Last Modified: Saturday, February 15, 2014 1:16 PM
SULPHUR — It was the end of an era in Sulphur on Friday as Clint LeBato roamed the sidelines in his final home game after 30 years of coaching at the high school.
The Golden Tors sent LeBato out on a high note, holding on for a 27-24 win over rival Barbe, as a Bucs 3-point attempt missed the mark at the buzzer.
“It’s been a great rivalry, Barbe and Sulphur,” LeBato said. “We’ve had some great battles over the years, and this is another one. It always comes down to the buzzer, and once again, it did. It was nice to get that last one.”
LeBato, who spent his last 24 years as the Tors’ head coach, amassed a 481-344 record since taking over in 1990.
In those 481 wins, LeBato’s Tors racked up three district championships and 16 playoff appearances.
The 2003-04 team was the most successful under LeBato, making it to the Class 5A semifinals.
Assistant coach Clopha Boudreaux spoke at the pre-game ceremony celebrating LeBato’s career.
“He’s the fiercest competitor I’ve ever been associated with,” Boudreaux said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s ping pong or casting a bait, he is a competitor. He makes a game out of anything. He’s probably the most knowledgeable guy I’ve ever seen at diagramming plays. He’s taught us an awful lot.”
In the ceremony, LeBato was met at midcourt by his current and former players as well as his family and received a standing ovation from the crowd.
Even though it was his final home game, LeBato’s competitive nature was on display early and often. Just 10 seconds into the game, he was debating a call with the referees, and when the final buzzer sounded, LeBato tossed his towel to the top of the gym in celebration.
“I’ll miss games like tonight,” he said. “The competition — and big rivalry games — is something I’m going to miss.”
A Sulphur grad, LeBato said while coaching in his hometown could bring extra pressure, he’s taken pleasure in the challenge.
“We’ve had some great teams over the years with a lot of great memories,” he said. “The community is really supportive of the school, being a one-school community. It’s been a great run, and I’ve enjoyed it.”
LeBato said he doesn’t have anything special planned for his newfound free time, other than relaxing and enjoying it.