Lawton_The Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry are celebrating their reign as the 2008 Continental Basketball Association Champions. They brought home the Jay Ramsdell Trophy that is awarded to the winners, and on Friday the City of Lawton rewarded them with a key to the city in recognition of Lawton's first professional sports championship. Comanche County officials praised the players, with County Commissioner Ron Kirby joking that his only complaint was that he didn't make the team.
Nearly 100 fans and city officials showed their support of the team, who they say are doing great things to benefit the community. The Cavalry almost didn't finish the season, as the considered folding due to early financial problems. "At first we were most concerned about finishing the season," says Cavary Co-Owner Mike Brown. "To go from a mindset of we want to finish the season to the championship is an extraordinary feeling."
Now, the team has a key to the city - a city that didn't want to lose them. "Right before the championship series we changed our name from the Oklahoma Cavs to the Lawton-Fort Sill Cavs, and part of our ambitions in our minds were 'Hey, if we win the championship', and we felt like we would, that our rings would say Lawton-Fort Sill," says Brown.
City officials say that having the team here helps the community. "When you look at Lawton, and look at the things we're trying to do for the community, we're trying to make it a better place to live and work and play. This is a component of it," says Lawton Chamber of Commerce President Dana Davis. "Having a professional basketball team adds to the quality of life, which does help people. People want to move where they have that kind of capability of having a professional ball team."
Cavs Coach Michael Ray Richardson thanked the fans, and said he hopes the trophy will bring in more supporters. "When it's something new, people have to start slowly," he says. "But now that we have won a championship I think that it should be a whole lot easier." Mayor Purcell says support for one professional team could lead to others coming to town. "We've got to show we can support the basketball team first," he says. "They stepped forward. We need to fill that Coliseum at every game, and then I think there is opportunity for other minor league teams to come to Lawton."
The team name will be engraved on the base of the trophy, and Coach Richardson says his goal is to win enough championships to have "Cavs" engraved on the trophy more times than any other team.