Kyle’s Korner …
The Daily Mail of Charleston came out with a list of the top 100 players of the West Virginia state tournament history and the top 100 coaches.
This was because this year’s tourney was the 100th annual state tournament for the Mountain State.
Mingo County was well represented on both lists.
Williamson had two players on the list. They were former All-Americans Mark Cline and Anthony Strother, who were both the state’s Player of the Year following their senior seasons.
Billy Erwin, the former Burch all-state point guard, was also on the list of the top 100 performers.
Lewis Hale, a member of Kermit’s 1964 Class A state championship team, was also on the list. Hale went on to play at WVU.
Personally, I think Barry Baker from the back-to-back Wolfpack state championship teams in 1988-89 should have made the list. I also believe Bill Craig of Williamson’s 1964-65 teams could have easily made the list, as-well-as Billy Stratton and Scott Caudill of the Burch Bulldogs.
But, with these kinds of lists, looking back over 100 years of basketball, people are forgotten. I am sure there are fans from other locales that think certain players or coaches from their area should have been on the list.
Other names from neighboring southern counties that were recognizable included Willie Akers of Mullens, Russell Todd of Northfork, Vic Herbert of Logan and Mike D’Antoni.
There were plenty of players listed that went on to professional careers. Of course the most prominent were Jerry West, Hal Greer, Rod Thorn, Fritz Williams and Jason Williams. Current NBA players are O. J. Mayor and Patrick Patterson. West, Greer and Thorn played in Williamson one point in their careers.
Several coaches from Mingo County were on the list of the top 100 coaches who paraded the sidelines at the state tourney.
They included three from Williamson High School. George Ritchie, Allan Hatcher and David Hatfield all made the list.
The late John Preece of Kermit also made the list.
Former Burch coach Mike Smith was selected as one of the top 100 coaches who made it and won state titles. Bill Young, who coached the 1957 Class B state title team from Burch, was on the list. Young later won an AA title at Dunbar.
Many wonder why former Burch coach John Maynard did not make the list. I have to agree. Perhaps Boyce Preece, who led Kermit to an undefeated season and Class A title in 1964, should have also made the list. But once again, these lists are interesting and can always be discussed and debated back and forth.
Although Tug Valley is relatively a young school, it had two coaches on the list. Garland “Rabbit” Thompson and Frankie Smith were both listed in the top 100.
Bob Meade of Lenore and Chattaroy was also on the list.
Willie Akers made this list too as the coach of the Logan Wildcats. He was also on the top players list. Vic Herbert, like Akers, also made both lists as a player and coach.
Mark Hatcher, the current coach of the Wildcats, also made the list. This gave the top 100 at father-son duo in the top 100.
There were many legendary coaches on the list that are familiar names to high school basketball fans around the state. They included Dave Barksdale of Beckley Woodrow Wilson, Bill Young of Dunbar, Don Nuckols and Lewis D’Antoni both of Mullens, Harry Kirk of Harts, Ergie Smith of Gary District, Don Smith of Huntington Vinson and Tolsia, Tex Williams of St. Albans, and many more.
State Tourney Notes:
Although the 100th anniversary state tournament is over with, I still have a few notes that I wanted to share with our readers.
Tug Valley made history by winning back-to-back championships in two different classes. Williamson could have done that back in 1964 and 1965, but they lost to Beckley in the championship game after moving up from AA to AAA.
* Tug Valley is the first public school to win the Class A title since 2001. Williamson won it that year. Since that time, it has been the private Catholic schools who have dominated the Single A tourney.
* Anthony Eads of state AA champion Bluefield is the son of Mike Eads, who is a referee in the ACC and other D-1 conferences. Wolfpack fans might remember that name. The elder Eads was a guard on the 1981 Princeton Tiger team that upset Williamson in the AAA final. Eads hit a couple of crucial free throws to help beat Mark Cline and WHS. Eads drove back down to Greensboro and called the ACC championship game on Sunday.
* Bluefield is the team that Tug Valley defeated for the AA crown last year. The Panthers defeated last year’s defending Class A state title Charleston Catholic to win the crown this year. Many fans and sports writers in Charleston were saying Tug Valley was one of the best teams in the state regardless of class. Bluefield has its top seven players back next season.
*Tug Valley’s players had some of the best overall stats at the state tournament. Austin Brewer was leading Class A in assists heading into the finals on Saturday. Tug Valley had three players in the top four in steals, led by Mikey Newsome, who was first in that category, then Aaron Muncy third and Austin Brewer in fourth. All three made the Class A all-tourney team.
Thomas Baisden was fourth in offensive rebounds. Many felt Baisden should have also gotten on the all-tournament team. It is rare that four from one team makes the 8-member team.
Newsome and Baisden were both in the top 10 in scoring average in the state tourney.
Hayden Sturgell, Tug’s 6th man, was in the top three in field goal percentage.
* There is no doubt Tug Valley, once again, made an impression at the state tournament.
The All-State teams for both the boys and girls will be released this week. Usually the girls’ team is released one week and the boy’s the next week, but the W.Va. Sportswriters Association voted to go ahead and release both teams in the coming days.
(Kyle Lovern is the sports editor for the Williamson Daily News. Comments or story ideas can be sent to or firstname.lastname@example.org)