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Mark Martin's Notepad

Head Coaches Make Tournament Special
March 14, 2013

Mark Martin There are a lot of great stories each year when the West Virginia Boys State High School Basketball Tournament rolls around.

The head coaches certainly are part of the mix.

While coaches will be the first to tell you that it is all about the young men who take the floor, make no mistake most of the teams wouldn’t be in Charleston without the great dedication that comes from the head coaches and their staffs.

Here is a look at the leaders for the 24 programs making up the 100th anniversary of the State Tournament.

Class AAA

Dave Rogers, Martinsburg – Rogers has been a fixture at the State Tournament for many, many years. He’s coached at Martinsburg for 36 years. The school’s been to the event 27 times. Rogers has two titles to his credit, leading the Bulldogs to the crown in 1994 and 2009. The 1994 championship came against a DuPont team that featured future NBA player Jason Williams and NFL players Randy Moss and Bobbie Howard. Three of Rogers’ teams have been runners-up. One of his former players is Don Bullett of Washington High, who is the tournament.

Ron Kidd, Beckley – A native of the southern West Virginia town, Kidd has a strong love for Flying Eagle basketball. The Kidd family has deep roots with the Maroon and White. Beckley has 16 state championships, two under Kidd’s leadership.

Vic Herbert, South Charleston – He’s not only enjoyed a title as a player but also as a head coach. Herbert was a standout for Willie Akers at Logan and helped lead the Wildcats to the title in 1977 before going on to play at WVU. Herbert was a part of the great shootout with Clarksburg Washington-Irving’s Jeff Schneider in the ’77 title game won by Logan, 111-87. He would later guide his alma mater to the AAA crown as the head coach in 1991.

Don Bullett, Washington – It is one of the great sports names not only in West Virginia’s beautiful Eastern Panhandle, but the entire state. Don Bullett was a Martinsburg High great and went on to a fine career in college at Glenville State. After coaching girls basketball for years at Martinsburg, Bullett is helping make history by bringing the Jefferson County-based school to the State Tournament for the first time.

Mike Fallon, Parkersburg South – Was an outstanding player at both Lewis County High and Glenville. After working with the girls program for several years at Wirt County he is now trying to keep Parkersburg South’s rich baskebtall tradition going.South won a championship in 2003.

Tom Yester, Morgantown – By far one of the state’s classiest coaches. Yester has that professor-look to him as he walks the sidelines for the Mohigans. He’s a proud graduate of old Terra Alta High (now a part of Preston). He has seven State Tournament wins at MHS, where he’s coached for 31 years. He’s also coached at old Rowlesburg High (now a part of Preston) and University.

Lance Sutherland, Hurricane – A 1984 graduate of Hurricane High School, Sutherland helped make history by leading his alma mater to the tournament for the first time. Sutherland is the son of the late Tom Sutherland, who led two teams to Kansas City and the NAIA National Tournament while leading the great program at WVU Tech. Tom Sutherland also led Valley High to the Class A championship game in 1999.

Ron Hess, Huntington – A graduate of old Huntington High, Hess understands the strong history of hoops in the River City. Hess was a teammate of one of the all-time great Huntington Pony Express players in David Wade. Huntington High’s current program won three straight titles with Patrick Patterson, O.J. Mayo and company from 2005-07.


Buster Large, Bluefield – Now in his second tour of duty leading the Bluefield program. He led the Beavers to the AA title game in 2012. Large was an outstanding athlete back in the day and is one of the last starting quarterbacks in the history of Bluefield State College’s football program.

Dave Retton, Fairmont Sr. – The name Retton is synonymous with the City of Fairmont. There is Mary Lou, and oh, yes, Joe. Dave Retton is the son of the legendary Fairmont State basketball leader who also won a state title with old Barrickville High. Dave Retton attended North Marion and Fairmont State.

Nick Cook, Westside – A former standout at Oceana (which helped form) Westside. Cook played for Jim Hopkins’ Indians, who were runners-up in 1992 before winning it all in 1993.

Bill Bennett, Robert C. Byrd – This marks his 25th season as a coach and 11th as Byrd’s head coach. He’s been with the program for 17 years, including the 1996 state championship game run. Bennett graduated from old Washington Irving High in Clarksburg that helped form Byrd.

Jason Hatfield, Tolsia – Yet another coach getting the opportunity to bring his program to the State Tournament. He was a Rebel standout for Rich Skeen and later worked with his former coach at Sissonville. Hatfield led Tolsia’s strong program to the AA semifinals in 2012.

Gene Randolph, Bridgeport – A veteran coach in Harrison County who is calling it a career at the State Tournament. Randolph attended old Clarksburg Victory High, the Greenbrier Military School and Alderson-Broaddus College. He’s coached for 38 years and this season is his 20th as a head coach. He’s guided nine Indian teams to the State Tournament, winning it all in 2001. In his first year at BHS he led the Indians to the AA championship, losing to Oceana.

Nick Cabell, Scott – A product of the Skyhawk program, Cabell is trying to keep the tradition going at the Boone County-based school. He was on the staff in 2011 when Scott played for the Class AA state championship.

Chris Freeman, North Marion – A standout player for North Marion and Fairmont State, Freeman is hopeful of making the Huskies a state title contender. North Marion has a state title to its credit.


Garland Thompson, Tug Valley – He grew up on the West Virginia-Kentucky border and has a deep love for the game. One of the nicest guys around, Thompson’s coaching background includes time in the Bluegrass State.

Dave Tallman, Magnolia – He led Magnolia to the state championship crown of AA in 2000 and 2003. Tallman was a star player at Paden City High under legendary coach Bob Burton.

Bill McClanahan, Charleston Catholic – He comes from a family with a great affection for the game of basketball. McClanahan has won two titles at Catholic and has helped lead four other Irish clubs to the championship game. McClanahan is a product of Poca High School and Davis & Elkins.

Tom Gutshall, Tucker County – One of the state’s most successful and colorful coaches. Gutshall’s teams have become a fixture at the State Tournament. Gutshall has guided 18 of his Mountain Lion teams to the tournament with two playing for the title. He is a graduate of old Parsons High (which helped form Tucker County) and Fairmont State. Gutshall’s father was a successful high school coach. He’s been a head coach for 29 years at Tucker with 462 wins. He was also the head coach at old Mountaineer High (now a part of Tucker) for five.

Dan Burd, Greater Beckley Christian – An out-of-stater who is trying to build a tradition in a city known for basketball. This is his second season at the helm. One of first moves in the offseason was bringing former Beckley Flying Eagle head coach Dave Barksdale on board.

Chuck Elkins, Buffalo – A graduate of old Hamlin High (now a part of Lincoln County), Chuck Elkins has brought several Bison teams to Charleston. He had the luxury of growing up the son of a coach. His father, Charles, led Hamlin to the 1971 state championship game. His brother Bill also did so at Hamlin in 1988. Bill was the first-ever head coach at Lincoln County High.

Mel Stephens, Wheeling Central – Stephens is bringing his eighth Knight team to Charleston in what is his 10th season as head coach and 16th overall at the school. He’s won four titles and settled for the runner-up trophy one year. Stephens is a graduate of old Wheeling High (now Wheeling Park) and West Liberty.

Jarrod West, Clarksburg Notre Dame – While the WVU basketball program’s most famous player is named West…as in Jerry, a guy named Jarrod West is fondly remembered during his days in the Gold and Blue. West hit the big shot in the 1999 NCAA Tournament against Bob Huggins’ Cincinnati Bearcats to send WVU on to the Sweet 16. West seems to have found a home at Notre Dame as its head coach.


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