VERNON, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - You've heard "party like it's 1999."
The last time a Vernon boys basketball made a Final Four was the same year that Prince song came out: 1982. 38 years ago...long before these players, and even the head coach Thomas Register's time (he was born in 1986).
You don't have to remember '82 to appreciate this accomplishment.
"We talk about it every day before practice," Register said of the historical significance. "We talk about it every day after practice. We talk about it before the games, how much it means to the community, how long it has been, how this isn't guaranteed for some people to even see again in their lifetime."
They leave for Lakeland on Monday morning, set to play Hilliard (22-3) on Wednesday afternoon at 2 Eastern. Although they have no experience to go off of in this situation, that may be a good thing. They're making their own history and setting their own expectations.
"I've gotten so many other texts from other coaches and the one thing that stands out every time is: 'enjoy it,'" Register said. "Enjoy it. It goes by quick. Enjoy it. I mean, we're going to prepare, we're going to be ready, but we're going to enjoy it. Yeah, we've not been there like we've talked about, it's been 38 years, but hey, if we want to start the tradition of doing it, you've got to start somewhere."
The core group of athletes —leading scorer Darrell Powell, EJ Reddice, and Dyvion Bush among them—have played together since grade school. This trip is the culmination of all their hard work and determination.
"It's a dream come true," junior Dyvion Bush said. "This is all we've been thinking about. We're not thinking about anything else but going to win state. We've been talking about this since we were eight or nine. I went to see my cousin play in Lakeland they were girls and my uncle and my cousin, they told us to make a promise that were were going to go back...We're going to go back."
Bush's cousins played for Fort Walton Beach.
The winner of Vernon (19-7) vs. Hilliard plays the winner of Paxton (22-5) vs. Hawthorne (23-3) in the 1A championship on Friday at 7 Eastern.
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