COLUMBIA — Vencel Tigue is well-versed in the mid-Missouri prep sports scene.
First he was a Moberly Spartan. Then he became a Hickman Kewpie. Now, in his final year of high school, the spirited guard is a Rock Bridge Bruin.
Tigue took to the court in Rock Bridge’s gymnasium for the final time in a game situation Tuesday night, finishing with six points, four rebounds, five assists and a pair of steals in the Bruins’ 90-57 victory against Gateway Tech.
For Tigue, the team’s home finale was a bittersweet experience: His team won and he played well, but the final buzzer sounding served as yet another reminder that he is one step closer to having to leave what he referred to as home and the people he views as family.
“I finally found a home where I could play my senior night,” Tigue said. “Rock Bridge supports me, and I finally feel I’m at home now. It hurts knowing that I’m about to move on.”
Having been familiar with his defensive talent from his season at Hickman, Tigue’s new teammates at Rock Bridge immediately welcomed him with open arms. No animosity existed between the returning Bruins and the former enemy-turned-teammate. Tigue’s new teammates would go out of their way to say hi and greet him in the hallway. All the gestures made Tigue comfortable in his new surroundings.
This wasn’t always the case, though.
The 5-foot-11 vocal leader of the Bruins had a rocky childhood. His mother made sure he attended church every Sunday, but he had an attitude problem. He was cocky and self-centered.
Then he met Terrell Turner.
Turner, an assistant coach at Rock Bridge, has coached Tigue the past four summers in AAU ball.
Turner’s impact on Tigue has been immense and was instrumental in helping him make the transition from Hickman.
“I used to have an attitude, a very bad attitude,” Tigue said. “I used to be cocky, but he humbled me. He taught me more about the game of basketball and with the game moving at such a fast pace to play with your mind more than anything else.”
Now Tigue says all the credit goes to Turner, who said he is proud of how far Tigue has come both on and off the court.
“He’s a real good people person, he’s always fun to be around and whenever he plays he gives you 110 percent,” Turner said. “Doing all that, what’s not to like about him?”
And now, when the team faces adversity, it’s Tigue they turn to.
“When anything’s uptight, you just have to look at him for the fix,” Turner said.