The Last Shot: A Season Like No Other (1980 Luxora Panthers) Last Shot” is told from my point of view, first person, as I remember it, or better said, as I imagine to have remembered it, especially the night of the surreal game we played in Hayti that year…

Forgive me if I let my imagination get the best of me, replaying that unforgettable & unreal night, again, in my mind. How did it happen?

Some memories are better when they are forgotten, and others, with better memories, tell the story. Anyway, the Hayti game made me into a larger than life legend long after I was gone. Sometimes, when I hear the story of that night be told, I ask myself, “Who are they talking about?
Incredible, but true, it’s me, although I can barely recognize myself in the story…

Yet, in a larger sense, this book is a tribute to one of the greatest teams I know, the mighty Luxora Panthers of 1980 (State Runner-Up). We were coached by Coach Charles Strong, a legend in his own time.

We were a team of destiny, winning against all odds, beating every team we played in the regional and state championship playoffs.

The final game, was anticlimactic after the Regionals, because we were not supposed to be there, in the state finals. No one expected us to advance past the Regionals, and when we did, they called us, “Luck-sora”, instead of Luxora. They said it was luck, but we knew better. The last shot was what we played for. We owned the last shot, it was in our blood.

To get to the final, we had a date with destiny, no, to be exact, several dates with destiny, and always, it was always the last shot that decided our fate. That is the larger story told in this book. Yet there is an even greater story than that, because holding the entire story together is our legendary Coach, Coach Charles Strong.

Yes, a legend I say, that’s what happens when you leave your mark, a tremendous legacy, on those lives you touch when you walk the Earth. Coach Charles Strong, you will meet him within the pages of this book, and you will truly know why he is a legend. His story is our story, and our story, is his story, for we shared our fate and met our destiny together, this team did.

You will find Coach Strong is a hero, a legend, not because of anything extraordinary that he did. No, Coach Charles Strong is a legend because of the extraordinary way he did ordinary things, turning young boys into men of character, with values and principles, year in and year out, through teaching us the game of basketball. Through his guidance and leadership, we became a team that was greater than the sum of its individual parts…

This is a “feel good” story, true stories are like that, they make you feel so good you go ahead and cry because it was so good to you as you read the book. It’s OK, go ahead and cry, I did as I wrote this book, reliving magical moments all over again..

Finally, “The Last Shot” makes the effort to keep something alive, a memory of a moment in time I shared with some very special people from a small town called Luxora, Arkansas, my hometown, population 1,317.

Don’t bother looking for Luxora on the map. Be content to know it is located about 4 miles east of Osceola, Arkansas on Highway 61… or 12 miles west of Blytheville, Arkansas, same highway.

One of the most defining characteristics of a small town in Arkansas is the quality and traditions of its local high school sports teams. In 1980, I had the great fortune to be a member of two of Luxora’s greatest sports teams ever: the State Championship track and field team of 1980 and the State Runner-Up basketball team of 1980.

This book, about the Luxora Panthers basketball team of 1980, is a memoir of sorts, pieced together from my memories and from news clippings about our team. It’s a way for me to go back, in my mind’s eye, like a bird high in the sky, and look once again upon my Luxora, as I remember it to be. I thank you kindly, if you decide to join me on this journey back to Luxora, Arkansas, home of the mighty Luxora Panthers


About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
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