High School Sports

Stevens: Remembering high school coaching greats

Garner coach Eddie Gray can't seem to believe the referee's call on this play back in November against Cleveland High. The Trojans of Garner High School defeated the Rams of Cleveland High School 109-93.
Garner coach Eddie Gray can't seem to believe the referee's call on this play back in November against Cleveland High. The Trojans of Garner High School defeated the Rams of Cleveland High School 109-93. newsobserver.com

Garner High’s Eddie Gray notched his 440th career boys’ basketball victory with a 86-61 win over Southeast Raleigh on Tuesday night.

Gray, a 1970 graduate of Garner, is the dean of area boys’ basketball coaches.

His milestone evoked pleasant memories of some other former outstanding high school basketball coaches.

The area leader in boys’ basketball coaching wins, I think, is former Youngsville and Wake Forest High coach Larry Lindsey.

Lindsey leads the state with eight N.C. High School Athletic Association titles during a 38-year career. He built a 609-156 record.

Lindsey’s career amplifies the appreciation for former Wilson Fike coach Harvey Reid, the NCHSAA leader in boys’ basketball coaching wins.

Reid had an 818-208 career record in 42 seasons. His teams won seven state titles and 20 conference championships.

His teams warmed up to “Sweet Georgia Brown,” a tune linked to the basketball precision of the Harlem Globetrotters. The elaborate drill was designed to be intimidating. It was.

I remember coach Reid, with a towel draped over his shoulder, stooping to talk to a player.

I remember his infectious laugh.

I miss him.

He died on the sidelines, coaching his team during the 1991 playoffs.

Friends told him he should quit coaching, but he countered with why should he quit doing what he wanted to do in order to do something he didn’t want to do.

Despite Reid’s success, he isn’t the state’s all-time leader in boys’ basketball coaching wins. Freddy Johnson of the N.C. Independent School Athletic Association’s Greensboro Day notched his 900th career win earlier this season. His record is 922-271, including a 56-48 victory over High Point Wesleyan, which was ranked No. 8 in USA Today, on Tuesday night.

Johnson, 59, has coached 38 years, averaging more than 24 wins a season. He shows no signs of slowing down.

But any reminiscing about North Carolina coaching greats is remiss without mentioning Greensboro’s Bob Jamieson and Wilmington’s Leon Brogden, who were coaches, and the incredible Russell Blunt, the Durham Hillside track coach whose teams were winning state titles when he was in his 80s.

If somebody wanted to build a monument to North Carolina high school coaches, my picks would be Jamieson, Brogden, Blunt and Reid.

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