CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - West Charlotte High School Boy's Basketball Team was treated to a hero's welcome at CN Jenkins Presbyterian Church Thursday. The church provided the team a spaghetti dinner before the team is scheduled to travel to play in the state championship game. The team leaves Friday morning.
"It's just amazing everything that has happened in the last couple of weeks," West Charlotte High School Point Guard Basketball Player Cartier Jernigan said. "How the city come behind us and the West Charlotte alumni - see how they supported us is truly amazing and a blessing it is to go to West Charlotte."
The team experienced a racial incident while on the journey to the state championship. A few weeks ago Ardrey Kell High School Basketball player used a racial slur toward West Charlotte High School on social media. It was posted the day before Ardrey Kell Basketball team was to play West Charlotte High School in the regional semi-finals.
"Our kids could have taken it the wrong way," West Charlotte HS Boy's Head Basketball Coach Jacoby Davis said. "And in this time of day it could have easily gone where our kids were out of control and upset, but the thing is - we talked about it in the locker room that that's not us. We are a family. We are going to stick together. We'll get through it. We'll make it work and that's what we did."
West Charlotte High School went on to defeat Ardrey Kell. The coach turned that negative experience into a positive.
"That was a little extra something to get us going to get us pumped up," Jacobs said. "To have us to believe in ourselves even more as West Charlotte Lions. That was a little jump start to even help get to the rest of the playoffs."
CN Jenkins church family wanted to let the team know they were proud of their hard work and how they handled sensitive situation. They cheered the team as they came in for dinner. Graduates from West Charlotte High School from as far back as1960 were part of the crowd to serve the team dinner. Players say the generosity they witnessed proved they are not alone.
"It's basically bigger than basketball," Jernigan said. "That you are playing for more than just the school, you are playing for the community and the city. It means a lot."
The last time West Charlotte HS won a state championship for boy's basketball was in 2011. The team says it worked hard this year to get to the Championship. The team stated this was the year for them to get to the championship at the beginning of the season. That's why the coach said getting to the Championship was not a surprise but a blessing. The team says they will play it cool out on the court but at the same time give it all they have.
"Let them know everything is going to be alright," Jernigan said. "It's just 32 minutes. We need to play all 32 minutes hard."
West Charlotte High School plays South Central in the championship Saturday afternoon in Raleigh.