EAGLE basketball brief retro…Ep season #100

Long-time East Prairie sports observers don’t talk a lot about the Eagles basketball prowess…

Here’s why. In a nutshell…This is the 100-th season of Ep basketball; the Eagles began play in 1911-12 season. We have enjoyed 19 winning seasons.

Since legendary coach Bud Hendrix left for the greener shores of North Carolina in 1989, where he continued his winning ways, East Prairie has registered 2 winning seasons.

18-10 under Matt Schonhoff in the 2006-7 season and 18-10 in the 2004-5 seasons. That last winning year was the 19th in school history.

The first was in the Eagles’ second season in 1912-13 where under R.A. Doyle the team went 3-1. Clem Walker’s 7-1 team in 1916-17 was the second. Then, again in the 1920-21 (3-2), 1923-24 (5-4), 1923-24 (5-4) and 1924-25 (4-3), the schools first back to back winning seasons.

Seven coaches later, the Eagles would notch another winning season under Hugh May in the 1940-41 (14-4); the first to reach double digit victories. Jack Russell led the Eagles to another pair of back to back winning season in 1946-47 (8-7) and 1947-48 (13-6).

The final of back to back winning seasons – until Hendrix – came on the 10th winning record in the history of the school with Ray Melton’s 1952-53 (20-4) and 1953-54 (13-7) Eagles. That set of athletes also halted the losing streak in football to county rival Charleston.

Don Elliott’s 1958-59 team (8-7) would be the schools 11th and final winning season until the wildly successful – in Ep measure – Bud Hendrix era. There would be 12 coaches until the Hendrix returned to his alma mater in the 1980-81 season notching the school’s first winning season (13-12) since the 1958-59 season.

What Hendrix did in his decade (9 years) as coach is unparalleled. Frankly, no discussion of rivaled span of Eagles basketball exists. There were highlights from that run hopefully some of the old players will comment about on this story. The Bloomfield Christmas Tournament comes to mind; and a Scott Mississippi Conference tournament.

Ep experienced only two losing seasons under Coach Hendrix;  one was his second year at the helm in 1981-82 ( 4-16) and then not again until his next to last season (9-13) in 1987-88. Hendrix was .500 (12-12) in his final season at East Prairie.

In between, the Eagles rolled up a unprecedented and never seriously threatened record winning streak of 5-years in a row highlighted by the 23-6 team of 1985-86. The Eagles were 14–10 in 1982-83; 15-12 in 1983-84, 13-9 in 1984-85; 23-6 and then 14-10 in the final winning season of 1986-87.

It would take five more coaches to get the Eagles back into the winning column under current Portageville coach Jason Irby in 2004-2005. A stretch of nearly a quarter century (24 seasons) without a winning mark.

So, with those numbers fresh in the mind during this Centennial Season, come out and support the Eagles. It’s not about the wins and losses, but how you play the game some times.

Coach Casey Knight’s third edition of Eagles get underway at the Bernie Invitational playing top seed Risco to open the season Nov. 29 at 6 p.m.

I will say this for Coach Knight, these kids hustle and play with good sportsmanship that make EPHS proud. And, for that, Eagle alums and administration are truly thankful. What the Eagles may lack in pure hoops talent, the effort put forth on the floor can not be questioned under Knight’s helm.

And while there aren’t any 7-footers walking through the door anytime soon at Ep, the cupboard is getting stocked with more talent and an upcycle in on the horizon. This year, the Eagles will have to scrape out the W’s…but, they will be worth the price of admission and deserve support from Eagle Nation.

That’s why the play the games.

*Source material courtesy of SEMOSPORTSWEB.com

  1. #1 by Dennis Cox on st30. 020110000002809 - 10:28 PM

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane KP. The highlights that come to my mind are from the 85-86 season when we finished 2nd to Twin Rivers at Bloomfield, but we beat Malden in the semis to make it to that game. We also beat SCC back to back to win the conference tournament and regular season.

    • #2 by kpchronicle on nd30. 020110000004000 - 1:40 AM

      That’s kind of what I thought D; great season….likely best in school history….

  2. #3 by Anonymous on nd30. 020110000002128 - 12:21 AM

    Good write-up KP, thanks for sharing

  3. #5 by Anonymous on nd30. 020110000003150 - 2:31 AM

    Good article, however, you give Hendrix too much credit. He had a good nucleus of players in the 1980’s who played well in spite of Hendrix. East Prairie has the “misfourtune” of playing in a conference that features Scott Central and has to play in regionals that features a powerhouse like Charleston.

    Hope the basketball teams start to have some of the success that the football teams have enjoyed. However, it will always be a challenge given the caliber of competition in the region.

    • #6 by kpchronicle on rd30. 020110000000218 - 12:02 AM

      Thanks for the comments; however, I take issue with giving Hendrix too much credit; who else would deserve the credit for the only winning stretch in Eagles hoops history that covered just not one nuclues but a couple sets of players that went thru the program….; and u r right about the Conference matchup probs and the District dilemma…Ep has a hard row to hoe to make it thru either….Kp

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