Rector High School Sports HOF Honors Inductees
A large collection of athletes, fans and family gathered in the school cafeteria Saturday to take part in the third annual Rector High School Sports Hall of Fame Luncheon.
The event served to honor 2012 inductees Roma Nell Bullock Sanders, Bobby Tracer, Kelly Scobey, Jason Manchester and Matt Mills, as well as all those who have been involved in Rector, Greenway and Clay County Central athletics.
The induction ceremony began after a delicious meal arranged by Tracy Horton.
At the time inductee Roma Nell Bullock Sanders played senior high basketball, 1950-1952, the women's game was barely recognizable by today's format. During the aforementioned period, the game was played on only one half of the court. Additionally, guards played only defense and forwards played only offense.
Players had two very distinct roles, but Sanders shined at both.
While women's games were traditionally low-scoring outings, the offensive capacity of Rector noticeably increased with Sanders at forward. Though scorebooks for this period are not available, clippings from key games have been found in copies of the Clay County Democrat from the period. In 1951, she scored an incredible 31 points in a victory over Greenway, an output which was all but unheard of at the time. The win was part of an 11-game stretch in which she netted 118 points, including a 30 point outing against Knobel in the Clay County Tournament and had a pair of 20 point performances against Piggott en route to a Rector championship in the tourney.
Sanders was an All-Clay County selection and was heralded by the Democrat as "the best all-around forward in the county."
Sanders was introduced by Mark Manchester.
"Before I learned about how good she was at basketball, I figured out that she knew an awful lot about the game from talking to her and getting to know her over the years," Mark Manchester said. "As I learned more about her skill as a player, I realized just how she came to know so much. She was that good that game just came to her naturally."
Sanders thanked the Hall of Fame Selection Committee for choosing her for induction. She attributed her introduction to basketball to her first coach.
"I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for one man, Les McKeel," Sanders said. Sanders said she attended a one-room schoolhouse through the eighth grade, coming to Rector in the ninth. When McKeel saw her in the gym playing with the boys, he immediately recruited her to the girls' team. From there, her skills quickly became apparent to everyone else, first as a defender and then as a potent scorer.
Mark Manchester introduced his brother, Jason Manchester, a 1993 graduate of Clay County Central.
Netting over 2,000 points in his three years of varsity hoops, Jason Manchester was named All-District in all three years of high school. He was voted All-Region as a junior. He was recognized among the Best Under the Sun as a sophomore, junior and senior, as well.
He posted a career-best 42 points in a tough 80-79 overtime loss to Marmaduke. Other games of note include a 36 point outing against Brookland, 35 points against CRA and 28 points in a victory over rival Piggott.
Jason Manchester also was a four year starter for the CCC baseball team, part of the group which captured the only varsity state championship in the school's history in 1992. At center field, Manchester was named All-District in 1992 and 1993. He also received All-Region honors in 1992.
An integral part of the 1992 state championship team, Manchester had a batting average of .462. He drove in 37 RBIs and homered twice during the season.
Manchester accepted a scholarship to Williams Baptist College in 1993. He was a four year starter for the WBC basketball team, averaging 15 points per game during his four years. As a junior for WBC, Manchester averaged 14.7 points per game. He added 82 assists while shooting 46 percent from three-point range. He led WBC with 15.8 points per night as a senior. He notched 22 steals and made 88 percent of his free throw attempts.
"He was so competitive that he willed himself to be a great player," Mark Manchester said of his brother. "He was always outside practicing. He was going to work and work and work to win. That's who he is and it's served him pretty well."
Jason Manchester thanked his friends and teammates, noting "those guys were always there, pushing me." He also thanked his parents, pointing out "whether it was St. Louis, Mo. or Birmingham, Ala., my parents were always there."
Randy Rogers introduced coach and administrator Kelly Scobey.
Scobey, a 1964 Greene County Tech graduate, joined the Rector faculty in 1968, serving as an assistant basketball coach under Jess Bucy. The following year, Scobey took over the junior high boys' basketball program, beginning what would become a very successful era.
Rector won the Junior Clay County Tournament in 1970, 1971, 1973 and 1974 under Scobey. The 1971 team won the District 2A championship, while the 1970 squad finished second in District 2A. The 1970 team reached the state semifinals and returned to the quarterfinals one year later.
In 1976, after serving as assistant head coach to Sam Case the previous year, Scobey took over the senior high program.
In his first year as head coach, the 1977 Blackcats became one of the most successful Rector teams of all time. The squad shot out to a 27-0 record, the longest winning streak in the program's history, and ultimately reached the state semifinals. Rector spent much of the season as the number one ranked team in Arkansas. The 'Cats finished the 1976-1977 season with an impressive overall record of 29-3.
Scobey was recognized as the 2AA-North District Coach of the Year in 1978.
The 1980 Blackcats finished second in the district. Scobey was selected to the Arkansas High School All-Star Game coaching staff.
Scobey also served as head baseball coach from 1968 to 1980. The Blackcats finished as district champions in 1975 and 1976. The 1975 team reached the semifinals of the state tournament with an overall record of 16-2. The 1976 squad beat a tough Pine Bluff squad 11-1 in the state tourney, again reaching the semifinals, this time with a record of 15-4, which included a 14-game winning streak.
As assistant baseball coach in 1992, he was part of a team which won the only RHS/CCC varsity state championship.
Scobey served as elementary principal from 1980 through 1993. He became superintendent in 1993, serving in that capacity until 2003.
Scobey thanked the many players, parents and teachers he worked with through the years in addition to his wife, Reba.
"Anyone inducted into the Hall of Fame is there because of many others," Scobey said. "Those people made this possible, and I thank them for that. None of this would be possible without them."
Mark Manchester spoke about the tireless work ethic of a young Matt Mills, who was next to take the podium.
"No matter what time it was, when you went by (Mills' house) there was a little blonde kid out there with a basketball," Mark Manchester said. "It didn't matter if it was raining, snowing or so dark you couldn't see without a flashlight, he was out there."
A 2001 RHS grad, Mills was lauded by many as one of the best athletes to ever come from the Rector area.
As a sophomore in 1999, Mills set the CCC single game scoring record with 44 points in a meeting with rival Marmaduke. For the next two years, Mills would continue to have great moments on the court, with one of his biggest coming as a last-second shot from well behind midcourt in the 2001 Clay County Tournament to defeat rival Piggott in a hard-fought contest.
Among his many achievements in basketball are: All-Conference, 1999, 2000 and 2001; Conference MVP, 2001; All-District, 1999, 2000 and 2001; District MVP, 2001; All-NEA, 2000 and 2001; Best Under the Sun, 1999 and 2000; All-State, 1999, 2000 and 2001 and All-Democrat-Gazette Third Team in 2001.
Mills scored 1,782 points at RHS, in addition to leading the team in assists in all three seasons. He holds the Arkansas high school record with 56 consecutive free throws made.
In baseball, Mills was four-year starter. He was catcher on the 2001 state tournament runner-up team. He was named All-District in 1999 and 2001.
After Rector, Mills was a standout basketball player for Williams Baptist College. During his four years at WBC, Mills made 390 free throws for a career average of 86 percent. In his senior year, he set an NAIA individual three-point field goal percentage record by sinking 51.9 percent of his treys. Mills averaged 12 points per game at WBC and was All-Conference Honorable Mention in 2002, 2003 and 2004. He was an Academic All-Conference selection in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005.
Mills thanked his teammates, coaches and especially his parents.
"I remember my parents driving six hours to watch me play in college," Mills said. "They were always there no matter what. They always supported me."
Mark Manchester introduced longtime coach and volunteer Bobby Tracer, the final inductee of the afternoon.
Tracer is beloved by many for his efforts as a coach of youth baseball. In his first season, his squad lost every game. Tracer told his players, "this will never happen again." Working together, coach and players made sure it didn't. With help from Perry Mills, Tracer's youth teams turned things around and either won their league outright or tied for the next seven years.
He also coached peewee basketball in the Lion's Club youth league for a total of 18 years. During that time, he would also partner with other volunteer coaches Terry Pratt and Dennis Adams, working both in-town and on the peewee traveling team. In 1987-1989, Tracer led his teams to championship games in tournaments at Greene County Tech, Oak Grove and other regional locations. In 1989, Tracer's peewee team played 40 games, coming away victorious in the majority of their outings.
His influence remains with his former players, now adults. He coached a generation of players, with many having children who participate in area sports today.
"I love this town and I love the kids," an emotional Tracer said during his induction. "I can't tell you what those kids meant to me. I just loved it. I thank you for everything."
The event also recognized recent graduates, as seven members of the RHS Class of 2013 received scholarships from the organization. Mitchell Weber and Kaitlyn Essman were present in recognition of receiving the Allan K. Pruett Endowed Scholarship and the $500 Robertson Family Endowed Scholarship, respectively. Daniel White and Kelly Fowler were announced as recipients of the $1,000 RHS Sports Hall of Fame Scholarship Additional scholarships in the amount of $200 for books also were previously presented to Weber, Essman, Tarryn Tracy, White, Dillon Shelton and Fowler.
The program concluded with many old friends and family members uniting to share memories and laughter.