High school basketball: Struggles help drive siblings from Weleetka
All five Bencoma brothers have been part of football or basketball teams that accomplished something significant in Weleetka. They also deserve credit for another important choice — a decision to keep alcohol out of their lives.
WELEETKA — Go down the line, brother by brother, and you're not going to find one of the Bencomas willing to take any credit for their individual athletic accomplishments at Weleetka High School.
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All five have been part of football or basketball teams that accomplished something significant in the eastern Oklahoma town.
Four of them have helped basketball teams reach the state tournament, just as Shaun Bencoma, the youngest, has done this season. He and the No. 1-ranked Outlaws will face Laverne in the first round of the Class A state tournament at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Southern Nazarene University in Bethany.
None of them are seeking any individual credit, nor are they pumping up the family legacy — which is pretty strong, considering Weleetka has made the state tournament five times in basketball and won two football championships in the last 10 years, with at least one Bencoma brother on each team.
“We know that without those other players out there, we wouldn't have been able to do those things,” said Rodney Bencoma, one of a set of twins who are the oldest siblings in the family. “Me and William, for some reason, we got a lot of the credit, but the other guys on those teams, some unbelievable teammates. We could never take away from what our teammates did for us.”
Rodney's argument stands up, considering there have been some other great players teaming with the Bencomas through the years to keep the Weleetka athletic tradition strong.
However, the area of their lives where the Bencoma brothers should get some deserved credit derives from a decision they each made at a young age — a decision to keep alcohol out of their lives.
It's a valuable decision for any teenager or twenty-something in any town in America. But it's far more important for the Bencoma brothers, as well as their sister, Kristin.
Their father, Anthony, died in 2006. Their mother, Phenie, died last June.
Both were alcoholics who died of liver disease.
Yet it wasn't the death of their parents that turned the Bencomas away from alcohol. That choice came much earlier, and it came from watching what alcoholism did to the lives of the people around them.
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