Saturday night, we, along with what seemed like the rest of Clinton, went up to Raleigh to watch the Clinton High Lady Dark Horses conclude their march to the state high school 2A basketball championship. We watched as Coach Chris Owens and his Lady Dark Horses defeated the tall and talented team from North Surry, 59 to 49, in a hard fought battle in the recently renovated Reynolds Coliseum on the N.C. State campus.
It was a team effort by the Clinton High girls, as they fought inside for rebounds and position with the much taller North Surry squad. In the end, the Lady Dark Horses were victorious, led as always by their field general, Mikayla Boykin. Boykin scored 31 points, and was named most outstanding player in the game.
Mikayla has had an outstanding senior season at Clinton High. She averaged over 37 points a game for the Lady Dark Horses, despite being the center of attention for opposition defenses. Her scoring, ball handling skills and ability made it obvious to all why she had earned a basketball scholarship to attend Duke University next fall. Many people will remember the 2017 Lady Dark Horse basketball team for all it accomplished. And they will remember the special talents of Mikayla Boykin on the basketball court. But I will remember Mikayla for something quite different.
It was toward the end of the current basketball season, and I was scheduled to referee a 9 and 10 year old game for the Clinton Recreation Dept. The other referee came down sick at the last minute, so I was the only referee there. I was going to have to work the game by myself unless I got some help. Trust me, chasing 9 and 10 year old boys around on a basketball court by yourself is rough. Remember, I’m officially now an old guy, and I’ve got papers from Social Security to prove it.
Mikayla was working that night for the Rec. Dept. They use students on game nights to help set up the scoring table, get the balls, distribute the jerseys to the players, and make sure everything is set up for the games. Mikayla would work some when she didn’t have practice or games. I had become acquainted with Mikayla when she had worked a couple of games I officiated during the football season.
It was game time that night and I was in a jam. I could referee the game by myself, but it wouldn’t be easy. I looked over to Mikayla, who was putting the balls up after warm up. I asked, “Can you help me ref?” About the same time, Brad Spell, one of the coaches came by. “Come on, Mikayla, get out there,” he said. Understandably, she was hesitant.
“But I’ve got boots on, and don’t have a whistle,” she responded. We told her not to worry about it, and that she would do fine. And she did, even though it was not her job that night. Going up and down a basketball court in boots isn’t easy. Not having a whistle, she would yell out violations, like “Foul! Foul!” or “Traveling! Traveling!” (This happens quite a lot when officiating 9 and 10 year olds.)
Everything went smooth, and we got through the game easily. After the game, I told Mikayla how much I appreciated her help. When I got home, I told Terri how much I was impressed by the young lady that helped me officiate. When you help an old guy save a bunch of steps, you make an impression.
In the future, Mikayla Boykin will be remembered by many for how she led the Lady Dark Horses to the state championship in 2017. Many will remember that she holds the single season NCSHAA scoring record. And I’ve got a feeling that many are going to remember her after her playing days are over at Duke.
I’m also going to remember those things. But I’m also going to remember how a young lady helped out this old guy one night at Sunset Ave. gym when she didn’t have to. Mikayla Boykin made an impression that night, not with her abundant basketball skill, but with her character as a young person. And that character, if it continues to be developed, will carry Mikayla far, long after her playing days are over.
Mac McPhail, raised in Sampson County, lives in Clinton and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org