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Cameron’s call revives memory

That friendly voice on the other end of the telephone linebrought a smile to my face. I had not seen Shelva Cameron in 25years but he sounded familiar.

Cameron had a Kansas twang. That comes from living 20 years inWichita. He works as an aeronautics technician with a largeaircraft company.

In case you have forgotten, Cameron was an outstandingbasketball player at Brookhaven High School in the early 1970s. Hewas about as slender as a broom handle back then but he could shootthe eyes out with a basketball.

The memory is foggy but I recall a wintry night at Loyd Starwhen Cameron was a sophomore or junior. Loyd Star had an impressiveteam with lots of state tournament experience. By comparison, theBrookhaven Panthers were inexperienced, coached by young man namedBobby West.

It was expected to be a blowout but Cameron and his teammateswere focused on the task at hand. He hit about seven straightjumpers from the wing and Loyd Star was shocked, down by at least10 points at halftime.

Loyd Star coach Wayne Sasser was so upset that he tore up thescorebook at halftime and threw it in the shower room. His scoutingreport on the Panthers proved to be inaccurate.

Cameron laughed when I retold the story to him. He had a goodreason for calling. He wanted to make a scrapbook of old newspaperclippings so he could show his two children, a 9-year-old son and a3-year old daughter, what daddy used to do in the gymnasium.

In the spring of 1974, Cameron signed with Co-Lin coach M.K.Turk. The lure of a senior college coaching career took Turk andhis prize player, 6-foot-8 Marion “Elevator” Hilliard of CrystalSprings, to Memphis State University a few weeks later. A few yearslater, Turk took the head job at Southern Miss and coached therefor 20 years.

William Lewis replaced Turk at Co-Lin and enjoyed some goodseasons before leaving for Hattiesburg. Lewis now serves aspresident of Pearl River Community College.

Cameron asked about his old high school coach. West went fromBrookhaven to Jackson Prep where he won several statechampionships. He now serves as athletic director at JacksonAcademy.

He also asked about Gwyn Young, an assistant coach at BHS beforegoing to Co-Lin. Yes, Young was still coaching and winning with theCo-Lin Lady Wolves. Been coaching at Co-Lin for 26 years.

There was another coach, Tommy Goodson, Cameron asked about.Yes, Goodson helped jump start the girls basketball program atAlexander Junior High and BHS. Goodson’s 1983-84 BHS team finishedunbeaten in 40 games and was ranked No. 3 in the nation. He leftfor LSU and served as an assistant coach to Sue Gunter for 16years.

In 1984, Chana Perry, a 6-foot-3 center for BHS, was namedParade Magazine’s National Player of the Year. Perry was the objectof a nation-wide recruiting battle and surprised everyone when shesigned with Northeast Louisiana University at Monroe. The NLU sagadeveloped into a recruiting scandal and the school became the firstwomen’s basketball program to be placed on NCAA probation.

Perry moved to Los Angeles to live with her father and finishedplaying college basketball at San Diego State, later making theschool’s athletic hall of fame. The girl with the smile as big asTexas played overseas in a European professional league for severalyears.

Cameron asked about one of his former BHS teammates, StaceyBritt, an all-star guard. Many of those players don’t live in thisarea.

For the record, Cameron had a brother, Ricky Cameron, who was anoutstanding, 4-sport athlete. He signed a football scholarship withJackson State University as a defensive back. He often reminded meof a young Muhammad Ali. Ricky now lives in Bay St. Louis with hiswife and two daughters. He runs a convenience store.

For sure, the Cameron brothers were two exceptional athletes whohave graduated from BHS. Thanks for the memories.