In 1995 April Coleman of the Pocola High School Indians, took the last shot ever in 6 on 6 girls high school basketball in the U.S.; the game was played at the State Fair Arena, Oklahoma City, OK. in a class 2A title game.
Two years previous to the end of the U.S. and Oklahomas 6 on 6 game; Iowa girls basketball went to the 5 on 5 game played today. That legacy of the long Iowa girls history in the game can be read in a book by Max McElwain, The Only Dance in Iowa.
Was there any dragons to slay during the transition from 6 player to 5 player girls basketball in Falcon country?
Coach Stan Rupe was in the middle of that transition in 1993 and had these interesting things to say, “We needed to get it going (5 on 5), 6 on 6 was a great game, but had run its course; to compete with and in the future of Iowa girls basketball, we had to make the change and go with it.”
Was the Wayne sports community a little apprehensive in that change?
Rupe: “It was no surprise to anyone that followed sports; we would eventually have to make the move, Charles Frizzell was the superintendent at that time and we were a little concerned about keeping our numbers up for basketball. We were worried that there might be a falling off of kids going out. He said, “It’s coming, let’s do it,” and it all worked out pretty good for us, and our numbers remained steady. Our transition overall went smooth, even our girls that had a year or two of 6 player ball, were ready to make the change, we had very few glitches. Our 5 on 5 girls were usually ranked in the state from 1997 to 2000 and we made a couple of trips to Texas to play in a Thanksgiving Holiday Tournament; they also made a couple of trips to Veterans Auditorium and the state tournament. The Texas games were awesome, the girls played up against some of the best teams in Texas. They said it was really the unofficial Texas state tournament and invited some pretty good teams to participate, we were the only team from Iowa invited twice. We got it handed to us a couple of times, but that experience was a lifetime memory for those girls and families.”
The more challenging the competition the better a sports program gets?
Rupe: “Absolutely, that old saying applies here. If I knew then what I know now: I know how that long story goes. When I went to the bigger schools to coach: you were expected to produce some results and anything less than good was usually—no, it was always¬–unacceptable. The tougher the competition the more the athletes are challenged to perform and they love it, no doubt about that. But what I learned from that was: you had to become a better coach too, it was a total team package from the top down and that includes everybody. I was very lucky to have great administrative support, from that very top, I could count on everyone in the system, and it was a team effort to say the least. That piece of luck and having some good team kids is a major factor to any successful sports program, especially in the high schools.”
What were some things you learned about coaching at the larger school sports competitions?
Rupe: “The eye opener for me was you have to be ready to play your next team up, that takes paying attention to scout reports. All staff, managers and assistance comes into big play in this, and you rely a great deal on their input, it is critical; if you plan to be in the game. Another big adjustment for me was clock management—you have to be good at it—no if ands or buts about that. Especially with all of the motion offenses in the game today. I had to change my mind set from—the best offense is a good defense—to, the best defense is a better offense. Fast breaks and transition plays have to be planned with the clock in today’s game.”
What about the five classes in basketball?
Rupe: “I don’t really have a good answer for that because I don’t have an idea on what’s going on there. I mean a 5A school gets into the state tournament and only has to play two games in post season. It really gets watered down for the other classes and the way they seed the playoffs.
Seymour and Central Decatur end up in the same regional bracket this year. I think (Seymour) should have had a better route to get there (Wells Fargo Arena), I think they would have made it, that is where they should have played each other. I can’t figure it out.”
I will ask Coach Rupe to comment on football, 8 man and 11, the next chance I can catch him on the corner.