Turning The Pages

By: Paige Cline

Back when I was a regular here, I write a weekly sports column. Some of us were talking about Wyoming County basketball many years ago. One of the guys said, “That would be when the Baileysville team was known as the “Bluebirds.” 
“Nope”, I said, “not yet.” 
In 1941 the “county” tournament was the Class B tournament. It included all the white schools in the county except Mullens. Mullens High was a good bit bigger than the other schools at that time and played in Class 
The county tourney was a big deal back then and it was played in the Pineville gym since it was by far the best at that time. And it seated more. 
In 1941 the nation was not yet at war and tournament fever was building. In the week before the tournament, the Independent Herald carried pictures of all the squads and stories about the teams. 
Captions with the pictures talked about Lewis D’Antoni’s Pineville “Minutemen”, Andy Botney’s Glen Rogers “Owls”, Babe Morgan’s Oceana “Indians”, Woody Bower’s Milam “Thundering Herd”, Abe Wyatt’s Herndon “Red Jackets”, and Charlie Kelly’s Baileysville (are you ready?) “Pirates.” It would be another year or so before the Pirates would shed that monicker and adopt the more fearsome “Bluebird” nickname. 
Personally, I always liked the Bluebird handle. The rather benign nickname belied the ferocity of the players who wore the blue. 
Later, of course, Bluebirds would give way to Rough Riders. The reference was, of course, to the men of Teddy Roosevelt. and it was in keeping with the tradition of naming teams for American fighting men like Rebels and Minutemen.
Somewhere along the line, Rough Riders became just Riders. The image of Teddy Roosevelt went the way of Pirates and Bluebirds and a cowboy emerged.
I have never understood that one. Nor did Bobby DeWese.
By the way, the 1941 tournament was to be refereed by the flambouyant Paul Vennari. Most games back then used only one official.
Admission to the tournament was fifty cents per session.
Also, a move was made that year to change the classification numbers from 250 in the top three grades to 350. that would allow Mullens to compete in the county tournament with the other teams.
After a very ordinary showing against Wyoming East, Chris Blankenship has been stepping up his game a notch. In the games since the loss to East, the Westside star has been terrorizing defenses. He is our Player-of-the-Week.
A woman said to her husband,” Our son said he caddied for you today.” 
“That’s funny, I knew I had seen that darn kid before.”
1985: Mullens beat Oceana 66-64 in the Mullens gym. The Rebels were led by Bo Justice, Jeff Phillips and Chris Caldwell. For Oceana the stars were Todd Lusk, Kevin Stewart and Matt Lugar. 
1993: Pineville barely broke a sweat in beating Hinton 74-40. The Minutemen were led by Sonny Gunter who had 14 points, and some rim-rattling slam dunks. Brian Mitchell and Toby Ellison also played well for the Minutemen.