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.
I thought I would be ready to go early this morning, but by time I finally got myself together, it was already 10:35. But I did get showered and shaved before noon, so it’s a win. The barber shop at the corner of Main and 6th in Russell is closed for lunch anyway right now, so I’ll leave the abode on North Brooks at 1:30.
Volleyball tonight at Smith Center. The Lady Red will welcome Mid-Continent League foes Hill City and Phillipsburg for three matches beginning at 5. Smith Center plays Hill City first, then it’s the Ringnecks against Phillipsburg, and finally, the Panthers face the home team. Since Hill City has a longer distance to travel, it plays the first two matches so it can get home earlier.
The three schools have been playing each other on the first Thursday of the season for as long as i can remember. The event rotates between the three schools; last year, Smith Center won both of its matches at Hill City, with Phillipsburg ousting Hill City in the finale.
Interesting note: from 2008 through 2012, the team which wins both matches at this event has gone on to the state tournament. Phillipsburg went in Class 3A from 2008, 2009 and 2010; Smith Center in 2A in 2011; and Hill City in 2A in 2012. Phillipsburg also went to the 3A tournament in 2011. The Lady Red went to the state tournament in 2007 even though they lost both matches, and they went a year ago despite dropping the match to Phillipsburg in three sets.
The last time it was at Smith Center, in 2011, it was 108 degrees that day, and the gym was even hotter. Last year was pretty bad at Hill City. It’s supposed to be in the mid-90s today, but it looks like rain will be moving in near the end of the day, so I hope these matches get done so I can make most of my drive on dry pavement.
I’ve got a few things to do before I get out of here. Hopefully I’ll be able to find power and use the computer up there.