AUSTIN -- The last time Ponder went to state was in 2010, the year they won their third state championship in a row.

That was only four years ago. Not a long time, unless you're in high school.

'Four years is an eternity, almost, for a high school kid, because four years is all they get,' said Ponder Head Coach Jude Stanley.

Last time Ponder went to state, the seniors on this team were in eighth grade -- not old enough to play, but plenty old enough to understand the tradition here. This is Ponder's eighth trip to state, and they've won a state championship four times.

'All the kids, they've always wanted to go,' senior forward Clay Morgan said about his teammates. 'I've known everyone since pretty much elementary, so we've all watched all the games.'

This year's team is tapping into that tradition, using Twitter to have former players give advice to current players. Every tweet includes the hashtag '#AdviceFromLions.'

'Stuff like, 'Get adjusted to the arena,' 'Get some good shots up in the arena so you get adjusted to the lights' and all that,' said Josh Peterson, a senior. 'Saying, 'Get some sleep early this week, because when you're in Austin, there's no sleeping going on. You're laying in bed, pitch black, staring up at the ceiling.''

And if playing in Austin isn't reward enough, the team rode there in a luxury bus.

'I was telling coach in the dressing room, I've never hauled a boys' team in this bus that's ever lost a game,' said Paul Redfern, who owns the bus.

Redfern bought the bus in 2008 when his son was a senior, and he drove the team to all its games. When Ponder went back to Austin the next two years, Redfern took them.

'It's great, it's pretty big. Good travel bus,' said sophomore guard Brady Anderson. 'We can watch TV, sleep, play some Call of Duty.'

Ponder has all the elements in place for a fifth state championship: Good players and coaches, a great tradition, and a ride like no one else.


Read or Share this story: