This week, I came across a newspaper clipping of a Charleston newspaper’s preseason All-Kanawha basketball team for 1972-73. The team members were Dennis Harris, Mike Jones and Charles “Dickie” Russell from Charleston High, Joey Holland and Billy Williams from George Washington, Joey Caruthers from DuPont, Harold Payne from South Charleston and Wendell Morrison from St. Albans.
This group had many college prospects. Harris went on to play at West Virginia State and Morris Harvey. Russell also played at West Virginia State. Jones, aka “Twig,” was a major recruit for Gale Catlett at Cincinnati. Caruthers and Morrison played at Old Dominion. Payne became a golf All-American at Marshall. Williams went on to play football at Kentucky when the Wildcats were a top-10 team. Holland played basketball at Kentucky and played in the 1975 Final Four. That Kentucky team lost to UCLA in the NCAA finals in John Wooden’s last game as coach.
Williams is now a successful businessman in southern California and he is thankful for having good coaching in the Kanawha Valley.
“These players of 1973 are examples of how sports and good coaching can help athletes be successful in life and then go on to have a positive impact on their communities,” Williams said. “Look at the incredible coaches we had in those days: Lou Romano, Steve Edwards, Fred Aldridge, Tex Williams, Joe Snodgrass, Bill Young and others. The athletes and their accomplishments are a tribute to great coaches.”
n This past week was the anniversary of the death of basketball legend Pete Maravich. His death triggered an interesting memory for former Sissonville basketball player Harry Carpenter.
In the early 1970s, Sissonville was a strong Class AAA team in the KVC. Among the players were Bill Walker, Raymond Jordan, Jerry Vorholt, Bill Day, Clinton Painter and Bobby Dawson. Former Ansted and Morris Harvey star Jerry Moore was an incredible coach at Sissonville before he became a successful football coach in New Jersey.
In 1971, Moore took his Sissonville team to Cincinnati to see the NBA’s Royals host Pete Maravich and the Atlanta Hawks. The Sissonville team stayed in the same hotel as the Hawks.
Carpenter remembers going into the hotel cafeteria and he noticed Maravich sitting by himself and eating alone. Carpenter worked up his courage and went over and sat with “The Pistol.”
“He was very welcoming. He could have dismissed me at any time, but he didn’t,” recalls Carpenter. “He relaxed, took his time and talked to me until he had to go. That night Pete scored 40. It was a thrill that I still remember even though it has been 50 years.”