On Saturday, I had one of those moments when I thought I had slipped into a time warp.
I was taking in the men’s basketball contest between Vance County High School and Person High in Roxboro. It had been probably seven or eight years since I covered a game there, at the same annual Thanksgiving hoops showcase. Back then, Wilton Baskett was coaching Northern Vance, which always participated in what was then known as the Courier-Times Thanksgiving Classic.
As Saturday’s game went on, I thought about Coach Baskett and how the blue and gold of Northern Vance had become the green and black of Vance County.
That part was different, although the Vipers are coached by one of Baskett’s former players, Chad Wilson.
The stands were filled, a common occurrence for Person athletic events, and that felt familiar. They love their Rockets in Roxboro.
I thought about the epic showdowns between J.F. Webb and Person in 2013 featuring Isaiah Hicks for the Warriors and Ty Outlaw for the Rockets. Hicks went on to start at UNC and win a national championship while Outlaw had a solid career for Virginia Tech, averaging 8.6 points his senior year.
Charles Dacus is still the coach for Person, having assumed that position in 2007, and his team looked, actually, much like I last remember: athletic, talented and well-coached.
One player caught my eye for Person. Listed at 6 feet, 8 inches tall, No. 35 was the most dynamic player on the floor, possessing an unmatched physical presence in this contest. He soared to the basket for a thunderous one-handed finish on a breakaway and later slammed home a fast-break alley-oop with two hands, much to the home spectators’ delight.
After the game, I snagged the scorebook to see what No. 35’s name was. The name I saw next to No. 35 was “Ty Outlaw.”
For maybe just a split second, I thought had traveled back in time.
Then I wondered whether it was a joke.
Next, I asked Dacus, who informed me the mystery player was, in fact, Ty Outlaw’s brother. “Same name?” I asked incredulously.
No. This Outlaw, a junior, is named Tymaureon. And the brother I’m familiar with is officially Tyrone Outlaw Jr., son of a star high school player in the 1990s for Person who committed to N.C. State before finding himself in legal trouble.
Pointing, Dacus told me, “There’s [Tymaureon’s] brother right there in the gray hoodie.”
Sure enough. Ty Outlaw — the Virginia Tech Ty Outlaw — had been in the building the whole time.
Of course, these family ties aren’t as revelatory for people in Person County. They’ve probably been following Tymaureon since he was in elementary school. “You know Ty. That’s Ty’s brother. And Ty’s son.”
For me, it was a blast from the not-so-distant past.
High school sports are good for that. Even when things seem to be changing, pieces of the past are still there to be found, still there to hang on to.
Until it’s time for the next generation of Ty Outlaws to suit up.
Last week, I incorrectly reported that UNC’s football team needed to beat N.C. State to become bowl eligible. In fact, the Tar Heels, now 6-6 after their loss to the Wolfpack, had already become bowl eligible the prior week with a victory over Wofford, a one-win team from the Division I FCS ranks. Does that make you feel any better if you’re a UNC fan?
I didn’t think so.