By Steve Williams
His players hadn’t heard of “Rupp’s Runts,” but Halls High School basketball coach Randy Moore knew about the famous Kentucky team of the mid-1960s coached by Adolph Rupp.
I had heard Moore had a “short” team this season, so I asked him if he would be offended if I nicknamed his team Randy’s Runts.
“Randy’s Runts would be fine,” answered Moore, laughing. “I’m definitely no Adolph Rupp, but still I’ll take the Runts part because these Runts are definitely playing hard like those Rupp’s Runts.”
One Halls player, Kenny White, had heard about that Kentucky team. He knew Pat Riley was on it. He knew that UK team had lost to Texas Western in a historic NCAA championship game. He just hadn’t heard of the team’s nickname, “Rupp’s Runts.”
I told Kenny he might want to google it. He and his teammates also could ask their grandfathers about that team.
Randy’s Runts took a 20-8 record into this past Saturday night’s Region 2-AAA first-round game against Bearden with the hope of becoming Coach Moore’s first Halls team to reach the region semifinals this week.
“Yeah, we’re the smallest team, I think, in the district,” said Moore, again chuckling.
“Some of the things we’ve accomplished with a short team just shows the heart and determination of these players.”
Senior starters Peyton Booker is 5-foot-11, White 6-foot, JJ Corvette 5-7, Harrison White 6-2 and Robert Miller 6-2. Braxton Moore, the coach’s son and the only junior starter, is 5-10.
“They’re all guards,” said Moore when asked for the starters’ positions.
Harrison, who transferred from Powell to Halls for his senior season, and Miller are technically post players, “but Robert’s best asset is his outside shot and not his post up,” said Moore.
Moore calls Booker a “power guard.” He also jumps center for the opening possession.
“He does a good job timing the tip,” Moore pointed out. “We actually get the tip about half the time.”
The Halls coach added that Kenny and Peyton are “best at elevating to the rim.”
Kenny White, Booker and Corvette have been Halls’ leading scorers this season, but that doesn’t really matter.
“For them, it’s all about winning,” said Moore. “It’s not about individual statistics. I love that about them.”
The Halls coach said his players have done a good job of playing their roles and have a special camaraderie.
Coach Moore, at 5-9, also was a short player in his playing days. As a senior at Sevier County in 1989, he received honorable mention All-State as he helped lead the Smoky Bears, coached by his dad, Steve, to their first-ever district title.
“I think short people follow me where ever I coach, to be honest with you,” said Moore, who coaches the boys and girls teams at Halls as he previously had done at Seymour.
“I’ve always had smaller boys teams, but I seem to have taller girls. It’s an odd thing.”
Moore has shared the same message with his team that he heard from his father.
“My dad always told me I’ve got to play harder and smarter because I’m not big.”
One way the Red Devils, or Randy’s Runts, try to combat their lack of height is hitting 3-point shots. They made 15 of them in a game against Anderson County.
“If our 3s are going well, I know we will give it all we have defensively,” said Moore.
When that’s happened, Halls has been a tall order for the opposition.