Emotional homecoming for players

Published 10:14 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fisher College senior forward Kyndal Jones and sophomore forward Curtis Roberts, formerly of King's Fork High School, enjoyed playing on Dec. 20 in their first game back in the Hampton Roads area since they began playing at the collegiate level. They both got minutes in a competitive 82-73 loss to The Apprentice School in Newport News.

A Dec. 20 collegiate match-up in Newport News between The Apprentice School and Fisher College of Boston, Mass., turned out to be an emotional homecoming game for two former members of the King’s Fork Bulldogs.

Senior forward Kyndal Jones and redshirt sophomore forward Curtis Roberts graduated from King’s Fork in 2009 and 2010, respectively, and now play for Fisher College. This game represented the first time they had played in the Hampton Roads area since high school. Even more significant, it was also the first time Jones’ and Roberts’ parents were able to watch them play on the collegiate level.

“It’s great,” Roberts said after the game. “I’m just excited to see my family again. Never a better feeling than being home. I haven’t been home in like five months.”

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Though neither Jones nor Roberts start, they both got playing time and contributed to a competitive game, but the Builders (9-5) ultimately pulled away with an 82-73 win.

“You want to make your own family and your friends proud, everybody that watched you in high school,” Jones said. “We wanted that win, we didn’t get it, but we worked hard for it, we wanted it. That’s all we could do.”

Jones played 18 minutes and finished with five points, two rebounds, an assist and a steal.

King’s Fork head coach Josh Worrell was in attendance, along with assistant coach Theotis Porter, to support their former players.

“It was a unique experience,” Worrell said of watching them play. “It’s a great opportunity to see what kids can do if they keep their mind to what they want to do, keep working hard and not think people are going to give them something. They work for everything they get and the kids are very grateful and very respectful.”

Worrell recalled how Jones and Roberts were both a part of the 2008-09 Bulldogs squad that won the state championship. He noted that people tend to remember players from that team like Jaquon Parker, Jay Copeland, Davante Gardner and Jamar Wertz, but Jones and Roberts were significant too.

“They were pieces to what we did, whether people realize it or not,” he said.

Jones’ mother, Rhonda Hester, was in attendance and quite proud of her son. She explained the initial difficulty imposed by his distance from home.

“It was very hard, very hard, just the commute from Virginia to Boston,” she said. “But when I found that that he was coming to Virginia, I wasn’t going to miss the game. I was not going to miss it for anything in the world.”

Fisher College head coach David Lindberg had nothing but good things to say about his two players from Suffolk.

“We’ve been planning this game since Kyndal was a freshman, so four years ago, or at least a game down this way,” he said. “I don’t know what it is about the kids down here, in general. They’re such good, hard-working guys, and I have nothing but good things to say about them. They play their tails off every night, they show up positive every day, and just get the job done.”

He indicated that having both of them play in the game was not something he contrived to happen; it was something they had earned.

“They’re in our rotation, both of them,” he said. “And Kyndal, he’s been here for four years. He’s always been that workhorse who deserves his minutes because he gets it done in practice. Curt, on the other side of things, he’s had a tough go of it because he was an academic redshirt as a freshman. Last year, he had a knee surgery, and so this is his first year really playing and he’s worked his backside off to earn his minutes.”

Jones and Roberts played against some of the Builders’ players from Suffolk, including Nansemond River grads Jay Melendez and Latrone Demiel and Lakeland’s Rodney Goodman.

Though both players indicated their basketball careers would likely end at the conclusion of college, they have a lot of family locally and expressed willingness to return if the right opportunity presented itself.

“If I can find a job out here, yeah, I’ll definitely come back,” Jones said. “I like it out here, I love it.”