Sports Column

BOONE: Darlington Basketball — Memories from coach Galen Smith

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I was fortunate to have great athletes who were good students, fun to be around, hard workers, and winners. Several of the athletes played three or four sports each year to stay in shape for their real love — basketball (This could have been at my suggestion). We started slowly the first year, but ended up with a respectable record of 11-13. I could see, however, that the future looked good.

We lost five seniors after the first year; three were starters, so we had to kind of start over. We had only five wins by the time the county rolled around, but lost in the first game to Linden in two overtimes. After the County, we beat a Granville Wells team that was 15-2 by a score of 65-44. We won our next game against Waynetown and I could see that we were getting better. We drew a very good Speedway team in the sectional (They were 19-2). Speedway beat us 62-52 and went on to win the sectional.

The next year (1966-67), we got off to a good start and improved a lot. We had more experience and some good young players, helping the cause. We won the 4-way tourney and ended up 15-6.

My last year was 1967-68 and it was apparent early in the season that we were going to be pretty good. We won our first two games, and then lost the third, before winning the next seven in a row. By the end of the year, we had a great year. Some of the highlights of the season were:

• We set a new school record by scoring 109 points in a single game.

• We won the 4-way Tourney at Waynetown.

• We won the County Tourney, beating Coal Creek Central 100-78.

• We won the Big Conference Championship.
• We won 18 games and lost only 4.

My family loved the four years at Darlington and had the opportunity to teach and coach some wonderful students. We really hated to leave Darlington, but had a great opportunity to move to a larger school.

. . .

After leaving Darlington, Galen Smith went to Oak Hill where his teams had three winning seasons in four years winning the MIC Conference twice; they also won one sectional, one regional and played in the Sweet Sixteen at Fort Wayne for the first time in school history.

He then moved to Rochester where he coached for ten years where he coached the Zebras to six winning seasons, including an undefeated season, where they lost in the final game of the sectional to Warsaw.  He led Rochester to three conference championships, two sectionals and two 4-way tourney championships.

In his twenty years of coaching, Coach Smith sent five players to the Division 1 level; those players were Dan Nichols who went from Darlington to the University of Evansville, Monte Towe who went from Oak Hill to North Carolina State, Neil Bemenclerfer who played for Smith at Rochester and went to Purdue, John Carr who went from Rochester to Butler, and Tony Jones who went from Rochester to Arkansas-Little Rock. He also watched several of his players go to top-flight college programs.

Smith has to be especially proud of coaching Monte Towe from Oak Hill who was only 5’7”, but went to North Carolina State and teamed with David Thompson and 7’6” Tom Burelson to help the Wolfpack win 1974 NCAA Tournament. 

Monte Towe later joined David Thompson in the NBA where he played with the Denver Nuggets. Towe and Thompson were credited with developing the Alley-Oop pass. Since dunking was illegal in those days, Towe would throw a high arching pass to Thompson who with his 44” vertical jump would drop it gently into the basket. Towe later was an assistant coach at several colleges and is presently an Associate Head Coach at his high school Alma Mater, Oak Hill

Galen Smith concluded his remarks by writing,  “The athletes and I had 274 victories in my 20 years of coaching.  It was a great time.”                                                                                         

Bill Boone is a local sports historian who contributes to the Journal Review.

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