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A Tournament is Reborn

It was 42 years ago, and their names and faces remain familiar to most people in Winchester. 

Back then, they were just boys, a few ornery, – young basketball players – and pretty good ones at that. 

Scott Wickersham, Dean Edwards, Jeff Green, Kenny McCoy and Joe Hawley, to name the key players. 

The year was 1979, in the first days of January. In the first Randolph County Tournament that featured all five of the current consolidated schools, these Golden Falcons pulled away in the second half to defeat Monroe Central, 60-46. 

Trailing 16-8 after the first quarter, Winchester coach Tom Zell changed up the defense to a 1-3-1 trap, and it changed the momentum as the Falcons pulled to within one at halftime and outscored Steve Reed’s Bears 22-11 in the third quarter. 

Wickersham led all scorers with 17 and Joe Hawley, a junior, tossed in 16 for the winning Falcons. Tony Starr had 12 for the Bears and Shane Smithson had 11. 

The Falcons had advanced to the finals with a 67-52 win over Randolph Southern in the semifinals as Green scored 21 for the Falcons and Ed Reece had 18 for the Rebels. Monroe Central topped Union 76-67 as Starr totaled 24 points. 

Earlier in that inaugural tournament, Monroe Central’s Lady Bears, under the guidance of Sue (Wilder) Hamilton, defeated Randolph Southern, 39-29. Sabrina Sharp had 18 points to lead the Bears. There were three technical fouls called in the fourth quarter as emotions ran high. 

Monroe Central had advanced with a 76-52 win over Union in the semifinals as Mary Traub erupted for 29 points and Lori Reed added 18 points. Randolph Southern edged Winchester 50-47 in the semifinals. 

Trust someone who was there and remembers those early teams battling against one another. The gyms were often packed. The fans were rabid. 

Of course, there were no three-pointers and no class basketball. Back then though, it was not uncommon for our teams to take on the big schools and hold their own, if not beat them on occasion. 

People often will try and compare some those teams and some of those players with those of today. I don’t think that’s a fair comparison, but what I will say is those teams back then had some real talent. 

On Wednesday night, at two different sites (Union City and Monroe Central) thanks to the pandemic, four teams competed in the opening round in hopes of advancing to the semifinals. The boys’ semifinals are Thursday at Randolph Southern and Union City. The girls’ semifinals are Friday at Winchester and Monroe Central. The finals are both set for Saturday at Monroe Central, girls at 4 p.m.

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