Just having the first- and second-place teams in Region XIV’s South Zone facing off would be plenty of reason to want to see Saturday’s basketball game.
But for Angelina College Roadrunner head coach Nick Wade, the game will carry even more meaning. He gets an opportunity to show his former mentor just how much he’s learned in his two years at the helm at AC.
The Roadrunners will host Lee College, where Wade served three years as an assistant coach under long-time Rebel head coach Roy Champagne. Over those three seasons, Wade helped Lee College to its best win totals in school history, a conference championship in 2013 and a spot in the national tournament’s Sweet 16.
And while Wade admits to still holding a soft spot for his former program, he stresses that for at least a short time on Saturday, those feelings won’t matter.
“For 40 minutes, we’ll be sworn enemies,” Wade laughed. “But Coach Champagne treats me like I’m one of his own, and I’m so indebted and grateful that he allowed me to get into this business and in this region, and I’m really excited to compete against him.
“It’s always nice to compete against family, and Coach Champagne has his guys playing at a high level right now. Games like this are why you want to play and coach in Region XIV.”
The Roadrunners are coming off a real thriller played Wednesday night in Port Arthur. AC’s Travis Henson managed a tip-in off a miss just in time to beat the buzzer, staving off overtime and lifting the ‘Runners (12-8, 8-2) to their fourth straight win in league play.
“Travis tipped it in, and credit to him for continuing to compete instead of just watching the ball,” Wade said of the big play. “There are a lot of things, even on that last-second play, that we can clean up, but the guys did a great job just finishing the game.
“It’s always tough to win on the road in Region XIV, but we were able to find a way to do it. It wasn’t pretty, but I’m really proud of my guys for finishing the job.”
Saturday’s game against the Rebels (14-7, 5-5) tips off at 4 p.m. at Shands Gymnasium. Live streaming is available at angelinaathletics.com.
Admission to the game is free, with donations accepted at the door.