RHSSHOF Class of 2016 Set for Induction

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Three former standout athletes, and a long-time local newspaperman, are the inductees for the Class of 2016 of the Rector High School Sports Hall of Fame, joining a group of others whose lasting contributions at Rector, Greenway and Clay County Central schools are still felt to this day. This year's class includes Jessica Hill Graham from the RHS class of 2004, Jimmy W. McKeel of the RHS class of 1960, Dana Adams Wilson of the Clay County Central class of 1990 and Wendell H. Crow, of the Clay County Democrat, for his contributions. The ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at RHS.

Jessica Hill-Graham

Lady Cougar multi-sport standout Jessica Hill-Graham will join the RHSSHOF as a member of the class of 2016. Known as a standout athlete and scholar, she was also selected as Miss Rector of 2003.

Graham was an impact player on both the hardwood and diamond, lettering in basketball and softball in 2002, 2003 and 2004. She was also selected to the All-NEA team in 2003.

Jessica was also selected as All-Conference in basketball in 2002, 2003 and 2004 and was an All-Conference softball selection in both 2003 and 2004. Her senior season as a Lady Cougar softball player she was also named as an All-State selection, and was selected to play in the Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star Game.

On the basketball court she averaged 17.6 points per game, and recorded an average of 5.5 assists per game. She's remembered as an outstanding shooter, often double-teamed by opponents using the "box-and-one" defensive strategy. Still, she would manage to get open -- and score.

During her senior year she had a number of strong outings, and was held to single digits in scoring only three times. In addition to her outstanding high school career, she was also selected All-Conference in basketball all three years of her junior high career.

Graham also distinguished herself in the classroom, and the community. In addition to being selected Miss Rector 2003, at the annual Labor Day Picnic, she was also the RHS valedictorian of 2004, with a 4.0 grade point average. Jessica was also selected as a Wendy's High School Heisman Award winner for achievements in both athletics and academics in 2004.

Jimmy W. McKeel

Blackcat two-sport star Jimmy W. McKeel has been selected for induction to the RHSSHOF as a member of the class of 2016. McKeel was the first RHS basketball player to ever be named as an All-State selection for both junior and senior high, and helped lead the squad to the state championship game.

McKeel showed signs of being an outstanding athlete early in his life. In the ninth grade he was the leading scorer on a good junior high team, which lost to Jonesboro in the district championship game by nine points. Rector then advanced to the junior high state tournament as the district runner-up, and Jimmy was selected to the All-State team. At the conclusion of the state tournament, he moved up to Rector's senior high team and scored 20 points in the first game of the district tournament. And, thus a storied senior high career began.

During his senior high career Jimmy lettered in basketball three straight years, earning the honor in 1958, 1959 and 1960. He was also a starter all three years of his senior high career, and in the spring also lettered in baseball all three of those years.

As mentioned, Jimmy was the first Rector athlete to be named All-State in basketball in senior high and junior high, earning the distinction in both 1957 and 1959.

During Coach Bucy's era at Rector, Jimmy ranked third in career scoring with 1,222 points and was fourth in career points per game averaging 13 points per contest.

As a sophomore, he was a starter on the Rector team which reached the quarterfinals of the state tournament before losing to Sheridan, the eventual tournament winners. In the two games in which he appeared, Jimmy scored 17 points against Green Forest and had 13 in the contest with Sheridan.

During his sophomore year, Jimmy was the second leading scorer on the team 402 points and a 13 point per game average. In the district and state tournament games he converted on 31 out of 33 free-throws--an impressive 94 percent average.

Jimmy's junior season, in a controversial ending, Rector lost the state championship game by one point in overtime. For his performance, Jimmy was named to the All-State team. In the four state tournament games of 1959, including the overtime loss in the championship game, he tallied 15, 11, 23 and 6 points, for a total of 55. His heroics included hitting two baskets in the last quarter of the one-point-win in the quarterfinals against White Hall, and he hit four free throws in the last 1:09 of the semi-final three-point-win over Hoxie.

During his junior year, Jimmy was selected as "most athletic" of RHS.

Legendary coach Jess Bucy said the following of McKeel, "Jimmy was a very good two-sport athlete. He was the best hitter on our high school baseball team."

Dana Adams-Wilson

Lady Cougar basketball standout Dana Adams-Wilson has been selected for induction into the Rector High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2016. During her years on the hardwood for Clay County Central she was usually the best player on the floor. At the conclusion of her career the Clay County Democrat reported, "CCC fans will remember her as an exciting player who could 'do it all' on the court."

Dana lettered in basketball for the Lady Cougars in 1988, 1989 and 1990. Over the course of her high school career she scored 1,706 points, averaging 19.6 points per game. As a sophomore she scored 396 points, and as a junior she scored 599 points, averaging 20.6 points per game. During her senior campaign she scored 713 points and averaged 23.8 points per game. She also shot a blistering 46-percent from beyond the arc, making 70 out of 153 three-point shots.

Adams-Wilson was known for her accuracy, as she shot just under 50-percent from the floor as a junior, and converted on 141 of 183 free throw attempts, for an outstanding 77-percent average from the charity stripe.

Dana was also known as a prolific rebounder. As a junior she averaged 10 rebounds per game, and as a senior she pulled-down 10.6 boards per game. Over the course of her senior high career she's credited with 814 rebounds, for an average of 9.4 per ballgame.

During her high school years she was chosen All-NEA Tournament and All-District as a sophomore and was named All-NEA Tournament, All-District, Best Under the Sun and to the Kennett Stateman Dream Team as a junior.

As a senior she was chosen once again to the All-NEA Tournament Team, was an All-District selection and was named the District MVP. She was also an All-Region and All-State selection, and named to the Best Under the Sun.

During her senior campaign she had a number of standout games, including 39 points against EPC, 35 against Marmaduke in the district tourney, 30 against Rosebud in the regional, 29 against Manila, Bay and Corning and 27 against Maynard. In fact, during the district tournament her senior season she averaged 27 points per game in the four contests.

When she wrapped-up her high school career she was CCCs leading scorer, prompting Coach Mike Truxler to note, "Dana is the only senior on the team. We have everyone else back, but she will be impossible to replace." Earlier in the season he noted of his star, "This may be the best all-around player I have ever coached."

She also made an impact at the next level, averaging 52.4 percent from three-point range during 17 games of her freshman season at Arkansas College.

Wendell H. Crow

Long-time Rector area newspaperman Wendell H. Crow will be inducted into the Rector High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2016. Crow was editor and co-publisher of the Clay County Democrat weekly newspaper, serving Rector and its surrounding communities, from the time he and his wife, Elizabeth F. "Betty" Crow purchased the paper in 1954 until his retirement, and the sale of the newspaper, in 1977.

Throughout his career Crow believed publishing a weekly newspaper was a community service, and as part of this conviction he had a strong commitment to supporting the Rector Public Schools. He believed the schools and their activities were vital components of a healthy community. As such, he recognized that one of the most visible expressions of public support for the schools is their athletic program. By the time the Crows moved to Rector, the weak fiscal condition of the school system led to the abandonment of football. With this fact in mind, Mr. Crow readily understood the value that strong newspaper coverage of the sport of basketball would have as a way to build and maintain strong community morale in Rector .

Throughout his tenure as editor and publisher, Crow made sure all school sports events-at home and away-were provided coverage in the newspaper. In fact, he expanded the "new hole" in the paper in order to accommodate photo coverage of important games, frequently featuring large action shots on the front page. It was not uncommon for him to delay printing the final run of the paper in order to squeeze in late-breaking news of the outcome of basketball tournament games.

The strong rivalries among the teams in Rector's district occasionally led to fiercely battled contests, sometimes resulting in unruly crowd behavior. Crow never hesitated to urge his readers to treat the visitors with respect, and to behave themselves when they followed the teams on the road. In one such men's basketball game on the road, an opposing team player physically assaulted a Rector player without the referee calling an intentional foul, resulting in a brawl and a near-riot. This drew Mr. Crow's strong editorial admonishment to both sides to practice good sportsmanship, and a commendation of the Rector team and fans for their restraint.

All four of the Crow children played a role in support of the Rector athletic program. Sons Charlie and Wendell Crow each traveled with the teams for away games in order to assure timely news and photographic coverage of all the high school basketball games. His son, Mark Crow, played on the Rector Blackcat athletic teams, and daughter Cathy Crow was a cheerleader.

As the school's athletic program broadened into other sports, the paper's coverage expanded with it. If Rector fielded a team, the Democrat covered it.

After family members graduated, Mr. Crow continued his commitment to sports coverage by making sure that the Clay County Democrat always had a high school boy or girl working on the staff who could report games and take pictures. It is estimated at least 20 young men and women worked their way through high school and/or college with part-time jobs at the Clay County Democrat in roles which almost always included sports coverage. The experience as sports reporters was a chance to get on-the-job experience which was invaluable to their future careers. Testament to his efforts, one Democrat alumnus is now a professional sports reporter in an adjacent state.

The induction ceremony will be held beginning at 1 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 3, at the RHS gymnasium. The ceremony will take place during a dessert reception, immediately following the annual RHSSHOF luncheon. Details about the luncheon can be obtained by contacting Owen B. Moseley at (870) 935-4039.

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