Nathan Blessing(rghs 96) interviewed Coach Bob Kegley on March 15th,1993.
Nathan: What did coaching the team mean to you?
Mr. Kegley: Ulcers! The team came with the job. I needed the job and the job was open. Then I learned that coaching basketball came along with it. It was just a good thing that they had a whole bunch of good players waiting for me when I got there. So I was learning at the same time they were. I had a lot of fun. But what it meant to me, I guess it was the honor of coaching them.
Nathan: If you had to do it over would you have done anything different?
Mr. Kegley: Well everything worked, so I guess I wouldn't have done anything different.
Nathan: Fair enough.
Mr. Kegley: I had the Washington and Lee team scrimmage the day before, and they were very good against the full court and half court press, and I knew if we played that at the beginning of the game they would have eaten us up. Our only chance was to take them by surprise and throw them off their stride so they would get fouled up, and hopefully wouldn't be able to recover. It worked. We almost waited till too late. They had a pretty good lead on us and back before the three point shot even ten points was a big lead. We waited as long as I could before we went into the press. Knowing that if they had time to think it out, they could have run all over it. It worked out, they were shaken, we won, but I think it was more of them losing. The press really shook them, because they were looking for another zone, and it started out looking like a zone, then it changed without us even calling a time out. You have got to remember that we were a small country school playing in the biggest auditorium in the state. I remember Harold, all that mattered to him was he wanted to see it he could touch the rim. He tried to see if he could throw a basketball up and touch the ceiling with it, this was the biggest place we had played in. We were a cracker box playing team, we played in barns and places like that.
Henry: We played in some places that weren't as good as barns.
Mr. Kegley: Some were worse, a couple had high water marks on walls inside. We were a little bit in awe of the surroundings. I don't know about the other teams I don't know it they had played in anything large before, but this was in a time when a gym this big was unheard of.
Nathan: During the tournaments did you ever think you were going to lose?
Mr Kegley: There was a thought at one time, we were kind of on the ropes of it, when we were playing Blue Ridge. They had a great big player that had been hurting us, so I got some wisdom from somewhere to try to get him to foul out. So we basically used Harold on him because he was kind of clumsy looking. He would get right up next to him and shoot, knowing the shot was going to get blocked, but that didn't matter, we were trying to get fouls on him. We ended up getting four fouls on him, that calmed him down on defense, but he still did well on offense. Then right near the end of the game, I can't remember if we were up by two, or it they were up by two, and he got caught between two of our players and there was a pile-up on the floor that sprained his ankle and from there out the game was ours. His ankle turned out not to be sprained after all, it seemed as though it looked like we were going to win and he took the easy way out. His name was David Smith, his nickname was the King Fish, but I believe that he took the easy way out.
Nathan: Dad has told me a story about Mr. Puckett hitting nine out of ten shots from twenty feet in that game.
Mr. Kegley: Mr Puckett played a pretty good game then, Vincent Morehead played a real good defensive game. We had kind of a physical team, it wasn't dirty, we were just a bunch of country boys that went out there and banged around.
Nathan: You all used to call Joe Shrader "Dirty Joe".
Mr. Kegley: Joe played a real good game in one of the tournament games, he was kind of an unsung hero. Herold had four fouls on him, this was one of the times your dad wasn't in foul trouble, it seemed like he would start out with four fouls sometimes.
Henry: But you know the only game I fouled out of my Senior year was when we beat Matoaka at the Gap. We beat them 97 to 58.
Mr. Kegley: Harold had four, and he had been making all the shots. So I said to myself, "Oh no what am I going to do without Harold?" So I put Benny DeAtly in for a little while. Then I put him back in and he made a few more points for us. You were scared to do much subbing back then so you would leave the starters in there till their tongues were hanging out. Because the five you started were better tired than your other players were fresh.
Nathan: What made you better than the other teams you played?
Mr. Kegley: Oh here's my chance to say something educational and meaningful. Crooked referees of course. Up in the tournament it is hard to say that we were the best team there, because up at tournament time everybody is pretty evenly matched. If you weren't good you weren't going to be there. We may have beaten a team one night that if we had played them on a different night a shot might not have gone in, or a ball may have bounced different, and we might have lost. The other teams had habits of it we went on a run they would call a time out and change their offense, well during that time we changed our defense, so they ended up wasting a time out. We had our ups and downs, we lost about six games that year. It all depended on now the players from both teams felt, whether the shots were falling, and how mean the crowd was.
Henry: Like at Montcalm where the crowd would move from one end of the gym to the other depending on which ever goal we were shooting on. I bet the last time we played there we shot one-hundred and ten times.
Mr. Kegley: I have trouble saying that we were better, but we did have some talented players. I like to think that coaching had something to do with it, but it didn't, it was the players. Everybody wanted to win, that was a good bunch of kids to coach, they really loved the game.
Henry: I believe that if that team you had with Terry Akers had the attitude that we had, they would have gone all the way. They were always fighting and feuding all the time. I've told Nathan that we used to do everything together, we would drink together, chase women together, play basketball together.
Mr. Kegley: Now I find all this out about the players after it is all over.
Nathan: You thought you had twelve upstanding individuals.
Mr. Kegley: Well I think I did. I never had any problems out of them.
Nathan: Did you do anything in the preseason to prepare them for the upcoming season?
Mr. Kegley: We deer hunted. We didn't have any preseason training camp or anything, everybody had a goal on the side of their house. Henry even had on with a paved court. But everybody played basketball. It is a good thing that they did.
Nathan: Did you think they were going to be as good as they turned out to be?
Mr. Kegley: I had hoped that they would have been a little better and that we would not have lost those six games. But in the tournament everybody is good and everybody can win. It depends on who does what when. Can you out think the other coach and pull the wool over his eyes for a few minutes? Is the ref going to make this call or that call?
Nathan: And it never hurt to give an official a twenty dollar bill before the game night.
Mr. Kegley: It was a hundred. No, no we didn't ever do that, I can't even remember who the officials were that night.
Henry: I remember that Johnson guy that used to call us got cut with a knife in the New Castle, Blue Ridge game. That was kind of scary.
Mr. Kegley: I remember that after the game someone from the crowd came out of he stands and stabbed him in the leg.
Henry: That kind of frightened me because you didn't see anything like that back then.
Mr. Kegley: No not really, they might have taken him out back and beaten him up or something.
Nathan: What did you think of coaching in Castle Coliseum?
Mr. Kegley: It was a nice place to play, I guess we were kind of awed by the size of it seeing that we had never played in a place that large before. Of course we got to go down the day before and prepare. Then of course we had our crowd. Half the people from the county were down there supporting us so we had a good cheering section.
Nathan: What is you favorite story from that season?
Mr. Kegley: I had a bunch of small stories, but I don't know if I nave one that I can say is my favorite. You would have a player to swallow a half pack of chewing tobacco and get sick right before you had to play in the state tournament game.
Nathan: Did that really happen?
Henry: I don't know, but I do know one thing that did happened. Do you remember when were staying down in Roanoke, and no one left the shower curtain in and all the people were having a cocktail party down below us.
Mr. Kegley: All of those people down there getting the benefit of Harold's shower.
Henry: The water was dripping down into there wine glasses.
Mr. Kegley: They didn't know the curtain went on the inside of the tub. All the water ran out of the tub on the floor, through the ceiling, and into their cocktail glasses. Little things like that come to mind. Things like trying to keep the cheerleaders and ball players separated long enough for the game.
Henry: Or like when we got to the hotel room, all of us where smoking...
Mr. Kegley: No one on the team smoked.
Henry: It was Rick Lane, and Vincent and Joe Shrader, Melvin Wolfe, and myself staying in one room. As soon as we got in there we all fired up. Right at that moment Mr. Kegley walked in, the place looked like Veto's alley on Saturday night, and all the smoke went pouring out of the room. He looked straight at Melvin and said it you don't quit that smoking it's going to kill you. Do you remember saying that Mr Kegley?
Mr. Kegley: I thought everybody pretty well got the point.
Henry: We were in shape though.
Mr. Kegley: Cigarettes didn't bother the team, but they may have been better if they hadn't smoked.
Henry: I think if I had to do it over again, I wouldn't have smoked.
Mr. Kegley: You didn't get to sit down and rest in those ball games like you do today. You had to play the whole game, you were in there from the time the game started till you got hurt, or till you fouled out. I think everybody was probably in better physical condition then, than what they are now.
Henry: As far as strength, I think you're right, I don't think I have ever seen a player at the Gap in better shape than what Vincent was.
Mr. Kegley: The players were meaner then too. Harold would be getting ready for a rebound, and he would have somebody pushed under the goal and when the ball came off the rim you might see some one come sailing out of the crowd. What was so amazing is that sometimes he would get away with it, but a lot of the time he didn't.
Henry: That's why he stayed in foul trouble all of the time.
Nathan: What kind of things did you do in practice.
Mr. Kegley: We would work on anything that needed to be worked on. Not much of anything in particular, we would just play balI.
Henry: One thing that happened during the season, this is kind of an antidote, about five years ago I saw Robert Hall, Remember he played for Bland our senior year, and we were talking about the weather or something, and all of a sudden he said, "Henry I still can't believe you whipped us that bad." I didn't want to tell them that the only reason that we didn't beat them by forty points was that Mr. Kegley told us to ease up on you.
Mr. Kegley: I think your dad's best game was when we played Auburn. They had a real good big boy, his name was Loveday, he was the same size as your dad, but he had about thirty pounds on him. Those two were having a mini battle out there at center court. One would get the ball and the only one that could stop him was the other. Henry all of a sudden found out that he could shoot side ways over his off hand and there was no way that Loveday could get to that ball. Henry pulled us through that game by himself. The shots they took were not very far off, but you had this big moose between you and the basket. And if you turned around to face the basket there was no way in the world you were going to get the shot off.
Henry: One of the reasons we won that game is that we stopped Lowell Reed from driving baseline.
Mr. Kegley: Reed was a real tough player out there.
Henry: He was good.
Mr. Kegley: One of the toughest games we had was getting out of the district.
Nathan: That last game with Auburn?
Mr. Kegley: That was the game that scared me the most.
Nathan: Were they like your Bland then?
Mr. Kegley: No, we always got along well, it was just a tough game, we were nose to nose. They wanted it as bad as we did.
Henry: I remember one time we just about had them beat down at Auburn and Gary Johnson hurt his ankle. He was the only one that could get the ball down the court, of course the court was only about a foot wide.
Nathan: Where was the worst place you played?
Henry: Council. They had the backboards nailed to the wall.
Mr. Kegley: Council and Whitewood both had the back door opening up to a cliff outside. The gyms on the Virginia side were kind of small.
Henry: We played Fries that year and they even had a small gym. Franky Alice was the coach that year. He was a better player than he was a coach, because we killed them that year.
Mr. Kegley: He got even with me every year after that, they always had a good out side shooter. They must have had those kids out there in the summer shooting from about forty feet. It was a good thing that they didn't have the three-point line back then.
Henry: Harold would have scored a thousand points if they had one when we played.
Mr. Kegley: He would have really raked up the points, he would stop out there and shoot, he didn't care if there was somebody wide open under the goal, he was going to shoot. It was a good thing it went in a lot, if it didn't Henry was there to get the rebound and put it back. Henry decided a long time ago that he wasn't going to get the pass from him so he better get the rebound if he wanted his points.
Henry: Giving him the ball was just like throwing it to Kevin McHale. He just threw it into a black hole.
Nathan: Did your season get off to a good start?
Mr. Kegley: Fine I guess. How did our season start out?
Henry: Auburn beat us the first game. After that we won six or seven in a row.
Mr. Kegley: I left my sheet things on the wall at the school.
Nathan: What pulled the season together?
Henry: Parental support was one thing and they had played together years before and probably at the expense of other players some of who were seniors.
Nathan: What do you think winning the state championship did for the community?
Mr. Kegley: A lot people found out where we were for the first time. Ceres had gone there a few years before. Bland had gone three years in a row. Their enrollment was larger than ours was at that time, I think we had about 180 back then.
Henry: The school was smaller than what it is now.
Mr. Kegley: Yea I think we were about at 180, but it didn't make any difference because all the schools we played were larger than us.
Nathan: What sort of officials did you have that year?
Mr. Kegley: I said during the tournament and through the regular season we had a pretty good group of officials. I have, which is another story, seen a group of officials that were not so fair. He said if you stick with me I'll take you all the way to the state. Those poor boys would get their hands on the ball and he would call walking or something else, and they lost the ball every time. I would just sit there, he was the official the other team was paying him. He'd throw the game like he said.
Henry: The only game I believe we got cheated out of when I was playing there is when we played at New Castle. We were up by 22 points at half time and lost.
Mr. Kegley: We did kind of fall apart in that game.
Henry: No, one of them would run up behind Charlie and grab his arms while the other one stole the ball from him when he was trying to come up the court.
Mr. Kegley: It was pretty obvious that you should not get a lead in the facility, because you were going to lose it. Still to blow a twenty-two point lead without a three-point shot. But you couldn't get the ball up the court they would grab you and take it away from you.
Nathan: Do you think you would have been better it you had a three-point shot?
Mr. Kegley: Yea we would have scored more points. But the other team would have too.
Nathan: Do you think dad would have scored as many points?
Mr. Kegley: Your dad was a basket demon. If the ball got close to the rim he would have got it. And there weren't a lot of lay ups made if he was standing in that area either.
Henry: Well, people didn't drive in to the goal much back then.
Mr. Kegley: No it wasn't too healthy to drive into the bottom of the cavern
Nathan: For you, what was the best part about winning?
Mr. Kegley: Getting to go home. I don't really know, I enjoyed it as much as anyone else did. We did our best and come out on top.
Henry: We celebrated for a half an hour before we ever went after the trophy.
Mr. Kegley: It took a little jumping around, I felt like an idiot jumping around out there on the floor. Susan looked over at Henry's dad trying to get out of the stands, and one of the guards was running him back up and wouldn't let anyone else on the floor.
Henry: We had a good time didn't we?
Would you like to return to the top of the page?