Bucy Looks Back on RHS State Tourney Teams
The Rector Blackcats basketball team of 1966 has been selected to be inducted into the Rector High School Sports Hall Of Fame at a dessert reception on Sept. 5, along with three outstanding players; Joe Perry Pruett, Paul Wiley Frets and the late L.B. "Bucket" Moseley.
Details of that team's successful season will be discussed in this paper, as well as the
reception. RHSSHOF board members Lavaughn Robertson and Owen Moseley, captain of the 1958 team, have spent many hours gathering information about individuals, as well as teams, inducted into the Hall Of Fame. Lavaughn, with the assistance of some others, has compiled much of the history of Rector athletes into a number of scrapbooks which are showcased in the Rector Public Library. He has asked me to mention highlights of our teams of the 50's and 60's who earned a spot in one of the state basketball tournaments during the 15-year period while I was coach at Rector. People who are interested in the history of Rector athletics should take advantage of the opportunity to read the scrapbooks about people and events that have been a part of Rector's athletic history. It is very interesting reading. This article is limited to my 15-year period, but the scrapbooks contain information as far back as the 1920's.
I have been asked many times for my opinion about which team was our "best" or who was our "best player or shooter" and I always answer by saying "I don't like to compare my teams or players with each other." I was fortunate to have the opportunity to coach some very talented players and I was also fortunate to coach some others who did not have the same skill level, who worked just as hard as those who received a lot of public recognition. They were all important to our success, as well as the managers, cheerleaders, band members and fans.
However, as a result of their accomplishments some teams and players received public recognition in the form of trophies or honors. Therefore I will mention only the teams that played in a state tournament and some of the players who received significant honors. To emphasize the difficulty of reaching these high levels of achievement, I need to mention the fact that my first teams at Rector played in the state's largest classification A, which included Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Ft. Smith, etc. and the only way we could qualify for the state tournament was to finish first or second in our district. The only way that a player could make All-State was to play in the State Tournament. Our district included Jonesboro, West Memphis, Leachville, Greene County Tech, Paragould, Manila, Bay, Trumann, Piggott, Corning and three other schools. In 1958, a class was added, making Rector AA, and Marmaduke won the Class B state tournament . We played in the Class A tournament that year and were defeated in the quarterfinals by Sheridan, who won the tournament. Until 1965, there were three classes, but in 1965 a fourth class was added.
The following is a short summary of state tournament appearances by Rector teams; more details are in the scrapbooks. Our junior teams won two state championships and another was a quarterfinalist, so because those were significant achievements I will include them in this report.
In 1957 our junior team lost to state champion Jonesboro in the district finals by 7 points. Then we were beat by Newport in the state tournament. We lost to Fordyce and Jonesboro defeated Little Rock Catholic in the state championship game. Jimmy McKeel made the All State Team.
In 1963 our junior team won the state championship at Mountain Home, and playing a great game we beat our host team in the quarterfinals. Mountain Home had an outstanding team and later won the state championship in the AA class when they were seniors.
In the 1963 semifinals we beat a very good Watson Chapel team which had a 21-1 record. Allan Pruett was named MVP of the tournament and Alan Williams made All-State. Ted Glaub, who started as center every game during the season, had the mumps and did not play.
In 1967 our juniors won the state championship again. Mike Baker was selected as the tournament's MVP and Ronnie Allison made All-State.
The Rector High School senior team won the County Tournament 13 out of 15 years and played in the State Tournament six times.
In 1958 our seniors went to the State Tournament for the first time and defeated Green Forest before losing to Sheridan in the quarterfinals. Sheridan was outstanding and won the state championship. Gary McClure set the tournament single game rebounding record with 32 rebounds. He was named All-State and was the first Rector senior player to receive that honor.
In 1959 we lost the state championship game in overtime to Ouachita in a controversial decision. We won our first game by a comfortable margin, and came from behind late to beat White Hall 64-63, and Hoxie 56-53 in following games. In overtime at the championship game with seconds to go and a one point lead, we missed the front end of a 1-1, which they rebounded and hit a 20' shot with 9 seconds left. We missed a 17' shot before the buzzer, but Jimmy McKeel rebounded and put it in. One referee counted it and called a foul but the other referee thought that time had expired, so they went to the scorer's table where the timekeeper made the decision. The crowd did not know who the champions were until that conference. Lavaughn Robertson was the leading scorer in the tournament and he, Joe Pruett and Jim McKeel made All-State.
In 1964 Rector was rated the third best team in the state in the UPI final A-B poll, and first in Class A. We defeated Perryville in the first round but lost our center in a practice session the next day. We beat Mountain Home but without him we lost to Waldo in the semifinals. The state champions lost to Rector 72-47 in the NEA Tournament. Bill Cossey was named All-State.
In 1965 Rector was favored to win what a state paper called "the best field ever assembled in the Class A tournament." After wins over Lavaca, Marianna, and an outstanding Green Forest team, we lost to a very good Bay team in the championship game. We had lost to them by one point in the NEA tournament and had beaten them twice during the season, the last time by 23 points; however, other than two loses to us, they lost only one other game that year. The loss broke a 16-game winning streak for us and following the game, a Little Rock writer wrote, "Rector had been reported to be one of the best teams ever seen in Northeast Arkansas." Bill Cossey and Allan Pruett were named All-State, and they along with Bob McKeel and Alan Williams, had outstanding college careers . Our record was 33-5 with only 1 loss by more than 2 points.
In 1966 the outstanding Rector team which won the State Championship in junior high, lost in the state semifinals breaking an 18-game winning streak. The Blackcats won 30 games despite playing the AA state champions and runnerup as part of what a Jonesboro Sun sportswriter guessed was "probably the best Class A schedule in the state." Rector defeated Bay, the defending state champions, in the state quarterfinals even though Bay returned their two All-State guards plus another starter from the previous year. Jerry McConnell wrote in the Arkansas Gazette, "Rector's Black Cats put together a near perfect first half and drubbed an old tormenter, Bay's Yellow Jackets, 68 to 51. This game was never a contest." In the semifinal loss, Fort Smith St. Anne's led by only 3 points with less than 19 seconds to play, and they won by 5 points. One of our starters had mono and did not play in the tournament.
In the summer of 1965, Alan Williams' family, and some other Rector farm families, moved to Louisiana, and many times I have wondered how good we would have been if they had waited a year and Alan could have played his senior year at Rector in 1966. We would have had a great team.
In 1966 Allan Pruett was a top 10 All-American player, Dennis Cate made All-State, and I thought Ted Glaub, our 6'2", 215 lb. center, could have as he averaged 15.7 points per game in the tournament, including 26 points in the first game with a lot of rebounds. Our other starters were also good players.
Alan Williams was a starter for us; both as a sophomore and as a junior. In Louisiana his senior year, he was listed as 6'5" and 215 lbs. He averaged 26 points per game as a wing player with 16 rebounds. A writer stated that he was a unanimous choice on the Top 5 All-State team. The clippings which I have seen regarding Alan's college career were very impressive. Following his senior year, a writer stated that he was sought by all of the Louisiana colleges and some in the Southeast and the Southwest Conference. In a win against Tulane, in his first start as a sophomore, he scored 19 points, including 7 of 12 from the field, all from long range and he was a starter for the rest of his career. As a junior, against Mississippi State (Southeast Conference) he scored 28 points and the writer added "Williams was little short of sensational as he poured in 13 of 17 field goal attempts, practically all of them from the outside." Alan has been selected for the Louisiana College Athletic Hall Of Fame.
Even though some unfortunate circumstances of injuries, health problems, and loss of players for state tournament play occurred, this group of seniors experienced remarkable success during their last four years of school. After winning the state tournament as freshmen, they averaged 30 wins per season for the next three years with two state semifinals and a state runnerup.
In 1967, with no returning starters and no player over 6', Rector lost several games by large margins at the beginning of the season, however, the team improved steadily, and by winning the semifinal game of the District Tournament by a large margin, qualified for the State Tournament for the fourth consecutive year.
Some significant player honors at Rector High School:
All Mid-South, All-American -- Allan Pruett.
Honorable Mention All-American -- Bill Cossey.
All-State -- Gary McClure, Lavaughn Robertson, Joe Pruett,
Jim McKeel, Bill Cossey (2), Allan Pruett (2), Dennis Cate.
Arkansas All-Star Game -- G. McClure, L. Robertson, Dale Girtman, B. Cossey, A. Pruett .
RHS player honors in college :
Honorable Mention All-American -- Robertson, Cossey.
All-Conference -- Don Sinko, Robertson (3), Cossey (2), Bob McKeel, A. Pruett (2) MVP.
Career record scoring ave. at Arkansas College -- L.Robertson 19.8 ppg. ,career free throw percentage record (86.1 %), most pts. in one game (50).
Arkansas Intercollegiate Conf. single season free throw percentage record by Bob
McKeel, at Harding College 92.9.
Athletic Hall Of Fame (their college) -- Robertson, Cossey, McKeel and Alan Williams, Louisiana College .
Some of other teams and players were very good, but because they did not play in the State Tournament, they did not win or receive state honors and are not included in this report.