dr martens size 2 Lander celebrates 50 years of men’s basketball
“Just the team camaraderie, really,” said Pitts, who was named the Lander homecoming king in 1994. “The team was growing together; under construction, so there were a lot of new players on the team. The relationships I made back then, I still want to carry on today.”
After all, that’s what Saturday was about for Lander, as the men’s basketball program celebrated 50 years since its inception in 1968.
Don Clark was the first scholarship player for longtime Lander head coach Finis Horne, and Clark remembers the inaugural season well.
“It was exciting to play college ball. We scratched and scrambled to play in a lot of different places Northside Junior High, Greenwood High School, Ninety Six just to have a place to play,” Clark said. “But it was a lot of fun.”
Lander played its first game on Nov. 22, 1968 inside the Northside Junior High School gymnasium, a 77 72 loss to Armstrong State in which Clark scored nine points.
The loss was the first of many during the then Senators’ first season. The team finished the season 4 22, then 10 22 the next year, 14 16 the following year and then 12 16 before breaking even in 1972 73.
Clark and his former teammate, Ray Tackett, joined a group of former players, coaches and staff members spanning six decades and gathered on the court to be recognized during halftime of the Lander men’s basketball team’s game against USC Aiken.
Among the support staff were Betty Williams, who was the scorekeeper from 1975 2016; Roger “Chipper” Bagwell, Lander’s head coach from 1997 2004; Rauch Wise, the voice of Lander basketball from 1985 2015; Mike Leedy, a former manager and clock operator; and Bob Stoner, who was Lander’s sports information director from 1988 2016.
Players from the 1970s who were recognized were Carroll Wells, Kevin Prater, James Hill, Thomas Graham, Joe Pitt, Alonzo Harrison, Otis Daniels, Ken Makins and Tony Foster. From the 1980s were Donnie Pearson, Steve Lee, Terry Bryan, Clayton Dorn, Tim Faulhaber, Bradley Leaks and Chandler Darling. From the 1990s were Pitts, Hal McManus, Joel Hedge and Kacey Martin. Greene, Brian Leedy and Adrian Penland. From the 2010s were Scott Elder and Carlos Trotty.
“It’s very good to see them, because we don’t cross paths very much, unfortunately,” Clark said. “It’s absolutely good to see them a lot of good memories through the years.”
Box score from first Lander basketball game Nov. 22, 1968:
Stell 28, Parker 14, Stephens 12, Burke 11, Harper 9, Eswine 3.
Hunt 19, Sledge 19, Tackett 16, Dix 6, Clark 9, Williams 2, Blanton 1.
Halftime score: Armstrong 38, Lander 28
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