Leesville Road basketball coach Daryl Robinson did not want to play Broughton at N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum in 2001.
Broughton, led by junior Shavlik Randolph, had beaten Leesville Road by 76-72 earlier in the season at Broughton’s Holliday Gymnasium and Robinson thought moving to a neutral court would be giving away the advantage of playing at home.
“I was against it,” Robinson recalled. “But Richard Murphy (the Leesville Road principal) and Marshall Hamilton (the Leesville Road athletics director) told me to get over it, we were playing at Reynolds.”
Now, 11 years later, the 2001 Leesville Road seniors will play Broughton at home.
On Thursday at 6:30 p.m., many of the players from the 2001 game will play in the Richard J. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Charity basketball game at Leesville Road. Murphy, the Leesville Road principal who arranged the game at Reynolds, also had been a coach at Broughton and a principal at Sanderson. He died in 2011.
More than 12,000 fans, what is believed to be the largest crowd ever to watch two North Carolina high school basketball teams, assembled on Feb. 6, 2011 to see the game at Reynolds. Traffic was snarled so tightly around Reynolds that the only way Robinson could get the team bus to the arena was to go in the wrong direction on a one-way street.
The ticket window lines wound around the building and eventually the arena was full and more than 200 late comers were not allowed inside.
“We didn’t care how many people were there,” said Anthony Richardson, a senior who was selected to the McDonald’s All-America game that season. “We were all mad. We were playing our rivals, and we were not going to play our game at home.
“If it had been up to the players, we wouldn’t have played at Reynolds. Luckily, older and wiser people prevailed.”
Leesville Road, led by Richardson, won 80-66. The score was close for most of the game. The Pride led 64-62 with 3:30 left.
In the aftermath, Robinson, the Leesville Road coach, was stunned.
“I knew I had been a part of history,” Robinson said. “I remember going home and not being able to sleep a wink.”
Randolph, who played at Duke and in the NBA, will be joined in the charity game by former Caps teammates Will Roach (N.C. State) and Jeff Monroe (an all-America at Hampden-Sydney).
Richardson, who played at Florida State and in Hungary, Germany, Holland, Japan and in the NBA Development League, has old teammates Shawan Robinson (Clemson and later in Germany, England and Czechoslovakia) and D.J. Thompson (Appalachian State and in Europe).
The teams also will have players from other area teams, plus some current NBA players with local ties.
“I know it’s a charity game, but you know that Broughton is going to try to beat Leesville,” Richardson said. “We’ll just have to see how it goes, but I’m preparing for the game like we’re going to try to win.”
Shawan Robinson, now a fourth-grade teacher at Raleigh’s Bugg Elementary, said, “This is another chance for Leesville to beat Broughton.”
Proceeds from the game go to the Murphy scholarship fund, which is endowed through the North Carolina Community Foundation. Admission is $10 or $5 for children 5 and under.