Several members of West Side's 1983 state championship basketball team convened Sunday afternoon in Greers Ferry for their 30th reunion held to commemorate and reminisce on the best basketball season in Cleburne County history.
Coach Charles Brady, Terry Carr, Mike Shea, Gary Stark, Scott Brady and Mike Cothren had arrived by mid afternoon with more expected to drop by the old gym, where the Eagles created memories that will last a lifetime.
West Side finished with an overall record of 36-1 with its only loss coming to Camden Fairview 65-57 in the quarterfinal round of the overall tournament, which pitted all of the state champions in one bracket.
The Eagles soared through 2A-South Conference play with an undefeated mark of 16-0. West Side edged rival Concord in a low scoring game to win district, then beat Caraway and Viola to win the regional tournament in Greers Ferry.
Playing at the Class A state tournament in Beebe, the Eagles defeated Palestine in the first round, Bismarck in the semifinals and Gould 43-42 in the championship game behind a late jumper from Cothren.
Coach Charles Brady, who ended his career with 844 victories, said his team didn't care who got the glory.
“I had some really good teams before but I would have three or four guys and being a small school I was lacking one or two guys to win it. But, this group did good all the way through.
“They played like a team, always did and that is the reason they won it. The most important thing to them was to win, not who did what. And that is the way I coached. We didn't have any stars,” added Brady.
In the state championship game the Eagles were down five with a little over a minute to play. “We fouled one of their best players,” Brady recalled. “He had won the game for them the day before on a free throw. He shot a complete brick and I called timeout and said, 'Guys foul him every time he touches it.'
“He is the best player they had and we knew they would throw it to him. It worked and we got the ball back with 12 seconds down one, called timeout and won.”
Cothren, who led the Eagles in scoring, hit a bank shot off a screen play drawn up by Brady. “We set up a little screen play under the basket. We screened a man off and got him [Mark] open and he banked one and we won by one.”
Brady also recalled a close win against rival Concord, which decided to use a stall tactic against the Eagles.
“We beat them 13-12. Back then they jumped the ball every quarter and we jumped, went down and scored two and they went down and held it until the end of the quarter and missed.
Page 2 of 2 - “They jumped it again and we went down and scored to make it 4-0. Same thing after half and it was 6-0 going into the fourth quarter.
“They decided to play a little bit in the fourth and they had the ball with a chance to win. We called timeout and we knew who was going to shoot it. We had three all over him when he shot it. It hit the rim and rolled around and fell off,” added Brady.
The Eagles had a physical, disciplined team. “We weren't big kids but at that time we were bigger than most. They were an outstanding group to work with. They did what you asked them to do. We didn't have but about three rules, but they went by those three,” emphasized Brady. “A lot of people have a lot of rules but they never enforce them. We enforced them and like I told the kids there is not one of you I can't do without.”
Members of the West Side championship team include Coach Brady, Terry Carr, Shea, Stark, Scott Brady, Cothren, Eddie Whitehurst, Bruce Harper, Steve Treece, David Grimes, Jeff Barnum, Pete Stewart, Bryan Gentry, Kevin Stewart, Greg Carr and managers Jim Kearns and Richard Dean.
This group gave Cleburne County, which is home to four schools, its only state basketball title.