Sports History Column

BOONE: History of Darlington Basketball

Rich Douglas looks back on his playing days

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The four most prolific scorers in Darlington history were responsible for most of the points in the last three years. Rich Douglas, became a starter midway through his freshman year, and ended an 86 game career in 1970 with 1296 points for a 15.6 average.  He had 457 points that year for an average of 19.9 with a high game of 35 against Roachdale his junior year.  His brother, Bill, finished his career with 750 points in his 47 game career good for an average of 16.0 per game.

Rich Douglas reminisces:

“I moved to Darlington in the 5th grade from Crawfordsville. Not really into basketball until recess came up and Gary Dale and I started playing basketball. That’s when both of us fell in love with it. Of course, at Darlington, everyone loved basketball. It wasn’t just the school, it was the town. My freshman year, our coach was Galen Smith — a serious, military kind of coach. For some unknown reason, he moved me up to varsity after the first few games, and I learned that basketball is life -— you do your very best at everything you do. He expected 100 percent effort, 100 percent of time. I can remember my sophomore year, we went to East Tipp and got beat like 98-82 or some ridiculous defensive battle. We came home and practiced and he said that we would never embarrass our school again. I believe that was the last regular season game we lost.
But strange as it sounds — everything fell into place. Dan Nichols grew and matured into a fantastic teammate. Don Threlkeld was the best friend and athlete I could ask for — he showed us what team basketball meant. Roy Wright, Fred Warren, Tom Lehe, Jim Gable — everyone knew their roles and accepted them. Our team did not fight about stats or playing time. We worked at winning and playing good basketball. When Dave Nicolson came in to coach my junior year, it worked well for us. Galen started our foundation, and Dave just kept it growing. The thing I will never forget is the fan base — there were only four sports and the town lived for basketball. I will never forget at the Lebanon Sectional, when our cheerleaders did the 2 bits, 4 bits, 6 bits, a dollar, all for Darlington stand up and holler — you looked around at the gym filled with 5000 people and it looked like 4900 of them stood and cheered for us. We always believed our school did not win the sectional, our town did.
Why did we win that sectional? Our toughest competition all year was our second string and JV. I believe our JV was undefeated also, and they wanted playing time, so it was like a war at practice. I think of my senior year, and Chopper Cain (Terry) was our 6th man. Roy was out for a game and Terry came in and scored 24 points — and I can add playing against Stan Weliever, Steve Apple, Bob Waye, Gary Mahoy, Charlie Warren, Jim Tribbett, Mark Maxwell — I could go on and on, made us the team we became.

Practice made us good. However, we were also surrounded by great athletes in our county — Dave Williamson, Rick Haas, Daryl Warren, Mike Mitchell and Phil Myers from Waveland, Dean Miller, again every school seemed to have great players and the County Keg meant everything to us, so competition was great.”

(Ed. Note.) When the firing was all over in the County, the Indians had the Keg.  They had it for the longest time (2 years, 10 mos., 16 days) and they had it for the shortest time (7 hours). The coveted keg now resides in the Indiana High School Basketball Hall of Fame at New Castle

Douglas resumes, “I have to add that after playing at Darlington, it made coaching really hard. I just assumed teams won every game — I found that was not true.  Keep in mind — we were not just a basketball team — we also ran track, cross country and played baseball together. I think we all spent a lot more time together than we did with our own families. I get asked a lot if I wished we had class basketball back then.  My answer is always NO.  I would never trade that one sectional we won for winning a class state title.  It was special.”

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

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Darrel Jorgensen (Linden)

Great interview. Darlington was always fun to watch, if not frustrating. But then Linden did some frustrating, too. #FourCorners Montgomery County BB was special and for those who did not experience it, whether on the floor or in the bleachers, they will never understand. Fan bus and all.

Tuesday, March 17