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Drifters Basketball Championship reunion

They accomplished the unthinkable! On March 3, 2009 at 3:45 p.m., time stopped in the township of Colonial Beach. Five years ago, the Colonial Beach High School varsity boys’ basketball team made school history by winning its first ever VHSL Division I, Group A Boys’ Basketball State Championship. They accomplished this mammoth feat by defeating the Eastern Montgomery Mustangs, 77-75, on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, at the Siegel Center, in Richmond.

Black & Gold pride resonated in the hearts of 3,500 plus Drifter fans, who celebrated in the stands on that day in high school history.

Before the team departed Richmond, sports icon and long-time, and now retired Drifter boys’ varsity head basketball coach, Steve Swope made his team a promise to never forget his team’s mark on history. He challenged his team to meet and celebrate their magical journey every five years in their beloved township.
On Saturday, six of the 10 members of the team honored Swope’s challenge, by celebrating at Dockside Restaurant and Blue Heron Pub, in Colonial Beach. Also, present, along with numerous family and friends and coaches, were Jonathan Parker, and Drifter varsity coach, Keith Dickerson. Parker, the current Drifters boys varsity head basketball coach, served as an assistant to Swope. Randy Jones, not present, also served as Swope’s assistant during the state championship run.

The moment Mustangs Brad Wooten narrowly missed a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer, Swope, Jones, and Parker embraced, knowing that their destiny as state champions had become reality. It was a moment frozen in time.

“For me to see all these guys again makes me want to be able to create something like this every weekend of my life,” Swope said. “I love them dearly, and I told them after the game, we will have a reunion, and lord willing, whether it’s a 10-year or 15-year celebration, we will continue doing this. We are a band of brothers, and we will always be family.”

As a three-year starter at Longwood University, Tristan “TT” Carey achieved nearly every collegiate accomplishment an athlete could ever dream of. However, fans will never forget his 37 points and the go-ahead basket that added to sealing the fate of the Mustangs with just 20-seconds to go.
“It feels like it just happened yesterday,” the recent Lancer graduate said. “Often when I hang out with my high school pals, we all tend to bring up those memorable moments during the year of the state championship. Personally, bringing the championship to Colonial Beach has been great, and I will always cherish the moment.”

Without a strong supporting cast of unselfish players the championship hardware would not dwell in the hallowed trophy cases of the Drifterdome.

Carey’s right hand man, Dylan Farinet, contributed 17 points, 19 rebounds, and also nailed two free throws with 16.2 seconds left to give the Black & Gold a precarious 76-72 lead. However, after Mustang guard, Adam Sisson’s 3-pointer, the Drifters lead was cut to one (76-75). As fate would have it, Farinet made one of two foul shots, giving the Drifters a slim margin of victory.

Like Carey, Farinet enjoyed a stellar high school athletic career, and when on to become a standout forward with the University of Mary Washington Eagles men’s basketball team. During his final season, Farinet helped the Eagles achieve their best season in school history.

Upon reflection, Farinet hopes to use those memorable championship moments, and the journey it took to make it happen as a college head basketball coach someday. “When you put in so much work towards a program, where people appreciate it, you learn to love the process,” Farinet said. “You fall in love with the program, and eventually it pays off.”

On a sad note, while the entire team has gone on to lead successful academic and professional careers, there is a void in the community of Colonial Beach.  Over a month ago, 22-year old, and fellow Drifter championship teammate, Jeryl Dickerson passed away during a kayaking accident.

During his former player’s memorial, Swope, with a heavy heart, gave Dickerson’s eulogy. His memories of his tireless warrior will forever be embedded in Drifter legend. “I talked to his grandmother recently, and everything in her heart is right here with us,” Swope said.

Swope’s legacy of accomplishment will always be remembered for over 1,000 combined victories in basketball and baseball, and the litany of championships that now decorate the walls of the Drifterdome and Monroe Park in the form of banners. “Everybody in this community is special, and very close,” Swope added. “This village raised me, and I’d like to think that I was a part of the village that helped raise a lot of these kids. It’s just a special place to live.”

Leonard Banks
Sports editor

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