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Woodside boys basketball state title brings joy to healing community

After a student shot and wounded a teacher at Richneck Elementary on Jan. 6, the Wolverines state title has brought some joy to Newport News.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Woodside High School means everything to Stefan Walsh. After all, it's where his journey with the school began as a basketball star. 

“When I got done playing, I always wanted to be a coach. This is the only high school job I would have taken,” Welsh said. 

“There’s a real emotional attachment to this place. I’m just glad that we were able to rebuild this program and give the younger kids in this city something to look forward to.”

As a player, Welsh helped lead the Wolverines to back-to-back state titles in 2004 and 2005. On Saturday, Welsh delivered the team to its next state title almost two decades later this time in a coaching role. 

“Anytime I walk in this gym, and I look up there and I see the things me and my team were able to accomplish and to have a group of kids from this point on to be able to come into the gym, look up at the wall, and have those fond memories that I have when I look up there, I love that for them," he said.

 "They're going to remember this for the rest of their life.”

When asked if winning it as a player or a coaching is more fulfilling, Welsh didn't stutter. 

“It means more for me as a coach because giving back, that’s why I came back. I came back to give back and be a positive influence not just on this school but to our community as a whole.”

It’s not just that they won the game -- it's how they did it. With the game tied at 52, Woodside guard Trevor Smith got the rebound from a missed Patrick Henry last chance layup.

 Smith brought it coast to coast before missing a last chance layup himself. Senior forward Christian Greenlaw was there for the rebound. His reverse layup dropped through the net as time expired, sending the Wolverines to victory, 54-52. 

“It still feels surreal to win the game for the state championship. It was such an amazing feeling," Greenlaw said. 

With the momentous win, Welsh and his team to have provided light during times of darkness in Newport News, after the recent events at Richneck Elementary School on Jan. 6 when a 6-year-old student shot and wounded a teacher.

“Our school system has been on the wrong side of news recently. I just think that with us doing this it gives the city and the school system something positive to rally behind and bring everybody together.”

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