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WIDNER: Going Wide for Rebounds (Part III)

By Ralphine Major

It was a scrapbook from the sixties.  There was nothing fancy on the pages like is seen in today’s scrapbooks.  But, it had all I needed to see.  Bold headlines and pictures clipped from the local newspapers—the Knoxville Journal and Knoxville News Sentinel–captured the action of the Gibbs Eagles’ amazing 1964-65 season.  Captions labeled senior forward David Widner as a “resourceful Eagle,” a “soaring Eagle,” and “tough on the boards.”  One story documented Widner’s 28 rebounds in one game.

“As the season moved along, Widner became more confident,” Eagles’ Coach Bob Dagley observed.  “He found that some of the moves he had been taught actually worked.  It looked like he got a lot of pleasure in getting a rebound, giving a head and shoulder fake, and having the defensive players jump.  As they were coming down, he would power the ball up, bank it off the backboard, and get fouled and free throws, too.  He handled the ball well in that kind of traffic.”  Dagley added.  In the scrapbook, I saw a picture of the fake shot Widner used so successfully against opponents to help propel the Eagles to a 31-2 season and 3rd in the state.  The action shot shows Widner hunched down holding the ball with three defenders hovering over him.  I could almost “hear” the roar of the crowd   anticipating his next move.

David Widner was one of three Gibbs players—along with teammates Leslie Spitzer and Tommy Everette—on the Knoxville Interscholastic League’s (KIL) “A” Division All-Star Team that year.

I think the coach was right when he said that Widner was a key to the team’s incredible success.

“David came a long way as a basketball player and as a young man from the first of the 1964-65 season until the last game,” Coach Dagley said.  He took the role he was asked to take and played it well.  I believe our first loss of the season to Murfreesboro hurt David as much if not more than any of the other players, and he showed it,” Dagley added.  The coach seemed to know more about his players than just their ability to dunk, dribble, and score.

I was anxious to learn from David what he remembered most about that special season.

(This is No. 14 in the series on the Gibbs Eagles’ outstanding ‘64-65 season.  Next week concludes the David Widner story.)

 

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