State tournament is like reunion for old gym rats

Some hither some yon... The UIL state boys basketball tournament is always a homecoming of sorts and one big gym rat reunion.

While strolling through the corridors of the Frank Erwin Center on the final day of the tournament, I happened across a covey of familiar faces off by themselves in the corner.

Riffing about basketball was former Lexington and Rockdale coach Rick Spencer along with the Victorick brothers Donnie and David.

Rounding out the field was former Lexington and NFL great Earl Cooper. Hadn’t seen Coop since he attended Garry White’s funeral in 2010.

Cooper coaches track at Pflugerville Hendrickson.

After a 15-year break from coaching and teaching, Spencer is back with the books and is an associate principal at Galveston Ball after moving over from Port Lavaca Calhoun.

Spencer, who led Rockdale to its only state championship in tennis in 1985, tells me that he has been to 54 straight state tournaments, ever since his father—longtime Lexington coach Bill Spencer—got him out of first grade when he was seven years old to accompany him to the tourney.

Earl Cooper is now teaching and coaching at Pflugerville Henderickson. 
Photo courtesy Rick Spencer Earl Cooper is now teaching and coaching at Pflugerville Henderickson. Photo courtesy Rick Spencer Next year will be my 40th straight, since my father first took me to Gregory Gym.

He and Cooper love to reminisce about the time when the Rockdale junior varsity knocked off a No. 1 ranked and 22-0 Lexington squad in 1974 at the Leander Tournament.

Donnie Victorick led Snook to an unprecedented five straight state titles, while little brother David captured one at Stafford in 1992.

Donnie—who seems to always gather a crowd wherever he goes—has been retired for years, while David is now at The Woodlands College Park after a long stint at Austin Travis.

Also ran into former Rockdale basketball coach James Johnson, who has been the hoops coach at Odessa High for (wow!) the past six years. How time flies.

Johnson—who was at RHS from 2003-2006—was named the District 3-5A coach of the year in 2011 after his squad reeled off nine straight wins to capture a district title.

His oldest son is in college now and the youngest Jamey is excelling in track, particularly the long jump.

The 5-foot-9 junior also plays basketball for his dad.

The Bronchos struggled with a 10-20 mark this past season with only two lettermen back and in the same district with another former Rockdale coach, Jamie Boswell, who led San Angelo to its first district title in 30 years.

Boswell’s bunch fell to El Paso Hanks 70-68 in the 5A regional quarterfinals.

The 5ive

Here are the five best players that never played in the NCAA Tournament:

1. Pete Maravich, LSU.

2. Dominique Wilkins, Georgia.

3. Robert Parish, Centenary

4. George Gervin, Eastern Michigan.

5. John Stockton, Gonzaga.

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2012-03-22 digital edition

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