Thursday, November 8, 2012


High school basketball season will tip off across America this time of year as well as the college game.  We at have vowed to follow the high school season with more fervor this year.  Not because we are out of material on the college game, but because of how pure the high school game remains.  

Our first post showed the salaries of multiple division I coaches.  Across the country high school coaches do it for the love of the game.  (see the list below for the 10 winningest high school coaches of all time).  They put in hours, coach summer camps, drive kids home at night, to and from practice.  Arguably, at large high schools, head coaches put in the same hours as small college coaches, often while managing a full teaching load.

As the season tips off, each team in one capacity or another has virtually the same goal or some form of it and it always involves the word "State."   "Take State," "Going to State", "Winning State".   "State" is something you obtain, you go to, its a place, yet it's also an achievement, it is a malleable term -- diverse, hybrid, and still yet a finite point in direction, goal and end.    

Tens of thousands of kids will start the season with talk of "State" for some it's a bus ride to a town or city and basketball arena they have only heard about, for other's it's a chance to miss school if their team does well.   For coaches, officials and fans it's a yearly epicenter of high school basketball in their own "State".   Which is what makes state -- State.  

There are only three "all state" state tournaments remaining.   Only Kentucky, Delaware and Hawaii offer an all class state tournament.  In Kentucky, the tournament draws over 120,000 fans annually for the "Sweet 16" as teams open the tournament in district tournaments, followed by 16 team regionals and then the "Sweet 16" or state tournament.  (And yes, Kentucky's High School Activities Association actually owns the rights to the term "Sweet 16").  The seeding for this tournament is determined by random draw and televised statewide.  This year for the first time ever the final game will be played on a Sunday.  Lexington Lafayette High School and Lexington Herald High School each own 6 boys basketball state championships in Kentucky. 

In Kentucky, Delaware and Hawaii, no matter how large your school is or how small your school is, there is only one state champion.  The movie Hoosiers best characterized this format of a state tournament.  Tiny Hickory advancing through sectionals, regionals and to the state championship.  At that time, Indiana had only one state tournament.  In 1997, against the sentiment of Hickory High's own Bobby Plump, Indiana did away with the all school state tournament and began classification based tournaments.   This past summer, Indiana's own high school activity director vowed that there would be no return to the single class tournament:

Here are some interesting records for the high school game:  

Most State Championships
Jersey City St. Anthony's        New Jersey                                27
Cheyenne Central                   Wyoming                                    24
New Haven Hillhouse             Connecticutt                               22
Kansas City Wyandotte          Kansas                                       20
Little Rock Central                 Arkansas                                    18
Miami Senior                          Florida                                       18
Portsmouth                             New Hampshire                         17
Provo                                     Utah                                           17
Mitchell                                  South Dakota                             16
Phoenix Union                        Arizona                                      16
Macon Lanier                         Georgia                                      16
Hobbs                                    New Mexico                              16
Beckley Woodrow Wilson      West Virginia                              16

The 10 winningest high school basketball coaches of all time are:
Robert Hughes (1959-2005)               Fort Worth I.M Terrell, Fort Worth Dunbar                 1333-265
Morgan Wooten  (1957-2002)           Hyattsville DeMatha                                                     1274-192
Ralph Tasker (1941-1998)            Sulphur Springs, Ohio; Lovington, NM Hobbs                   1122-291
Bill Krueger (1958-1996)              Texas  (various)                                                                 1098-250
Joel Hawkins (1966-2008)          Baton Rouge, Southern Lab                                                 1089-272
Morgan Gilbert (1966-2012)                 Arkansas (various)                                                     1055-580
Bob Hurley  (1974-2012)                          Jersey City, St Anthony's                                       1049-109
Leslie Gaudet (1947-1970)                   Pine Prarie, LA                                                          1026-353
Walter VanHuss (1953-1989)                Hampton, TN                                                            1021-313
Ronald Bradley  (1958-2010)                    Georgia (various)                                                   1019-322 will follow with more as the season progresses. 

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