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The Sixth Starter

By Ralphine Major

“Before someone says, ‘you can’t have six starters in basketball,’ I want to emphasize that you can have as many starters as you want to,” Bob Dagley said. “But, only five can play at the same time.” Dagley is the former coach of the Gibbs Eagles. The player he is referring to is Stanley Butler, another senior who played for Dagley’s Eagles. Butler did start several games for Gibbs in 1964-65, mainly as a guard. “Stanley was a competitor and wanted to play,” Dagley remembers. “I can understand his frustration when he did not get to play as much as he wanted to. It did not take me long that year to see the value he could contribute to the team.”

I had no idea the coach used so much strategy in racking up the 31-2 record for the Eagles. “Stanley was the only player I trusted to play either guard or forward position, and I used him at both positions,” the coach added. “When he entered the lineup, we didn’t miss a beat. The results were the same; only the way getting there may have been different.” Butler did not have the height advantage of some of the other players, but he was quick. According to Dagley, the sixth starter could jump and slip around a defensive player and get the inside rebounding position on him. Usually, Butler came down with the rebound. “Stanley did not copy any other player’s style of shooting,” the coach said. “He had his own. He was so quick, he could drive to the basket as good as anyone. He could shoot the ball on the run or shoot from a set position. His shots were not spectacular, but they were accurate. It was always surprising at the end of the game to see how many points Stanley had actually made. He had quietly got the job done.”

Dagley is quick to give credit to his sixth starter. “Some schools we played thought the best way to stop us was to press us full court,” he said. “This was a time I usually called on Stanley to help get the ball up court. I would take one of the taller forwards out and use Butler to join the other two guards in bringing the ball up court. When I look back, I cannot think of a time when he lost the ball against the press. With his quick feet and driving ability, he usually had the defensive player behind him quickly. We actually had three guards bring the ball up court and then Stanley would move back to a forward position when we crossed the half line.”

It is no wonder Dagley held No. 10 in reserve. He could always depend on him and his ball-handling skill to help the Eagles secure another win.

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