Monday night was one of the toughest things Anthony Odunsi has had to go through in his high school career.
There was his team, state-ranked Travis High School out of the highly touted Fort Bend ISD, playing its first playoff game of the season without him in the lineup. Odunsi, an Iowa State signee, and nationally heralded 2013 twins Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison were serving a one-game suspension for a fight amongst themselves during last Tuesday's UIL District 23-5A finale against Fort Bend Austin.
Odunsi, nicknamed "Papa," was not in uniform in Monday's UIL Class 5A Region III bi-district playoff against Clear Lake, but he sat on the front row of the stands near the bench, watching his teammates rally from a double-digit lead to beat Clear Lake, 66-62.
And when the smoke cleared, he stood tall -- almost like a proud papa would.
"I am very proud. They fought to the end and never gave up," Odunsi said. "They deserve it. I'm proud of those guys. It hurt, and it was unfortunate that I had to be watching from the stands, but I put all my pride aside and cheered my team on."
Odunsi was Travis' biggest fan Monday night, and for this reason, he's looked at as a leader on that team. He knew what happened last Tuesday was wrong, and he was willing to accept the consequences. The senior guard also was big enough to sit in the stands and watch his team, knowing that there were fans who were watching him -- particularly when Travis (30-5) trailed, 29-19, in the second quarter.
Travis, No. 11 in the state, never gave up and battled back in the fourth quarter. Reggie Davis took over the game and filled in the scoring void, scoring nine of his game-high 20 points in the final four minutes of the fourth quarter. Without Odunsi and the Harrisons in the lineup, Travis was missing more than half of the team's scoring production.
"It was very tough for me," Odunsi said, referring to sitting on the sidelines. "My team and I are very close. Every time something happened, my teammates were looking up at me. I just kept saying, 'Y'all will be fine,' and they were."
Odunsi and the Harrisons -- who were not in attendance Monday -- now will await pending decisions from head coach Craig Brownson, Travis High School higher-ups and other district officials to determine if they will be eligible for the team's area-round game later this week. Odunsi said that even after the incident, he has no disdain for the Harrisons and hopes they all get a chance to play together again.
"We're family," Odunsi said. "We get into altercations, but that's what makes us strong. I have nothing against them."
Odunsi continued: "I just want to apologize to anyone who heard or saw my childish behavior. I am human, and we make mistakes. I'm glad I'm getting to learn from it while I'm young."