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Morris Harvey memories and a farewell to 'Tallboy'

By Frank Giardina

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- BASKETBALL THOUGHTS before heading to Arizona and baseball spring training:

This week's final WVIAC basketball tournament brought back memories of many outstanding players from the Morris Harvey glory days of the tournament. Former Golden Eagles coach Rick Meckfessel, one of the best men to ever coach in our city, had this to say about several of his former players:

  • HENRY DICKERSON: "Henry is the only player to be named All-WVIAC and all-tournament in each of his four seasons. He came to us from Beckley and had incredibly soft hands. He was effective with tip-ins around the basket. He was an inside 6-4 player for us, but he worked on his outside game and played in the NBA with the Hawks and the Pistons.''
  • JOHN JIVIDEN: "John was overlooked as a great player because our teams weren't very good until his senior season. He was an incredible left-handed shooter and he made the basket at the buzzer to beat Glenville in the semifinals. He was a great athlete and also played four years of baseball.''
  • JOE LUCAS: "Joe played during the time of the name change from Morris Harvey to UC. He was a coaching dream for me, and then Glen Korobov. He may be the most underrated player in school history as he was so versatile. If you need a big stop, he got it. If you needed a big basket, he made it.''  
  • BOBBY WESLEY: "Bobby was as good an all round player as there was in the conference from 1969-72. He was only 6-0, but he could play inside with his great quickness and jumping ability. He could get his shot off at any time as he could stop on a dime. As a mid-range shooter, he was deadly. As good a player as he was, he was even a better person. Everybody on campus loved Bobby.''
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  • For many, the WVIAC tournament was not quite the same without seeing former Salem and Concord coaching legend Don Christie.

    Christie coached in the conference from the early 1960s until 1989. During that time, he coached two of the league's biggest stars: Archie Talley at Salem and Will Johnson at Concord. He also had such names as Norm Dinwiddie and Charlie Delmonico at Salem and Tracy Poindexter and Randy Jennings at Concord.

    Christie was unable to come to the tournament due to health issues, but our state has never had a classier college coach than the beloved Christie.

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  • Earlier this week, the former Kanawha Valley Conference lost one of its most underrated basketball players with the death of former Sissonville High center, Clinton Painter.

    The 6-7 Painter was nicknamed "Tallboy" and, he was a man-mountain, rebounding presence for coach Jerry Moore. Painter set a KVC record of 30 rebounds in one game and led the Indians to their most successful seasons as a AAA school. In 1970, Painter and his Sissonville teammates lost to a talented George Washington team in the regionals. That GW team would win a state title the following season.

    Among Painter's teammates were Bill Day, Steve Utt, John Hall, Doug Atkinson and Bill Walker. There was also a trio of talented sophomores in the program in Bobby Dawson, Raymond Jordan and Jerry Vorholt. Painter went on to play at Fairmont State for Joe Retton. Painter took basketball and impacted the lives of many in Sissonville. The community will remember "Tallboy" and celebrate his life today.

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  • This year is the 100th boys state high school basketball tournament in our state. In what will be a basketball lover's dream, our high school history will be celebrated at a dinner in the Civic Center on the eve of this year's tournament - Tuesday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m.

    State legends Jerry West and Mike D'Antoni will be featured on videotape and names such as Warren Baker, Jeff Schneider, Dave Barksdale and Ergie Smith will be among the speakers. Tickets are $35 and are available at the Civic Center ticket office. You can also buy online at www.charlestonciviccenter.com.

    Reach Frank Giardina at flg16@hotmail.com.


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