Big crowd on hand for first MHS Alumni basketball games –
By Mark Carpenter –
Memories of winter nights gone by, spent in a gymnasium, cheering on the local heroes- that was on the minds of the big crowd who gathered at Manchester High School on Friday, May 25 as former Greyhound hardwood heroes from six decades turned out to take part in the first-ever Manchester Alumni Basketball Games, appropriately deemed the “Hounds Come Home.” The evening was a benefit for the Karen K. Ballengee Educational Foundation, which will provide scholarships to deserving MHS graduates.
“Since Friday, the games have been the talk of the town,” said one of the organizers, Troy Thatcher. “Many people are already hoping we do it again next year.”
Over 75 former Greyhound basketball players showed up on Friday, all ready to prove that their skills hadn’t diminished one bit, though that may not have totally been the case in the night’s first game between Coach Jim Sandlin’s Faded Blue Team and Coach Dean Collins and the Gray team. With the two “veterans” manning the sideline and even putting in minutes on the court, and with rosters that may have added eve a few pounds and a few gray hairs, Coach Collins proved to be the master, leading his squad to a 39-14 victory, spurred by the solid play of 1995 MHS grad Darrell Redmon and the still quite athletic Brandon Phelps.
The game’s second contest reunited member of past teams of Manchester Lady Greyhounds, with the Blue Team coached by Roy Cooper and the Grey Team headed up by Vic Bowman and Larry Hamrick. After a first quarter that saw the two teams combine for a meager two points, the Grey team moved to a 10-8 halftime lead on a late bucket by Katie Little. Though a good time was had by all, the lack of offense continued throughout the second half and the contest ended with the Grey team taking a 17-13 victory.
Before the evening’s final battle, a number of ex-Hounds and Lady Hounds took the court for a Three-Point Shootout, with the eventual winner being 2009 MHS grad Jarred Quinlan.
The final game of the evening was the knock-down, drag-out game, but more importantly the Grey Team was coached by legendary Greyhound head coach Fred Edgington, who made an emotional return to the bench, wearing the blazer that he wore when he coached his final MHS contest, even having the pieces of chalk in the pocket that he then used to plot out his X’s and O’s. On the other sideline with the Blue Team was former MHS head coach Jeff Stricklett.
This final game featured some high flying, high-octane players of recent years, going at it in a pair of 20-minute halves. In the end, it was Stricklett’s Blue Team, led by Blake Blevins getting the best of Edgington’s gang by a final score of 79-66. The game and the night were fittingly sent off with slam dunks on both ends, first by Sean Frost from the Grey side, and then by Blevins as a big crowd went home all smiles, relishing in their special memories of Manchester basketball.