By Ralphine Major
It must have been special to have a family member on Bob Dagley’s ‘64-65 basketball team. Surely, it was extra-special for the Clay Graves family: they had two! Brothers Ron, a senior starter, and Mike, a junior, were part of the 11-member squad. Recently, the brothers recalled some moments from their basketball days.
When Dagley’s team played in the District 6 tournament, Ron and Les Spitzer were doing a lot of pick and rolls. The opponents were covering Spitzer heavily, and Ron was getting the ball off the pick and roll and scoring. Ron got the pass and went up to shoot and was taken out by a player on the opposing team who later played football in college.
Ron hit the floor and Mike started off the bench. Dagley knew Mike would be going to his brother’s aid and stopped Mike before he could get far. Mike was the more physical of the two brothers. Ron says of his younger brother, “he would have been a really good football player because he was strong as an ox and quick.” The only problem was that there was no football at Gibbs back in those days. Ken Sparks had not yet arrived to restart the program.
Mike graduated from Gibbs in 1966. While he was in college or working to raise money for college, Mike would return to Gibbs to assist Coach Dwane Ritter in practice. He would play ball with the team and teach them moves that he had learned as a player. After Mike finished his college degree, Gibbs started a league for children to teach them how to play basketball. Ritter recruited Mike to coach in the league. Coach Ritter’s son, Greg, was one of the players on the team Mike coached along with twins Dean and Daryl Brown, Tim Miracle, and Jay Wormsley. I called Jay who remembered the team being featured in the Halls Shopper. Jay later wrote for the Shopper and is now the Assistant Principal and Athletic Director at Halls Middle School. He provided the names of the other players: Allen Berry, James Berry, Freddie Beeler, Kyle Beeler, Mike Beeler, and Barry Simmons. Their hard work paid off. The talented team won the Junior League Championship in the early ‘70s! (This is No. 32 in the Eagles’ series.)