Dick Haslam coached more then a decade of Indiana high school basketball, but a single player comes to mind when the former Athenian and Butler Bulldog makes a list of his top players.
Robert “Bob” Williams passed away in early September due to COVID-19 complications — and now the former Athenian basketball star is being remembered for his leadership and talent on the court.
“If I would list the top 10 players that played for me, he would certainly be at the top of the list,” Haslam, who coached at Crawfordsville for seven seasons, Maconaquah three and Brownsburg one, said.
Williams totaled 1,008 points for the Athenians, before graduating in 1964. He was inducted into the Montgomery County Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005, and helped the Athenians to sectional titles in 1963 and 1964. The title in 1964, Haslams’ first year at the helm, might be one of the more impressive sectional titles Crawfordsville owns thanks to Williams.
“We had sort of a mediocre season,” Haslam said. “We had not won much in the regular season, but we won the sectional and had won the afternoon game at Greencastle after being 10 points down with a minute and four to go against Williamsport.”
Trailing 62-61, Haslam called a timeout to set up the game-winning shot, but it didn’t go exactly as planned.
“I had called a timeout to set up of course Bobby Williams with the last shot and we had set a double pick for him and he came off of it and he had a shot,” Haslam, who won the 1958 Arthur L. Trester Mental Attitude Award during the IHSAA state title game, in which Crawfordsville lost to Fort Wayne South 63-34, said. “which would have been about a 20-foot jumper, but he passed the shot up and passed it to JB Rowan, and he hit a baseline jumper with no time on the clock. But that was Bobby. He was unselfish.”
Crawfordsville beat Williamsport 63-62, before falling to Greencatle in the regional final.
Williams went on to have a long and successful career as an insurance agent in Tipton, Indiana, but according to Haslam made it back several times to play golf at Rocky Ridge with his former coach and teammates in Jeff Davis and Vance Pyle.
While Haslam only coached Williams for one season following the tenure of legendary coach Dick Baumgartner, Williams helped set the standard for what was in store for Athenian basketball.
“He just epitomized the kind of player you hoped you’d have every year,” Haslam said. “And we did have some of those — the Larry Grimes of the future, Bobby Hodges, Wayne Hubbard, Bobby Reese — those kids were sort of cut off the same stock as Bobby Williams. And I think a lot of it was they were kids growing up when Bobby was doing his stuff on the court, and they realized that’s what you do as an outstanding ball player and leader.”
That’s who Bob Williams was his whole life — as a basketball player and professionaly — a leader.