Nathan Blessing (rghs 1996) interviewed Rick Lane on April 11th 1993
Nathan: What did it mean to you to be on the 65 team?
Rick: As of then I don't believe it had as much meaning as it does now. We were so young first of all. We were all a bunch of Bland County, or Rocky Gap High or Bastian High and we played ball with all of these guys Woody and Henry and all the guys on the team. We grew up playing ball together. So it wasn't unusual when we played, from what I can recall. Everything was so different at the end of the year than at the beginning, because everything fell into place as a team. I think it was more of the fact that we were underdogs in every game we played. We played against some big boys. It was exciting because we got to go away from home overnight! That was more exciting than it was playing. Actually some times I don't know even if we thought we were going to win. We went out and played and we played in Gymnasiums that were in Districts that were bigger than ours. Regionals that were much bigger than ours, and when we got to the state, it was like oh my god! It was a scary thought walking out there just to warm up. It was like you felt so small. so the impact that it had on us is now more important. Because to me at the time I guess I really didn't appreciate what we had done. Also being that Bland had also won it the three years before us was one thing that inspired us. And getting back to your original question at the time, it didn't have an impact, but today, I think it is something that very few people will ever know. I always think about it when I play and when I talk. Even though I didn't have as big a part as the seniors did, it was a thrill.
Nathan: What do you think it did for the community around you?
Rick: At the time I fell the community felt it more than the players did, because we had everybody in the community there. Even with everybody in the community there, it didn't fill the coliseum up. I don't know if they really knew at that time of what teams came out of this county. Counting Bland and Rocky Gap we have not ever duplicated that for 4 years in a row the county held the State Championship. That is something for a small county, and a small school, really a small team. Henry at 6 foot 5, and if we stretched Vincent's elbows out, we had someone about 6 foot, but we had a mix of a team with no real superstars.
Henry: Well I thought I was?
Rick: Well we had a lot of people who thought they were. But it was exciting even now to think back on it. The community though. I still even today when I come back people remember me as a basketball player and that's how the community puts their athletes I think and that's nice. If you want to be remembered for something I guess that is one of the best things. I think we are lucky to have a community that supports us and not to the point of where they are demanding. If something is happening they come out and support it.
Nathan: What were your thoughts on Castle Coliseum?
Rick: Like I said when we walked in there it was . I think it's like when kids look at Santa Clause and say gosh he's so big. I couldn't believe we were there and just to warm up was a thrill and to think we got to play. But you know what I remember first is that it wasn't even a good floor. It was a bad floor because it had dead spots on it. It was put together as a makeshift, because they held other events there. We had always been a close school and when you played everybody was out on the court and there you had to look awhile to find the people. It was that big. They also had these huge backboards which we didn't have in our school. That was amazing "Glass backboards, we never used these before."
Henry: You could shoot through them and see the people behind you.
Rick: Hey Ma. I think that was the feeling when we walked out there. It was a feeling that you'll never forget. When I think back on what happened it was like a movie that you already knew the ending to. It was like a set up thing. If I hadn't been there as a member of the team I don't think we ever thought we were going to lose but I don't think we ever thought we were going to win. We just went out there to play and good things happened. Everything was like it was supposed to be The passes, the shooting, the people that stepped forward. Like I said every game it seemed like there was someone who stepped forward every game and it seemed to me that at the time everyone play above their ability. We played teams that had starting line ups, just in the district, that had a center that was 6 foot 7 or 8, Two forwards were about 6 foot 5, had a guard 6 foot 2 or 3, and another guard at 6 foot. So these teams came in there with undefeated records and big players in cowboy hats. These people came in expecting to win. We came in there with a record that would probably defy any state championship team today. Because we lost 5 or 6 games we didn't have a State Championship type of year, as for as regular season. That's why I say that the end of the year was when we came together and to point at anything and say we were going to win or we weren't going to win. It felt to me like it was just supposed to be, to me it did any way. It was us being in more of an ah of where we were playing than who we were playing against.
Henry: All you were interested in was taking a shower anyway.
Nathan: What's this story?
Henry: Well we were In the Holiday Inn down in Roanoke for the Regional. I don't guess any one on the team had ever taken a shower before.
Rick: Well we took showers don't get me wrong we took showers. The fact is and I'll have to set the story straight. We were staying in the room and before the game at the Holiday Inn, we were taken our showers and after we were all done we got a phone call from the desk. The call said "Turn your water off!" We looked at each other and said we didn't have any water on. They called back again I think and asked us what was going on and we said we didn't have any water on. Then we happened to walk in to the bathroom and there was about an inch of water in the floor. We didn't realize that you had to put the curtain "inside" the tube. So therefore the water drained out onto the floor. What we didn't realize was they were having a black tie dinner downstairs and the water was coming through the floor. Beneath us was this big dinning hall so the water was dripping down through the floor through the chandelier on to this party, our bath water. someone had forgot to put the curtain inside the tube. When I say somebody I'd say we all said "Hey it's supposed to be out." Like I said we were country boys who were not used to that.
Henry: I'll tell you the silliest thing I think we did was when we were playing the finals down at Blacksburg in the State Championship and no one told us how to go to the dressing room. So we climbed across the guard rail and started walking down to the tunnel. Then a cop stopped us and said "Were are you going."and we said "We are going to the dressing room." Then he said, "You can't come across here." Then we told him we didn't know the way so he directed us to go upstairs and back around. We finally got to the locker rooms and we could finally get ready.
Rick: Like I said that's just how we were. We were just that way, "Hey we can just cut across there." That was some of the things that happened during the tournaments. During the year I think we had a lot of controversy on our team. I remember in one picture two of us were missing Woody Bradshaw and I boycotted it because we didn't feel like we were getting enough playing time. But we boycotted the picture of the team and we were getting ready to quit the team. That's about as rebelish as you can get in Rocky Gap. It was a strange year.
Nathan: What do think brought the team together at the end of the season?
Rick: I think our team was made of determination. We had also played together so long, especially with five seniors, you had guys that played together and they were all different. I don't think I have ever seen a team that had so many personalities on it like we had. We were even from different parts of the county. You had two from Bastian, two from Rocky Gap and Vincent was from Hollybrook. Even though that not very far away it just all came together. I think they all kind of matured at the same time. I don't think the team could have played any better. I don't even think they realized how good they were. I mean we won the State Championship and we don't even know.
Henry: How we won it. Well I know how we did it.
Rick: Well you tell me.
Henry: Charlie and I have talked about it over the years. I believe it was the crowd. It was the crowd.
Rick: Do you think so.
Henry: I remember one time in the third quarter when we were coming back on them. We had stopped them before they had got across the 10 second line and you couldn't stand it in castle. We never scored, we never made a defensive play, we just stopped them from getting across half court and the people went crazy. I believe the crowd scared them.
Rick: I think it was a combination too, of different people at different times. I know in the Auburn game, Joe was so hot that he almost shot at half court and didn't even hit rim. Then Harold would have hot nights, and you always scored your points.
Nathan: No matter how many times he had to shoot.
Rick: Right no matter how many times he had to shoot. I mean you know Vincent even made two I think. They never threw the ball to Vincent.
Henry: We know he couldn't shoot so we didn't give him the ball.
Rick: It was strange, I thought Auburn was one of our tougher games. Even though they didn't have the biggest team.
Nathan: Well who do you think your toughest opponents were?
Rick: Auburn. Our district was a tough district. I don't know if it was the teams, but any time you play within the district you had to play hard to win. That is another thing that I think made us better because within our district we had some tough teams.I thought Auburn was the best team in the district. They had an inside game, they had an outside game. I think that year they had two all state players on the team. They had some good teams we played in some, did we play Montcalm that year? When we played Montcalm and places like that you played in gyms that were so tight that when you took the ball out you were in the crowd.
Henry: The thing about it was, they were friendly.
Rick: You could go out there and kiss half the crowd before you came back. I think that's something we never even thought how far we could go, it was a strange year I think.
Nathan: What did Mr Kegley do to prepare you for the season?
Rick: We had some tough practices. He also brought in a man from Bland, Mr. Gilly, for a couple of lessons. That was the most impressive time for me I thought "Wow this guy can coach." I don't know that's something you have to... how did he prepare us? He pretty much let us go out there and have free rein. There wasn't many set plays that we had. You knew when the ball went into Harold Taylor that was it. Harold did shoot well or he shot enough till he did hit. He got his 20 points a game, but sometimes it took him 20 shots to get it. The funny thing about Charlie, Henry has always said he was the leader of the team. He had more moves for a guy that never went anywhere than I had ever seen, there was a lot of motion with little movement. I think that was his purpose, be there to confuse the other team. "What's this guy doing"
Henry: Sometimes he would even confuse himself.
Rick: We had some tough practices. I used to hate Joe Shrader.
Nathan: Tell me about "Dirty Joe"
Rick: Joe was so dirty he would go out and hit his own players. He used to grab jerseys on the other team and pull hair.
Nathan: Pull hair?
Henry: On your legs.
Rick: I think for dirty players I think Joe was the worst. He used to do a lot of pushing. I don't know how he used to play out there and stay in the game because he used push and shove and taunt. You know he was the taunter on our team. If you think back on it Joe out there, he was a dirty player. He even played dirty when he practiced. People don't realize these things.
Henry: He would start a fight in practice.
Rick: He and I almost got into it a few times. He would go out there and push you and do all kinds of things, grab your behind, he loved to do things like that. I don't know how he ever played and never fouled out.
Henry: I don't think he ever did foul out, did he?
Rick: No, but didn't he play dirty?
Henry: Oh yea, I thought he did.
Rick: Harold Taylor did too, but I thought he was a little more kind.
Henry: No he wasn't more kind, he was just brutal.
Rick: But he would never look at you when he fouled you, Joe would taunt.
Henry: Talking about Harold, did you ever see someone who wanted to win any more than he did?
Rick: That's true, I think Joe just went out there to see who he could hurt. Don't get me wrong now, but Joe had a strange shot.
Nathan: I've never had this explained to me before,
Rick: I don't know it was kind of between a jump shot and a set shot, but he couldn't jump.
Henry: He always seemed like he was falling down when he shot it.
Rick: The thing is in the end, the team did play together better that we did all season. We were pretty intense in some of our practices, that's for sure. In the end we had some pretty tough people. Because we were shorter than a lot of the teams we played against. We had also always played together, when we were growing up on Henry's court.
Nathan: He was the rich kid with the paved court.
Rick: Yea he was the rich kid with the Sunday afternoon court.
Henry: We would start after church and play till dark.
Rick: People used to ask me how I learned to shoot. Then I explained that I learned to shoot, the way I did, was because I always had taller people around me. We just played street basketball.
Henry: Another thing that helped us was playing against some of those black teams up in West Virginia.
Rick: You know what, I think back to the Regional and to the States, and I don't remember any teams with black players on them.
Henry: Well there wasn't any, the only teams that had them were the West Virginia teams with them. Oakvale, Matoaka, and Bramwell were the only black teams we ever played against that year.
Rick: We also played against some really big boys. I had never seen bigger guys than the ones we played against in the Regional. I keep thinking about the Regional because I remember seeing that team, and I had never seen a team so big.
Henry: Thirty years ago a 6 foot eight boy in single A ball was a big boy.
Rick: When I saw them I was like "Oh my god are we in the right stadium." I thought they had brought in professionals to play against us. They had cowboy hats, I always remember those cowboy hats.
Henry: The thing is they didn't leave with any money. Woody and Teddy Bradshaw won it all in the poker games.
Nathan: When did you play cards with them?
Henry: We stayed in the same motel.
Rick: I remember what they said on the hotel board at the Holiday Inn, It said "Welcome Blue Ridge Basketball Team." We thought, "Wow this must be pretty good."
Henry: Nathan interviewed Dick Neal and he was talking about how much better players are today and we got into a little bit of an argument. He finally admitted that if we had the same opportunities that they have now, there would have never been a team at the Gap that could have beaten us.
Rick: I think that was because we played together. I mean we played together all the time and we played a lot of Saturdays and Sundays. It was dedication, I mean we were out on the basketball court all the time. On Sunday afternoons we played till dark game, after game after game. Everybody did this and that is what made us a good foul shot shooting team and a good all around shooting team. We kid about Harold but he was a good shooter.
Henry: Because he shot a lot.
Rick: He shot a lot. If he had been black he would have been Michael Jordan. We all shot a lot.
Henry: Harold had the attitude that he was a good shot and he didn't want to take the chance of anyone else missing it.
Rick: But do you know what? They talk about players today like Harold and Henry every one thought they could make the shot except for Vincent. He could not shot.
Henry: Vincent was one of the best athlete I have ever seen. He could run the hundred yard dash in ten seconds flat without any training.
Rick: At 6 feet tall he was the only person I know that could grab the rim flatfooted. I was amazed, they say white boys can't jump, that boy could jump.
Henry: And he could run couldn't he!
Rick: When he got the ball he came off the rim with his elbow were straight out. You could never take it away from him.
Henry: And if you tried you would be on the floor.
Rick: He was the best offensive and defensive rebounder I have ever played with.
Henry: Vincent was tough, his shoulders were so broad
Rick: I think back and I don't believe I would have done anything different. I liked things the way they were. We were a very close team.
Henry: I've always told Nathan we played ball together we drank beer together and we chased woman together.
Rick: And one other thing, I can't ever remember a team that started five seniors.
Nathan: What is you fondest memory of that year?
Rick: I can't think of one specific fondest memory. I think when it was all over with the fact of us winning was the big thing. I think it was the times we had together. One time we were all in the room and, unfortunately, smoking. Cough Kegley walked in and we all tossed our cigarettes and he said "Melvin you have got to quite that smoking, it's going to kill you." There were a lot of good memories but I think the best part is that after all these years after I become fifty years old or older I can remember that we won the State Championship. Think back to all the more great players to come through that program and all the great teams, some maybe with more talented athletes, Vincent was one of them.
Henry: He was the only one we had, and he couldn't shoot.
Rick: Vincent almost could dunk it, Henry could dunk it, on a good day.
Henry: I could dunk it on a bad day.
Nathan: I'm glad your jumping on dad like that, you keep he's feet on the ground.
Rick: They concentrated on your dad a lot. I think that is what opened up a lot of the inside shots.
Nathan: As a player or a student would you have done anything different?
Rick: I liked school back when I was going. I think as a player, we didn't know any better. I mean we didn't have camps to go to, nor we did we have all of the sophistication they have today. I don't know if we would have been a better team or had been able to do anything better. I don't think we could have played any more, because we played all year around. To put it in perspective today, we as basketball players played all year around, we were in to basketball and did a good job with it.
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