|For Pettit, it's all basketball, all the time|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
Jan. 20, 2006 - Sulphur Springs senior Sam Pettit, he eats, sleeps and breaths basketball.
Pettit, the son of Tyjuana and Ernie Pettit, has gone from playing for Class A Sulphur Bluff to a sixth-man role at Sulphur Springs while also spending his summer break in the Amateur Athletics Union basketball league where he travels all over the country.
The Amateur Athletics Union league is one of the largest, non-profit, volunteer sports organizations in the United States. A multi-sport organization, the AAU is dedicated exclusively to the promotion and development of amateur sports and physical fitness programs, according to its website.
"We go to Kansas, Houston and a bunch of Dallas tournaments and we play all over the place and there are a bunch of college scouts at the AAU games," Pettit added.
"On my team, we were sponsored by Larry Johnson last year and this year we are sponsored by NIKE, possibly in a commercial, and we get to play in Las Vegas and California."
Pettit made the transfer to Sulphur Springs during the summer and said it has been an interesting year as a Wildcat.
"The school transition was awesome because I liked a lot of the people and I have a lot more friends than I did at Sulphur Bluff," he said. "The basketball transition was, honestly with the district that we played in, it was a little jump but with the AAU games that I played during the summer I played 4A and 5A kids and it is way more competition than Class A teams."
Pettit is joined on the team by junior Josh Danzer, a former Sulphur Bluff teammate.
"Last year, me and Josh didn't get along at all and this year we have gotten along good and I am glad that he came here because he decided to come here before me," Pettit said.
Pettit is averaging 4.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 0.8 steals in 20 games this year. He is shooting 29-of-139 from the field (28.1 percent) and 13-of-34 from the line (38.2 percent).
His best game of the year was against Whitewright when he went 5-of-12 from the field for 13 points, four rebounds, six assists and two steals.
"Coach told me before I got in trouble that I would have been starting and I would have played a lot more," he said. "Coming from scoring 20-to-30 points a game at Sulphur Bluff to 4.9 points is not very good for me."
With five seniors on the team after the recent addition of senior Josh Riley, Pettit said even though the record is disappointing the season has been fun.
"It has been great and they are a bunch of great guys," Pettit said. "One night, me and Josh were playing at the park and the next day he told me that he wanted to come out. I said, 'Do it, man and if he says no then it won't hurt us, but if he says yes then that is going to be good.' I love playing with Josh this season.
"Me and Jay (Pope) played with each other before this season, and (Jeff) Kramer, Jose (Vargas) and all of them are great to play with and they are friends of mine."
With eight games remaining in the season, Sulphur Springs is currently 6-17 overall and 0-2 in district play with a critical game at Greenville tonight in a 7:15 p.m. tipoff.
"Honestly, I think that we can make it to the playoffs and we have a very, very hard district, and if you beat one of the top teams you can basically beat them all," said Pettit. "Right now, the standings are Paris, Mount Pleasant and Greenville at 2-0 and the rest of us are 0-2. If we can put it together during the next couple of games, I think we can get into the playoffs."
Pettit said Vargas and Pope are instrumental in terms of leadership before and during games.
"The senior situation is we are all leaders and Jose is one that when we are down he basically tells us how it is going to be," he said. "Jay gets us pumped before the game and I just try to hold us together when we all go crazy."
With a drought in terms of postseason appearances, Pettit said it would mean a lot for them to get in and also mentioned players from the junior varsity and freshman teams that will help the program in the future.
"If we do get into the playoffs, I hope it tells everybody that it can be done by Sulphur Springs and when Tyrick (Rollison) and all of the underclassman get up to varsity, I think they are going to have a really good team and they've got to focus on that," he said. "If we don't win, we've got to encourage them what to do when they do get to varsity, and that is all that we can do."