Parkersburg High School to honor 1970 champions

It has been 50 years since a Parkersburg High School boys basketball team has won a state championship.

Members of that last state championship boys basketball team from 1970 will be honored at events this month.

PHS boys basketball coaches and basketball boosters decided the 1970 team should be recognized on the 50th anniversary of its accomplishment, said assistant coach Jeremy Bell, who is leading the recognition effort.

Players and coaches from the 1970 state champion team and their family members are invited to a reception at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24 at J.P. Henry’s restaurant in Parkersburg. This will be an opportunity for the players and coaches to get reacquainted, said Bell, a former Big Red basketball player.

The next night, Feb. 25, PHS basketball players from 1970-72 are invited to a reunion at the high school. They should meet at Memorial Fieldhouse at 5 p.m.

At 5:30 p.m. Feb. 25, the former PHS basketball players will move to the mini-gym near the fieldhouse for a reunion. The players will be taken on a tour of some of the athletic facilities and receive free admission to the basketball game that night.

The 1970 state champs will be introduced and honored at halftime of the PHS vs. Morgantown game around 8-8:15 p.m. The Feb. 25th game also is Senior Night for the current PHS basketball team.

Plans call for the current PHS boys basketball team to meet with the state champions from 1970 at the Feb. 24 reception at J.P. Henry’s, Bell said.

Bell said he has heard that nine or 10 members of the 1970 state championship team, along with family members, plan to attend the reunion.

“The coaching staff wanted to do something” to honor this team, Bell said. The 50th anniversary of that memorable state championship is a good time to do this, he said.

Charlie Hickox, a teacher and former coach at Baker High School in Mobile, Ala., is looking forward to attending the PHS basketball reunion.

Hickox was the leading scorer on the 1970 state championship team, was first team Class AAA all-state and received the Bill Evans Award as the state basketball player of the year. He played basketball at West Virginia University and Edinboro University.

The 1970 team lost only one game, to Huntington High, and finished the season at 25-1, Hickox said.

The 1970 team’s goal was to win a state championship, Hickox said.

“We pulled together … we were a cohesive team,” Hickox said. Hickox and Jim Henry were co-captains of the 1970 team.

Hickox looked forward to visiting with his former coach Sam Mandich during trips to Wood County.

Jim Henry, who lives in Delaware, said he won’t be able to attend the February reunion and will miss talking to his former teammates.

“The games that were most gratifying to me were the ones where all five starters scored in double digits and several of the bench players scored, too,” Henry said in an email.

“Charlie usually led us in scoring. He was really an outstanding player, ultimately chosen basketball player of the year in West Virginia and we managed to form a cohesive unit around him,” Henry said.

“When I watched the Spurs (San Antonio of the NBA) during their heyday, making 5 passes in 7 seconds to find the best shot, it reminded me of the way we were coached — always to make the best pass, to find the open man. We had an outstanding bench, and I really felt like I was friends with everyone on the team,” Henry, a graduate of Princeton University, said.

Henry attributes a lot of his success as a basketball player and in life to Coach Sam Mandich. He said Mandich was an inspiration to him.

“In addition to being a smart basketball mind, he (Mandich) genuinely cared about each and every boy on the team. We all felt it. He was also a school counselor — the perfect skill set for a basketball coach,” Henry said.

Henry remembers the outstanding school spirit at PHS.

The fieldhouse was always packed for basketball games and it was loud inside the building, Henry said. The student body supported the team.

Henry played professional basketball in Switzerland for seven years and later became a teacher.

Mike Hayden was the official scorekeeper for the 1970 basketball team, along with being an assistant football coach and head track coach at PHS during the 1969-70 school year.

Hayden described the Big Reds as a “really solid basketball team” in 1970. The team had size in the frontcourt, speed and good athletes, he said.

After PHS defeated Logan High School, 61-54, to win the state championship at the Charleston Civic Center in 1970, Hayden said, Logan coach Willie Akers complimented the Big Red coaches on having a great basketball team.

Contact Paul LaPann at plapann@newsandsentinel.com