1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


Playing Basketball
 Jim Thurmond July 09

My senior year, 1953, our basketball team went to Meadow Bridge to play a team that hadn't lost a game up to that fateful night. Their town folks gave us a real welcome by throwing lumps of coal at our bus and called us a lot of names that were included in the "10 words you can't say on TV". We got off our school bus, and as a huddled up group, we rushed into the dressing room to get ready to do battle with this mining community's undefeated basketball team. I have little memory of the game except it was close and with us having a 1 point lead I fouled out. There were only a few seconds left on the clock and Meadow Bridge came down the floor expecting to win the game with one last shot, however one of our substitute players did a neat tackle from behind as the Meadow Bridge player was going for the wining lay up. It was a lot like the baseball story of Casey at the Bat, This standout basketball player missed both of his foul shots and we won the game. The first thing coach Abe McLaughlin had to say in our dressing room was "Boys the good Lord must have been with you all tonight because that boy has never missed two foul shot in a row in his life." The escape from town in out Yellow school bus was aided by town police and The West Virginia Highway Patrol highway. Just as our football team left this town as a winning team earlier in the year, we also tasted the thrill of victory and having survived lumps of coal, rocks, slate and unkind words. Later in the basketball season Meadow Bridge came to Alderson to play us the second time that year. We lost by 20 points. They hit shots that were sometimes from half court and ran us off the court. It was a bigger disappointment for me because my Uncle Orr Huffman came to see me play for the first time. I had a good game and scored around 20 points but it wasn't even close. What goes around comes around sometimes.

One memory I have that was real, funny took place in Ronceverte in the old armory. I loved to play there. It was hot and loud. I was playing guard along with Barry Keadle and I started down the floor with the ball and suddenly every one there was shouting and pointing at me. I looked down to see if my uniform was open or maybe they just thought I was the greatest. The referee was blowing his whistle and asking me for the ball and only then did I find our that all the excitement wasn't me but two women fighting and tearing their clothes off under the goal from where we had just started. I found out it really wasn't me.

Barry Keadle was always a fun team mate. He had a little song he would sing as we came down the floor that sounded something like this..."I was out in the barnyard shoveling s---, and if the handle hadn't broken I'd be there yet". I really miss that guy!!!

Mr. Mitchell started coaching some of us in the 6th grade and we would play tailcoat, and a few other small schools. I was real proud of myself one time for taking a rebound from a foul shot and putting it up and in, however it was on the wrong end of the floor. Barry Keadle, Robert Mann, Andy McThenia, H.R. Ayers were some of us on that young group starting out.

I mentioned my Uncle Orr Huffman earlier and I would like to tell you a little about him. He played basketball for Alderson when the basketball court was in the top of the old grade school building. At that time the rules called for a Jump ball at the center of the floor after each basket. He remembered beating Hinton 11 to 10 one game. It must have been interesting.

I always loved to play Basketball and did so for many years after leaving high school. I attended The Apprentice school, part of the Newport News Shipbuilding company for 4 Years and played on house league teams. You didn't practice, just showed up and played. I think sometimes this is where the indoor football league got its start. Some of the games were like that. It was a lot of fun. I also played in a city league and for the Marine Corps Reserve center where I was a member. I had a chance to play against some real good players and learned a lot. One man I can remember was named Lefty Dresell, a local high school coach. I always wondered what happened to him. I finally stopped playing when my team mates and I would rather sit on the bench than run up and down the floor.

I never dunked a basketball or even came close. I wouldn't be able to play the game that they play in High School now but I had fun and enjoyed almost all of it, Except for the losses, and even learned to live through them.