At the start of a new year, allow me to take a look back to remember some of the names in sports that our state lost in the last 12-14 months.
The major-college recruiters considered Barrett too thin to recruit at the Division I level, but they were wrong. Out of Richwood High School, he went on to play for the Papa Bear, Neal Baisi, at West Virginia Tech in the early 1960s, and fans flocked to Montgomery to see Barrett play.
He became a dominant player in the West Virginia Conference immediately. Barrett led Tech to the WVC tournament title in 1963 and was named MVP as a freshman. He then led the Golden Bears to regular-season titles in 1964 and 1965 and earned all-tournament honors both years.
Barrett also played for the U.S. Olympic team that won the gold medal in the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City. He played professionally in the ABA for the Virginia Squires.
Barrett's passing leaves a void in our state's basketball history.
In early December, we lost one of the more underrated coaches from the coalfields with the passing of Ritchie, who coached at Williamson High School. Ritchie led the Wolfpack for 16 years and compiled a record of 268-94. He won a Class AA state title in 1964 in a year that was dominated by coalfield teams. Logan won the AAA championship and Kermit took the Class A title.
In 1965, Ritchie's Wolfpack moved up to AAA and lost a two-point state title game to Woodrow Wilson. That was also a coalfield-dominated state tournament as Joe Pendry and Oceana won the AA state title and the Hamilton brothers (Dave and Alan) led Gary District to the Class A title.
Ritchie's Williamson teams might have competed for more AAA state titles in the late 1960s, but they kept running into Lou Romano's great Charleston High teams of that era in the regionals.