Mother Titiq Shelvy (left) and Katina Overton walk with senior Jah’Ques Shelvy.
Coaches Eric Gracia and Jeremy Mason walk with senior Matthew Baker.
The North Dallas boys basketball team didn’t win many games this season, but Coach Jeremy Mason still praised his eight hard-working, nonstop players.
“The best group of kids I’ve ever had,” Mason said last week before the game against Pinkston at Cobb Field House. “I expressed this to our principal and I expressed this to other coaches on campus. When people ask “Coach, how is the team doing?’ All along I’ve been saying, I don’t know how many games we’re going to win, but I really like this team.
“I’ve been saying that the whole time. But there were reasons for that. They made my life easier when they showed up for practice every day. At least we knew when we came out for a game, we had a game plan, we were all there. Sometimes the game plan doesn’t go as. .. You can’t really practice the conditioning in a real game. The fact that we were all together watching film. The fact that we knew ‘Hey, No. 5 is a shooter.’ We were all on the same accord. This is the best group of kids I’ve had in my entire time I’ve been here.”
The Bulldogs didn’t win that night against the Pinkston Vikings in a District 12-4A game. Matthew Baker scored 18 points and Jah’Ques Shelvy had 14 in the loss.
The North Dallas seniors — Vernell Lee, Matthew and Jah’Ques — were recognized in a pregame ceremony. Vernell wasn’t able to attend because he had “pink eye,” Coach Mason said.
Coach Mason had a few words to say about his seniors:
From left: Katina Overton, Jah’Ques Shelvy, mom Titiq Shelvy, head coach Jeremy Mason, Ethel Mangram, senior Matthew Baker and assistant coach Eric Gracia.
“Matthew Baker is somebody that Coach Gracia and I had talked about maybe shedding some tears for as he kinda walks on Senior Night. Maybe because we know his personal life and the challenges he’s faced. But he’s grown so much as a young man. As a basketball player, he’s very, very passionate and he loves the game … so whatever fundamentals he didn’t have or whatever skills he didn’t have, he’s made it up for with his grit, his determination and also his dedication. He’s never missed a practice, barring any injury, never missed a game and he’s been a joy to be around. … He’s come a long way. His passon and his grit is something we’re going to miss immensely. He’s somebody we can always count on being there and showing up.”
Senior Vernell Lee wasn’t able to attend Senior Night on Wednesday because of “pink eye.”
“For Vernell Lee, it’s really bittersweet for me,” Mason continued. “I think his potential has always been flying through the roof. Since this was his first year of really playing a full year, it’s the first year people got to see him actually play. He never had played before. When we go watch film, we see things like this kid is really fast. He’s about 6-1 or 6-2, and he can really stretch the floor. He’s plays a big for us and he can shoot the ball. He’s had some huge games. He played great against Life Oak Cliff and he played great in our win over Sunset. So whatever games we’ve won this year, he’s been a major part in what we do. We’re going to miss him a lot. We’re going to miss his size. We like him in the locker room. … He was determined to play this year. To not let anything or anyone hold him back. I think when he graduates he can walk out and say, ‘Man, I did it. I did it. I got to play. I got the experience.’ We hate it that it wasn’t all four years, but it’s not everybody’s story.
“Jah’Ques Shelvy, on the other hand, he’s the opposite of Vernell Lee. He came in as a top tier athlete to North Dallas. He was a transfer from South Oak Cliff. Everybody loved him right away. He played football clearly and was a really good football player for us. In basketball, he does the same thing. He’s a jack of all trades, he can do everything. But really, does a good job of being a defensive presence. We’re going to miss him a lot because he’s a really good teammate. He doesn’t complain. He’s quiet but at practice, not really. He talks, he’s energetic. We can put him almost anywhere. Sometimes he handles the ball for us. Sometimes I get on to these kids but you don’t realize, he’s playing the full game. Shelvy is one of those guys. He helps you more than he hurts you. You just leave him out there, he can do it all.”
Mason said the seniors were like his own children. The boys played hard every game, going nonstop the whole game.
“Hopefully, they set the standard for what North Dallas basketball is trying to be about, which is commitment to what you do, dedication both on and off the floor,” Mason said. “Also, just being available, being ready at all times. All three of those guys are, and we’re going to miss them. I love them to death like my own children. It’s always bittersweet saying good-bye to these seniors. Always.”
Mason wished the Bulldog seniors had won more games during their careers.
“We don’t win a lot of games,” Mason said. “It is hard. It’s hard on the heart, it’s hard on the body, it’s hard on the mind, but nobody quits.”
Matthew receives his gift from Ethel Mangram (left) as he poses with Coach Eric Gracia.
The North Dallas cheerleaders hold signs for the three seniors — Matthew Baker, Vernell Lee and Jah’Ques Shelvy.