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The southern coalfields of West Virginia lost one of their greatest athletes in late April.

Former WVU football standout Jack Stone died at the age of 88. Stone was one of the most heavily recruited athletes in the state when he came out of Mount Hope High School in 1950. He was recruited by Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Miami and others. At Mount Hope, Stone was a four-sport letterman in football, basketball, baseball and track.

Like Robert Alexander in the mid-1970s, Stone was so coveted by WVU that Gov. Okey Patteson persuaded Stone to go to Morgantown.

At WVU, Stone played on the 1954 Sugar Bowl team that featured Bruce Bosley and Sam Huff. Stone was a running back, a defensive back, a punter and punt returner. He also kicked extra points.

After college Stone became a coach, and in the late 1960s he made his way to Logan, where he coached and taught for 29 years. He was an assistant coach in basketball for Willie Akers and coached such players as Mark Hatcher, Ross Scaggs and Emil Boatwright.

Stone had the thrill of coaching his son Mike on 1977 and 1978 Logan teams that won back-to-back Class AAA state championships. In 1977 Logan defeated Washington Irving out of Clarksburg 111-87 and in 1978 the Wildcats defeated East Bank 67-60. Mike Stone would go on to play for Joe Retton at Fairmont State.

Another Logan starter was Scott Ellis, who would play at Concord. The Wildcats also had athletic Tony Blackmon, who would go on to be a starting running back at Virginia Tech in football.

The 1978 East Bank team that lost in the state finals were coached by Bill Turner. The starters were Steve McCune, Mike McCune, Rick Divita, John Moore and Manny Jones. Jones would go on to Fairmont State and Steve McCune would go to WVU. McCune’s uncle, Allen McCune, was the starting QB on the Mountaineers’ 1964 Liberty Bowl team.

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You must be a true in-state sports geek to notice two of the local connections to the wildly popular Michael Jordan ESPN documentary “The Last Dance”.

One of the main factors in building the Chicago Bulls dynasty was the hiring of “Tex” Winter as an assistant coach for Phil Jackson. Winter is considered the innovator of the triangle offense. Even the most avid Marshall fan probably does not remember that Winter was the head coach at Northwestern in 1973-74 and he brought the Wildcats to Huntington to play in the 1973 MMI Tournament. His team lost to Marshall 59-58 in a first-round game.

Another focus of the documentary has been the rivalry between Isiah Thomas and Jordan. As a high school player, Thomas played in the finals of a national AAU tournament in Huntington in the summer of 1978. Thomas lost in the finals to a West Virginia team that featured Scott Ellis from Logan, Alan Williams from Princeton, Earl Jones from Mount Hope and David Wade from Huntington. The game was televised statewide on public television.

Contact Frank Giardina at flg16@hotmail.com.