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A lifetime of memories of the WVC tournament

By Frank Giardina
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's hard to believe that the final West Virginia Conference men's basketball tournament, as we know it, will take place this week at the Charleston Civic Center. Here are some of the names I'll think about this week.
  • Mike Barrett - The Richwood native was one of the best players in our state's history. He led West Virginia Tech to the 1963 tournament title and was the named the MVP. He also made all-tournament in 1964 and '65 and went on to win a gold medal playing for the 1968 U.S. Olympic team.
  • Spike Conley - The former South Charleston star was known for his left-handed long-range shooting at Morris Harvey. He was the MVP of the 1968 tournament. 
  • Fairmont State dynasty - Legendary coach Joe Retton was the John Wooden of the WVC, and every year the legion of Fairmont fans would roll into Charleston and take over Capitol Street, the Sterling  Restaurant and the Daniel Boone Hotel. The Falcons won nine WVC tournament titles from 1965-81 with great players such as Teddy Darcus, Davey Moore, Bill Moody, Wayne Denham, John Jamerson, Pat Sloan, Dave Cooper, Butch Haswell, Darryl Gainey, Lerman Battle, Ed Lemon, Bill Lindsey, Leroy Loggins, Dave Miller, Dwight Conaway and Dave Shaffer.
  • Glenville State - The early 1970s was the Golden Era of Glenville State basketball with tournament titles in 1970 and 1972. Jackie Joe Robinson from White Sulphur Springs was the MVP of the 1970 tournament and other stars included Jim Garnett, Steve Datcher, Earl Hawkins, Dale Tawney and Ron Jones.  
  • Roger Hart, Gerald Martin and Jerry Moore - The three were considered hoops royalty on the Morris Harvey campus in the 1960s. Moore, from Ansted, was tourney MVP in 1964. Hart from Charleston and Martin from Huntington earned all-tournament honors an amazing three years in a row (1965-67).
  • The Hamilton brothers - I moved to Charleston from the McDowell County coal community of Gary in 1964, and I felt as if Dave and Alan Hamilton moved with me. The two won a Class A state title in 1965 at Gary District High School, then went on to great careers at West Virginia State from 1966-69. Alan made all-tournament as a freshman in 1966 and Dave was a three-time all-tourney choice and MVP in 1969. 
  • Jim Hayes - One of the best players in Herbert Hoover history, Hayes turned down a chance to play at NC State to stay home and play for Morris Harvey and Rich Meckfessel.  He earned all-tournament honors in 1967 as the Golden Eagles defeated Fairmont State for the title. 
  • Will Johnson - The former DuPont all-stater went to Concord in 1976 and never left. Playing for the great Don Christie, he became one of the best players in WVC history and was the MVP of the 1979 tournament. He is still in Athens and has been a longtime coach there. 
  • Archie Talley - No player lit up the old Civic Center and WVC tournament like Salem's star. Talley earned all-tourney honors from 1974-76 and was an even bigger showman after the game. Fans will never forget his acceptance of his all-tourney honor in an all-white suit complete with a matching top hat.
  • Chuck Taylor and Ellis Long - Before the current era of West Liberty championships, this duo led the Hilltoppers to the 1971 WVC tourney title. Taylor was one of the great players in the history of the conference and Long was the tournament MVP. 
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