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Community helping buy champions rings
Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes, left, presents a check to Liberty County basketball coach Julian Stokes to help the team buy championship rings. - photo by Rayfield Gilyard

Liberty County boys’ basketball players are still riding the wave of excitement after winning the class AAAA state championship March 3.
Thursday, Panther basketball coach Julian Stokes received a surprise visit at Midway Middle School, where he teaches.

Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes and business owner Gary Richardson, of Coastal Pawn, congratulated Stokes on the team’s accomplishment. They then donated Stokes $500 each to help the Panthers buy championship rings.
“I want to say thank you to the sheriff, Mr. Richardson and anyone else for their contribution to our program,” Stokes said. “It is highly appreciated and will not go unnoticed.

It’s a great thing knowing that there are people in the community that support you in other ways than just showing up for the game.”
Stokes said the community has rallied around the team throughout the playoffs.
“People have offered donations of money inviting us to banquets and even feeding us with snacks or our pre- and post-game meals while we were playing,” he said.

“The sheriff and I would like to ask the citizens to follow our lead and help these players get the rings they so greatly deserve,” Richardson said.
Sikes said winning the title is a memory the students will cherish for years.
“Those kids worked their hearts out and that is going to be a big piece of the puzzle of their lives for many years to come,” Sikes said. “And I just felt, as a citizen of the county, that we should all come together and at least give them something to commemorate it

Donations can be made at Liberty County High School. The contact person is Christy Balaskiewicz at 876-4091.

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