Former Enloe High boys’ basketball Preston T. McClain believed there was only one way to play high school basketball.
Teams should use a pressing defense from the opening tap and not relent until the win was secured or the clock had expired.
In his mind, most of the times his teams were outscored – it was simply a matter of running out of time, not being beaten.
McClain, who died Tuesday night at 75, would point to a state 4A playoff game at Goldsboro as illustration of his philosophy.
His Eagles trailed an outstanding Goldsboro team by 30 points in the second half, yet came back to win.
The pressing defense, led by future South Carolina guard Gerald Peacock and future Wake Forest and NBA guard Danny Young, repeatedly stole the ball.
Often the steals led to alley-oop dunks by Anthony Rogers.
“He always remembered that game,” said McClain’s son, Preston T. McLain, III. “He told his other teams about it. You can always come back.”
McClain was a native of Statesville and came to Raleigh to attend Shaw, where he met his wife.
His first coaching job was at Parker Junior High in Rocky Mount, where he showed less than stellar timing by leaving the year before future North Carolina and NBA guard Phil Ford arrived.
McClain left Rocky Mount junior high to become the coach at Aycock Junior High, where he coached from 1970 through 1976.
At Aycock, he developed his running, pressing style. Peacock, Young and Rogers all played for him there and those teams often scored more than 100 points in games.
The same trio helped him be immediately successful at Enloe after he was named coach there in 1977. His teams won five straight conference championships.
Among his most memorable games were a seven-overtime victory over Hoke County, which was coached by Tubby Smith, during the Holiday Invitational tournament in 1978 and a state playoff win over Gastonia Ashbrook and James Worthy.
His last Enloe team in 1990, led by current N.C. Central coach Levelle Moton, won the conference title as well.