For several winters now Tyler Spargo has been heating up the Gary Filbert Court at Mexico High School as part of the Bulldogs varsity basketball squad alongside teammates Matthew Huffman and Jonathon Grubb.
While Huffman and Grubb recently signed with Westminster College to play football, on Thursday at the high school Spargo was able to keep the trio together, just not on the same playing field. Instead the Bulldogs senior signed his National Letter of Intent to join the Bluejays basketball program starting this fall, a move he made with little hesitation and a smile that spanned from one ear to the other.
"Westminster was just an obvioius choice right off the bat. Once Westminster reached out to me and I started looking into it I didn't really consider many other schools after that," said Spargo. "Once I found out a couple of my buddies were going there, it made me a little more comfortable about the jump to college. I've also played against some of the players who will be my teammates, which helps a lot."
Because the atmosphere surrounding the Westminter basketball program is somewhat relaxed, Spargo, who plans to major in Business or Finance, feels the jump from prep to collegiate athletics is one he should be able to manage. He also likes the small, centralized layout of the campus and thinks this situation as a whole is the type of place that will allow him to thrive.
"I believe Mexico, especially basetball with coach (Dzarren) Pappas, he's really prepared me to go to the next level. Always being ready for practice and competing everyday, I feel like that really helped me get from where I was at to where I wanted to be," Spargo said. "I'ver always been able to keep up with my homework. The teachers here have been real helpful and thats how they are at Westminster, too. If I ever have a problem there are real small class sizes, so I'll be able to get help if I need it."
This season with the Bulldogs in Spargos final season on the hardwood the team finished the regular season at 14-11 overall. Mexico then played an incredibly close first round Class 4, District 8, game at Hannibal against St. Dominic's that went back-and-forth for all four quarters and ended with Spargo and company getting edged out at the very end 49-48.
"It's an exciting time to watch Tyler committ to a good school and a good program. We're excited to watch him play at the next level and we know he's going to do great," Pappas said. "He's going to succeed on and off the basketball court because he's a good all-around person. We're really excited for him. We've got some big shoes to fill with him leaving, but we're excited about what's coming back. We've got some young guys coming in, so hopefully they can fill in for what he's done."
As a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's third division, Westminster plays in the Saint Louis Intercollegiate Athletic League. Last season the Blue Jays went 14-12 overall, 10-8 SLIAC, and ended the year on a four-game losing streak. This includes falling to Greenville 125-112 in the semifinals of their conference tournament on Feb. 22.
"Westminster is getting a heck of as athlete. He's definitely going to be a good player for that program. He's still got some areas that he's going to have to improve on defensively, but he's a hard worker and we have no doubt he's going to exceed our expectations," said Pappas. "Off the court Spargo is a great student. He stays on top of his grades and he's real serious about his studies. We know he's going to do great things."