Register-Herald Sports Writer
It’s been quite the career for longtime youth basketball coach Ricky Dillard.
Dillard won five Raleigh County championships at the elementary level with Stanaford and Beckley elementary schools, as well as four times with Park Junior High.
Now, Dillard has added a 10th championship.
The Dillard-coached Beckley-Stratton Bulldogs won the Raleigh County Middle School championship last week, defeating Shady Spring 37-34 in the championship game.
“This year was a good group of kids,” he said. “They were very coachable. Reminded me of a group at Park I had a long time ago. They practiced hard. That’s one of the reasons we were so successful.”
A successful season it was for the Bulldogs, who finished the season 14-1. The lone loss happened during the Big Atlantic Classic when they lost to Bluefield by two points, following a 12-point comeback late in the game.
“We had a last-second play drawn up,” he said. “But we had a player get trapped in the corner. We did get that win back this season, though.”
The Bulldogs were led by Ty Walton, who scored 15 points in the championship game. Teammate Marcus Christian had 10 points, including three 3-pointers and a foul shot in the fourth quarter to help seal the deal.
Dillard hopes that his group of kids, many of whom will play basketball for Woodrow Wilson High School, will use that as motivation through their careers.
“I would love for them to go on and play in high school,” he said. “I think it’s a lot of the motivation for them.”
Not only did the varsity (14-1) win the county championship, but Beckley-Stratton’s junior varsity squad won the county’s invitational tournament and finished with a record of 10-3.
Dillard will look to those young players next season as he loses eight varsity players to the high school ranks.
“I’ve got a lot of talent on my team,” he said. “Coach (Jaron) Jones does a good job with them. He’s excellent with the kids. We’re very energetic with them in practice and try to teach them the basics. We teach them to play zone, play man so that they’re prepared wherever they decide to go.”
Teaching the basics and helping develop young talent is what keeps the longtime coach going.
“I enjoy seeing them learn,” he said. “If a kid can’t dribble and I can teach them, that’s my reward. I love giving it back. I just enjoy being around kids. When I was growing up, we had a lot of places we could go play, but we didn’t have anyone to teach us. The fundamentals are key.”
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @JDanielRollins.
Register-Herald Sports Writer
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