The ageless wonder
The trip to Hill City was uneventful. Before leaving for good, I got my hair cut in Russell and made a few stops in Hays. I got to the hotel in Norton just after 4, unloaded my gear, and then headed back south on US 283 to the school and tonight’s basketball games vs. Smith Center.
Hill City’s boys coach, Keith Riley, is in his 46th season as the leader of the Ringnecks. That is not a typo. I could go on and on and on and on about the things which have occurred since he took the job, but to name a few: Kent State riots, Munich Olympic Massacre, Watergate, kidnapping of Patty Hearst, America’s Bicentennial, Iranian Hostage Crisis, Space Shuttle Challenger Explosion, Operation Desert Storm, Oklahoma City Bombing, September 11 attacks, second Persian Gulf war, Hurricane Katrina, and eight different Presidents of the United States.
How long ago did Riley’s tenure begin? It was so long ago many schools in the Deep South still were not fully desegregated. KSHSAA Executive Director Gary Musselman described playing against Riley’s Hill City teams when he was a student at Ness City.
By my count, my high school alma mater, New Orleans Brother Martin, has had 10 coaches since its first season, which also happened to be Riley’s first at Hill City. The Crusaders won as many state championships in their first five years as Riley has won in his career. Brother Martin added titles in 2004 and 2005.
Tonight, Riley’s first team, which won the 1970 Kansas State High School Activities Association Class 2A state championship, will be honored at halftime of the boys game. Riley also coached the Ringnecks to titles in 1978 and 1998.
Riley shows no signs of slowing down even as he hits 70. He’s in excellent health and you would never be able to guess his age by looking at him. I hope I can look that good at 70. If I make it to 70, that is.
Hill City has generally dominated Smith Center in the boys series since the Redmen joined the MId-Continent League in 1977. The Ringnecks haven’t lost to the Redmen since 2008.
The girls game should provide more competition. The teams are evenly matched. If Hill City hits its 3-pointers, Smith Center could be in trouble.
It’s back to Norton after the games. The tournament in Phillipsburg starts at 9:30 tomorrow. This time, I’m going 30 miles to the east on US 36 instead of to the west.