King Guides Alma Mater To Class D Sectional Crown
Scissors in his right hand, Irv King cuts through the last strand of the net that hangs from the rim at one end of the Clymer Central School gym.
While a maroon mask covers his mouth and nose, one doesn’t have to guess how the Pirates’ boys basketball coach feels on this Saturday afternoon in late March.
King’s eyes are “smiling.”
And rightfully so.
Even in the midst of a global pandemic, his team is on top of the world.
A year ago, Clymer was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Section VI Class D playoffs, courtesy of a blowout loss to rival Sherman.
“We talked all year how important that home-court advantage could be,” King said. “In a year of COVID, one of the carrots that sat out there was the No. 1 seed and how you could host every (playoff) game.”
So the Pirates won 13 of 14 regular-season contests to secure that top seed and then dispatched North Collins and neighboring Sherman in convincing fashion to claim the sectional crown.
“Is it special?” King asked rhetorically after the win over the Wildcats. “I don’t ever remember a time where anybody played a sectional championship on their home floor. It was a chance to do something — in the 45 years I’ve been watching ball — that nobody would have a chance to do.”
To suggest King is a student of the game would be an understatement. Clymer basketball, after all, is in his blood as he has watched and/or played it since he was a little boy. So to come away with a sectional crown was, in his eyes, a “special moment to be in your confines.”
From the beginning of the title game, the Pirates looked right at home.
Leading Sherman, 12-7, after the first quarter, the Pirates went on a 19-4 run in the final 6.5 minutes before halftime to open up a 34-13 advantage at the break. Clymer was never seriously challenged the rest of the way.
“I’m so pleased with how they performed,” King said afterward. “It felt like we prepared and planned and, boy, they executed fantastic for me.”
That “fantastic execution” continued postgame during which each player received a blue sectional title patch and then climbed a ladder to cut down some twine for an all-time souvenir.
“Honestly, there will be a picture of this team that will probably have this mounted somewhere with it at the house,” King said as the remainder of the net covered a portion of his necktie that had basketball images on it. “They’ve been a special group. In the year of COVID, we truly talked about every day just being a great day to play ball.
“That kind of became a motto.”
And for the coach who grew up in Clymer, played basketball at Clymer and now coaches at Clymer, he can add something else to his anticipated memorabilia display from the 2020-21 season.
King is The Post-Journal/OBSERVER’s boys Coach of the Year.