The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest Sports

February 20, 2014

Jim Ritchie was WVU basketball standout in Jerry West era

MORGANTOWN — Jim Ritchie, a resident of nearby Pt. Marion, Pa., was an outstanding basketball player at West Virginia University on the highly successful teams in 1958-59, 59-60, and 60-61.

The 6-foot-4 forward helped the Mountaineers to records of 29-5, 26-5 and 23-4. The Philadelphia native also played one year on a freshman team and was redshirted as a sophomore.

The 1958-59 team lost a heartbreaking 71-70 game to California in the finals of the 1959 NCAA Tournament at Louisville, Ky. That’s still the closest WVU has come to winning the national championship.

“It’s a game I’ll never forget,” Ritchie readily admitted during an interview on Wednesday. “It was a really great game.”

He also recalled a memorable game against New York University 90-69 in a runaway on Feb. 9, 1960. Ritchie had a career night with 19 points and 14 rebounds.

But NYU got even with the Mountaineers, knocking them out of the 1960 NCAA Tournament quarterfinals by 82-81 in overtime.

Coach Fred Schaus had guided West Virginia to a record six consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Nearly all of his teams were extremely talented and well-coached.

In his senior season, Ritchie was coached by George King, who had been an assistant to Schaus. Ritchie was named a team captain in 1980-81.

While the two came in the same year and played on the freshman team, Ritchie played only two seasons of varsity competition with all-time great and eventual Hall of Fame superstar Jerry West.

“I certainly enjoyed my years at WVU,” said Ritchie, who earned honors as a standout player at Upper Darby High School in the Philadelphia area.

Asked how it was playing basketball for Schaus, Ritchie replied:

“He was a really terrific coach. He knew the game and he did an excellent job of translating his knowledge of the game to us. He actually had us play better than most teams because he had exceptional talent.”

He added that Schaus, a WVU All-America star himself in the late 1940s here, also was very personable in directing the WVU program.

Schaus’ teams dominated basketball in the Southern Conference. So much so, WVU set an NCAA record of 44 consecutive regular-season league wins.

Ritchie shared in part of that streak which started in 1956 and ended in 1960. He also had a hand in winning Southern Conference titles and the 1960 Sugar Bowl basketball tourney championship.

He graduated in June 1961 with a degree in physiology and economics. Ritchie then decided to remain in the Morgantown area and spent 33 years in an administrative position with the Mon General Hospital. He retired two years ago.

Jim and his wife Beverly have been married for about 33 years. They still reside in Pt. Marion, where he served five years as that town’s mayor.

The Ritchie’s have two grown children. Jim Jr. is an attorney in Spartanburg, S.C., and daughter Pamela Daymes, who works for the Dan Marino Foundation in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

For his three-year WVU career, Ritchie played in 92 games (65 starts). He made 208 of 656 shots from the field (43.9 percent) and 216 of 334 free throws (64.7 percent). His rebounding total was 560 (6.1 average per game), and he scored a total of 792 points.

He had 92 assists. He also had his career-high average of 11.6 points for 27 games as a senior.  


Text Only
Latest Sports
  • 041814 Sisler Diamond Classic continues today

    Fayetteville pitcher Kaitlyn Sisler pitched five innings of shutout softball as the Pirates beat Oak Hill 10-0 Wednesday in the Diamond Classic in Fayetteville.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • D’Antoni’s Lakers future still unclear

    With the Los Angeles Lakers season officially over — the Lakers beat the Spurs 113-100 Wednesday but finished 27-55 overall, the most losses in the club’s history and the franchise’s worst winning percentage since the Minneapolis Lakers in 1957-58 — Marshall fans will be keeping a close eye on what’s going on in Tinsel Town over the coming days.

    April 17, 2014

  • Turnbull’s tenure dominates WVU wrestling history

    Did Oliver Luck really do a thorough job in deeply evaluating Craig Turnbull’s 36-year career as wrestling coach before firing him?

    April 17, 2014

  • WVU’s top football prospects working out for NFL teams

    As we draw ever closer to the NFL Draft, the prospect workouts for teams are picking up steam for former Mountaineers. Both running back Charles Sims and defensive end Will Clarke have a busy road ahead.

    April 17, 2014

  • 041814 james monroe Crusaders make history in loss to James Monroe

    The first season for Greater Beckley Christian’s baseball team has been met with growing pains — to say the least.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041714 millard Kickoff time set for WVU-Alabama

    West Virginia football fans can now start counting down to the exact minute, instead of just the day.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Questions raised about Turnbull’s firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.

    April 17, 2014

  • Gettin’ ready for gobbler season: Step 4 — the setup

    This just in — in a recent study on turkey hunting and turkey hunters it was found that 98.7 percent of the time when hunters were unsuccessful when calling in a gobbler, the hunter made some mistake during the last 50 yards of the bird’s approach.

    April 17, 2014

  • 041714 wright Former Red Devil star realizing dream of playing D-I basketball

    When former Oak Hill High School standout Kalif Wright was a kid, he would play EA Sports’ NCAA March Madness video games and dream of one day getting a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • McClung moving from mound to dugout

    Seth McClung was getting his daughters Madison and Fallon inside and ready for their baths when his phone rang. He’s said before that he enjoys the role of “daddy day care.”

    April 15, 2014

NCAA Hoops
AP Video