One Final Game in A.E. Wood by Madison Brown.
Mississippi College held the men’s basketball senior night on Wednesday evening in A. E. Wood Coliseum. Four senior athletes and their families were honored before their last home game of the 2017-2018 season. Antonio Johnson, Otis Harvey, Xavion Dillon, and Ricky Breakfield joined their families in center court to be recognized in front of the home crowd. Each senior has a unique journey that brought him to his final home game as a Choctaw.
Johnson is the only senior player that has been with the Choctaws all four years of his college career. He said that in the beginning, his experience was rough. The McComb native made an appearance in only 17 games his freshman year but worked hard to earn his current position as a starting player. “I had to get used to the speed of things and the coaches, but overall, it’s been a great experience,” he said.
Johnson’s mother passed away earlier in the season and emotions ran high during the halftime ceremony. He said that having the rest of his family with him to celebrate the night meant so much to him. “They support me in everything I do. We’ve continued to love each other even through such a hard time.”
Johnson’s favorite memories were made on the court at A. E. Wood Coliseum. He said playing for the home crowd is unlike anything else. With a great support system behind the team, the fans are what made his college career unforgettable. With all of his experience as a part of the Choctaw team, Johnson is a team leader and gives advice to the younger players on the team. He believes that the key to success for the future of the Choctaw team is “building team chemistry.” He hopes that in the coming seasons the team will make it to the playoffs and bring home a GSC championship.
For players like Otis Harvey, the Choctaw experience has been a little shorter. Originally from Gulfport, Miss., Harvey is a transfer from Jones County Junior College. Harvey spent the last three years with the Choctaws, but missed most of his first season due to an injury. At one point, Harvey wanted to give up the basketball altogether, but decided he wanted to finish his career out strong. He said that during the time spent away from the sport he “gained a hunger for the game.” With only one game left in the season, he said the Choctaws are not giving up.
Xavion Dillon is from Tylertown, Miss., and a transfer from Southeast Missouri State University. Finishing his second year with the Choctaws, Dillon hasn’t seen as much playing time as the other seniors but has enjoyed his experience with the team just the same. “It’s been a long journey of ups and downs, but it’s been fun,” he said. He wishes luck to the Choctaw team in the coming years saying, “They’re young and talented. Going into next season, I expect great things from them.”
Ricky Breakfield is a walk-on from Wesson, Miss., and playing collegiate basketball was a lifelong dream. Breakfield made the decision to walk on for a spot on the Choctaw basketball team last year. Although he saw just a bit of playing time, he said his overall experience has been great. His time with the team has been short, but Breakfield said that it was easy to “click with the other guys” because of their different personalities. He’s grateful for the opportunity to join the team even though he spent the majority of the season supporting them from the bench. “God truly blessed me to get to fulfill this dream, and it’s been great,” he said.
Each senior athlete said that their best memories were simply spending time with their teammates. Road trips are the best way to form relationships that are key to having a successful team. With 15 games on the road this year, the Choctaws had plenty of time to bond. The team has one final road game of the season this Thursday night. The Choctaws will take on GSC rival Delta State in Cleveland, Miss. Just like the last match up against the Statesmen, the Choctaws know to expect an intense game. These four seniors have given their all this season, and Choctaw fans can expect the same this week. The Lady Choctaws will tip off at 5:30 p.m. followed by the Choctaws at 7:30 p.m.