust on Main Street just after 4 p.m. Wednesday to celebrate the teams with a rally that included a presentation by Mayor Gary Fletcher. Following an introduction by bank president Larry Wilson, Fletcher declared March 23, 2013, as “2013 Dual 5A State Champions Day.”

School athletic director Jerry Wilson was sure to thank all of the people who made the season possible, including scorekeepers, ticket-takers, concession-stand workers and parents. Wilson made a special appeal to donors for help in paying for the teams’ state-championship rings, which he said cost more than $300 each.

“They look good,” Wilson said, to a roar from students.

Boys head coach Victor Joyner and girls head coach Katrina Mimms took the stage to introduce their players and thank them for the hard work that resulted in two state championships this year.

“On Tuesday, we came in and had a lackluster practice, so I asked the seniors, ‘Did you practice like state champions?’” Joyner said. “The seniors said, ‘No coach.’ They came back again to

practice that night from 8-10:30 p.m.”

Joyner said that it was that kind of dedication and work ethic that drove the boys to take home their second state championship in school history this year.

Coach Mimms echoed Joyner’s statements, thanking her players for all they did on and off the court this season.

“Both these teams, before we go on the court, we circle up and we thank God,” Mimms said. “We thank him for our protection on us and for what we accomplish. We hope we’re not the last Jacksonville group to achieve this.”

Staff writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at (501) 399-3688 or evanzandt@arkansasonline.com.

Staff Writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at 501-399-3688 or emily@syncweekly.com.

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