Basketball is exciting again in Rockdale

When Dusty Loewe hired on for his second stint as Rockdale basketball coach in 2007, he immediately conjured up the sacred names of coaches past.

Duane Vincent, Gerald Adams, Dean Hollingsworth, Jerry Franklin, Ed Abernathy.

“Rockdale used to be pretty dang good in basketball,” he said at the time. “I want to be part of that.”

Loewe’s Tigers took a giant step towards returning to hoop glory by guaranteeing the program’s first winning season since 1997 with its victory over Caldwell Friday (see story this page).

It has taken Loewe five frustrating years to break through that first barrier (winning season) and he’s ready to demolish the next obstacle (playoff appearance).

“I just wanted to bring back the tradition Rockdale used to have in basketball,” Loewe said after Friday night’s landmark victory. “Rockdale basketball used to be an important thing in this community. It seemed to have lost some of that.

Loewe Loewe “You think about all the regional finals and all those years in the 70s.”

Before we get ahead of ourselves, this was just the third game of district and there is a long way to go and we don’t want to upset the basketball gods.

However, consider this: the last time Rockdale posted a winning ledger in basketball, the guys who are resurrecting the program now were in diapers.

When Rockdale ended their 25-9 season 15 years ago in the regional quarterfinals in Dean Hollingsworth’s final year, current freshman point guard Wendell Mitchell had not even been born.

But Loewe is correct. Basketball used to be important around here until its latest nearly two-decade hiatus.

Just take at look at the historical hoop data:

• From the very first Tiger playoff team in 1954 (led by Clyde Luetge and Billy Cooke) until 1997, Rockdale posted winning records in 35 of 43 seasons.

• Rockdale reached the regional finals seven times and was bi-district champions nine times.

• That included 20 district championships and at least 20 wins in 26 of those seasons and two state tournament appearances (1966, 1995).

• From 1974 through 1981, Rockdale averaged 28 wins a year with seven district championships.

• From 1974 to 1976 under Gerald Adams, Rockdale did not lose a district contest and played in the regional finals three straight years.

• The 1975 team established a school record with 33 wins and the 1976 team was ranked No.1 in the state and reeled off 31 straight victories.

• Charlie Martin and Duane Vincent combined to win eight straight district championships from 1960-67. Vincent added two more upon his return in 1977 and ‘79.

The foundation is on solid ground and let’s just say the program is under construction.

And with a wide open, sparkling new gymnasium, there’s plenty of room for a brand new banner or two.

The 5ive

Here are the five winningest basketball teams in RHS history:

1. 1975—33-7 (Regional finalists).

2. 1976—31-7 (Regional finalists).

3. 1966—30-9 (State Tournament).

4. 1981—28-9 (Regional finalist).

5. 1980—28- 6 (Bi- district champions).

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