SHAWNEE — It took six hours for Rhett Radcliff from his hometown of Forgan to play in the 47th annual Faith 7 Basketball Bowl Saturday night.
Some of the players on the Texas all-star team had to travel only half the distance to get to Shawnee.
A six-hour car ride might sound drastic to some, simply to take part in an all-star game. For Radcliff and his family, it was just another basketball trip, the type of journey they've been making for years.
“From Forgan, it's a long way to do anything,” Radcliff said with a laugh.
The trip for the Faith 7 Bowl came to a frustrating end, with Radcliff and the Oklahoma all-stars coming out on the bad end of a 107-80 defeat to the Texas team.
Edmond Memorial's James Woodard, a Tulsa signee, was named Oklahoma's MVP with 13 points, while Haworth's Quinton Threadgill and Tulsa Washington's Phabian Glasco had 12 apiece.
But it wasn't enough to match the powerful Texas squad, which got 24 points from Wannah Bail of Lamar Consolidated. Oklahoma signee Je'Lon Hornbeak was Texas' MVP with 12 points and seven assists, while future Oklahoma State guard Philip Forte scored 17 points.
Radcliff contributed four points, three rebounds and an assist for Oklahoma, a respectable showing for the two-time Class B state champion.
Forgan is a town of fewer than 600 people located halfway between Beaver and the Kansas border in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Radcliff and twin brother Ryan accounted for half of the boys in the school's recent graduating class.
“We don't have any restaurants in our town,” Rhett said. “We only have one convenience store, and it closes at 9 every night.”
With two older sisters who also competed in athletics, the whole family has made a hobby out of road trips over the last decade or more — so much that they don't even care to estimate how many hours they've spent in vehicles heading to basketball games and track meets.
“Too much, that's all I know,” said Ryan, who played for the Class B team in the Oklahoma Basketball Coaches Association all-star games earlier in the day at OBU.
“A six-hour trip is not a huge deal. To some people, it's the end of the world. Some people will be griping about a 20-mile trip.”
Last summer, playing for the AAU Oklahoma Wizards, the brothers would travel four-plus hours to Oklahoma City once or twice a week — to practice — then head back the same night.
Last month, the family made its way to Austin, Texas, where sister Kristen was running in a track meet for Oral Roberts.
Rhett figures the Faith 7 game was probably the third game in their high school careers when both brothers weren't on the court together. They'll be back on the same team in college, attending Northwestern Oklahoma State in Alva — and they'll be back on the road, traveling to more games.
For all the places they've been, the brothers have always felt the travel was a good experience.
“I'll admit, it crossed my mind a couple times that it might not be worth it,” Rhett said with a smile. “But it's really fun. We've gotten to know a lot of different people and see a lot of different things.”
More impressive than the mileage logged was the significance of what the Radcliff brothers were able to accomplish with their Forgan teammates last basketball season.
Despite coming from a school with only nine students in the senior class, Forgan lost only one game — to Tulsa Union, which has more than 4,000 total students — on their way to the Class B state championship. That included wins over Class 5A state champion McGuinness and Class 4A state tournament participant Vinita at the Tournament of Champions in Tulsa.
It was the type of season that easily ranks among the state's best ever by a small school. And it landed Rhett on the Faith 7 roster for perhaps the most prestigious all-star game in the state.
Now that he's a few months removed from the season, Rhett has been able to reflect on just how special the season was.
“Right after the season, it was exciting, because we won another state title,” he said. “But with the numbers we have at our school, it's really pretty mind-blowing. With the talent we had at our school, to be able to do what we did was a blessing.”