by Ken Hurst, December 2, 2010
Congratulations to both Flick McDonald and Steve Sparks for coaching their respective Girls' Volleyball and Boys' Soccer teams to Championship seasons for the Anderson Valley High School Panthers. Both of these teams are the result of good coaching and successful programs that endure to produce proud players who are strong and very good.
It was awesome that Flick McDonald's Girls' Volleyball team finally went all the way for this excellent coach. Coach McDonald's teams almost always win their league title but in the post league forum eventually are defeated by a team with too much height to overcome. This season of 2010, his (always) well-conditioned team was able to overcome all obstacles in their path to win it all. Cheers for Flick and his marvelous team who are the Small School Champions.
Coach Steve Sparks and his terrific team enhanced the legacy of the late Tom Smith, a fine coach and wonderful man. The AVHS boys' Panther Soccer team is always good and coach Sparks in his first season as head coach took them beyond the league title to winning the Small School Boys' Soccer Championship. It was a great tribute to Tom Smith and a superb way to begin a head-coaching career. Congratulations to Steve and his wonderful team.
These two terrific teams of the fall semester of 2010 join the 1958-59 boys' basketball team who went beyond winning the league title to winning the Redwood Empire Championship in the post season play-offs.
1958-59 was the first year that the Redwood Classic Basketball Tournament was played in the “new” high school and its outstanding gymnasium and basketball court.
The “new” high school was built in l957-58. The 1958-59 basketball season was the late Coach Bob Mathias' first season as a coach and a teacher. Shine Tuttle was the excellent contractor who built the new school and its gymnasium. The gym was so beautiful as a basketball arena that Coach Mathias created the Redwood Classic prior to the beginning of the '58-59 season because he knew our new gym would be a great draw for many teams to travel to Boonville to compete.
The '58-59 boys' basketball team didn't do very well at the first classic because their leading scorer and defensive stopper had broken his finger in the last football game of the season. The change from football to basketball seasons was quick in those distant days.
The Redwood Classic Basketball Tournament has continued successfully for 52 years this week because the high school and many volunteers have made the tournament both team and fan friendly for the many teams who travel. Plus, the tournament is run with competence and fairness for everyone.
I have seen it written that the tournament began in the '57-58 season. But, that's wrong. Bill Long and David Gowan were the basketball stars of the '57-58 team and Bill Long told me recently he never played in the tournament because it didn't exist.
I do remember in our first game of the '57 season that we played Fort Bragg High and they had an excellent 6'7" center. And, though David Gowan was only 5'9" or so, he was our beginning of game jump-ball center. He out-jumped the Fort Bragg center like we knew he would. David could jump like a deer.
The 1974 AVHS football team of Dan Kuny and Tony Pardini should be mentioned with other great Panther teams because they were league champs and there weren't any play-offs to go farther.
See ya at the Redwood Classic basketball tournament which begins Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. with Branson (perennial champ, almost) playing Laytonville. Anderson Valley doesn't play until Thursday evening.