Sixtyy years ago last week, a group of boys from here put the finishing touches on a remarkable achievement.

The Pioneers of Romney High School beat Oceana 75-63 on March 19, 1960, to claim West Virginia’s Class AA basketball championship, the first and only in Hampshire County history.

They accomplished it without a loss – not the first undefeated season in state history as legend has it, but one rarely duplicated – and with tons of flair.

“We were a lot like the Harlem Globetrotters,” recalled Donnie Davis, one of the starting guards. “They rolled out the carpet and the lights would go out and they’d throw a spotlight on us and we’d warm up to the music of ‘Sweet Georgia Brown.’”

It was the culmination of not just weeks or months of preparation, but years.

It was an experience that shaped the rest of their lives.

It was one golden moment for those young teammates, who remained friends for life.

 

THE YEARS BEFORE

‘Hard Times’ sets the pieces in place

 

Basketball Coach Clyde Green arrived in Romney “my seventh- or eighth-grade year,” remembered Bill Maphis, the mainstay of the 1960 championship team.

Green carried great credentials. He was considered the best defensive player ever for West Virginia University during his four years there from 1946-49. After graduation, he spent a few years playing with the Wheeling team of the All-American Professional Basketball Association before he turned to coaching.

Even in college, Green’s nickname was “Hard Times,” a testament to his Depression-era upbringing in Platte, outside Charleston, where he attended East Bank High, a three-sport all-state athlete, adding football and baseball to his basketball honors. WVU legend Jerry West lived across the river and three houses down.

His play at WVU reinforced his nickname because he was said to give opposing players such a hard time.

Hard Times was hardnosed.

“He had his way and he had his way of getting things across to you,” Maphis said.

At practice, another starter, Donnie Davis, recalled, “You worked hard for two hours.”

In addition, “he was a very particular about curfews, smoking, and drinking. He wouldn’t tolerate it,” Davis said, but, “he never raised his voice.”

Green had connections that proved invaluable for his charges. He was a college teammate of Fred Schaus, the first Mountaineer to score 1,000 points and the head coach of the Mountaineers during the same time Green was in Romney.

He began taking the Romney boys to Morgantown for clinics run by Schaus. He scheduled afternoon games for Romney at University High in Morgantown so the team could take in a WVU game that night.

“We got to go in the dressing room and mingle with the players,” Davis said. “We’d go to the coach’s house.”

Maphis caught Green’s eye quickly. The youngster became a starter for the RHS varsity as a freshman.

He was taller than most, reaching 6-foot-4 by his senior year. He had a good shot, breaking school and area scoring records.

“One of his great attributes was to get off the floor, not only height but also with quickness,” said Stan Shingleton, a teammate and longtime high school coach. “I’ve never seen anybody in high school get up as high and as quick and shoot that 15-footer.”

As a sophomore, Maphis was joined by classmates Donnie Davis, A.D. Hott and David Kirk in the starting lineup.

Kirk, a left-hander, played up front with Maphis. Davis recalled that Green would ride Kirk about his speed – “slow and slower.” On the plus side, though, “He could shoot the ball,” Davis said.

Davis and Hott, friends and neighbors since childhood, were the guards.

“A.D. Hott was a hard-nosed point player,” Maphis said. “He was something.”

Hott would draw the opponent’s best player to defend. Listed at 5-foot-7, Davis swears he wasn’t an inch taller than 5-2.

Davis had high praise from the high-scoring Maphis.

“Donnie Davis was a pure shooter,” he said.

With Maphis leading the way, Romney soared through the 1958-59 regular season, grabbing 20 victories and suffering only back-to-back January losses against Fort Ashby and Keyser.

Maphis tore up the Potomac Valley Conference, setting an area scoring record with a 31-points-per-game average.

However, their junior campaign ended in disappointment.

The rematch with Keyser for the sectional title at Petersburg was probably over before it began. The Cumberland newspaper called the Golden Tornado an “ill wind” that blew through the Pioneer defense, 64-48.

Ronald Z. Wilson, the RHS student who wrote a weekly sports column in the Hampshire Review, had a different take on it. The ill wind, he wrote, was a flu bug that felled the Pioneers.

Davis didn’t even suit up. Other starters, Wilson wrote, were off their game, having missed practices during the week. Only Maphis seemed unaffected, but he couldn’t carry the load by himself.

Still, the next season held promise. Senior starter Roscoe Dean was headed to Shepherd College, where he led the WVIAC in rebounding as a sophomore. But everyone else would be back.

“Because of who we had coming back, we understood what our goal was,” Shingleton said. “We never really talked about it. We just went out and did it.”

 

THE EARLY CAMPAIGN

‘We played fast-break basketball’

 

When the players returned for the 1959-60 season, they had something to prove – to Coach Clyde Green.

“He gave us each a basketball before summer,” Donnie Davis remembered. “We had to be able to keep the ball up on one finger for a minute, work it across our knuckles and pop it off an elbow.”

They also had to find a starter to replace Roscoe Dean. That proved to be 6-1 senior Stan Shingleton. He was expected to provide rebounding, but also gave a scoring boost.

“Stanley just got better as he went the senior year,” Davis recalled.

The Pioneers took to the court publicly for the first time on Dec. 1 in a scrimmage with the B team. They put on a show in front of a packed house at Romney High’s tiny gym.

The starting five poured 113 points through the nets in 32 minutes in an era long before the three-point shot was invented. Bill Maphis popped in 57 points himself, all five starters scored in double figures and the reserves were held to 25 points.

The 100 points was what the fans came to see and the players all remember.

“We really moved,” forward Dave Kirk said. “We played fast-break basketball.”

Green told the boys no more than three passes after they crossed half court. More than three meant they had probably passed up as good a shot as they would end up getting.

“We put the ball up,” Davis said.

But the key to that offense was a stifling defense.

“To average 87 points a game you don’t do that on the offensive side of the floor,” Shingleton contended. “We felt we played really great defense. We could press teams and create turnovers and make shots.”

The defense was man-to-man “all over the court,” Davis explained. “We trapped any time they turned their back on us, picked up their dribble or went to a corner.”

The small courts of the day helped that style of play.

“You could go from one end of the gym to the other fairly quick,” Shingleton noted.

Three nights after the scrimmage, the Pioneers opened the season against Ridgeley’s Black Hawks.

Romney held a 13-0 lead after 5 minutes. When it was over, Maphis had scored 33 points and, just as importantly, pulled down 35 rebounds. He signed autographs for the Black Hawks fans afterward.

“The Pioneers got stronger as the game progressed,” recounted Ronald Z. Wilson in the next week’s Hampshire Review. Wilson, a junior at RHS, had written a weekly column on the Pioneers for a couple of years. He also served as the team’s manager in 1959-60.

After dispensing with the Deaf School, the Pioneers avenged one of the previous year’s two losses, handling Fort Ashby 77-60 in a foul-plagued game.

Next came an opponent that teams don’t get to count today – the alumni. The “once weres,” as Wilson dubbed them, hung close for a half.

The final game before Christmas saw RHS knocking off undefeated Paw Paw 82-58 on the Pirates’ home court.

The ease of the victories led Wilson to poke Green a little in print.

“It is this writer’s opinion that Coach Green should exhibit his up-and-coming junior grade school team more often,” he wrote in the Dec. 23 Review.

The obvious superiority of the Pioneers presented a challenge for Green that coaches of such teams always face.

On one hand, the starters have earned a right to play most of the game. In addition, they need the experience and stamina to be ready for the tough games at tournament time.

“We’d play the first and second quarter and half of the third,” Davis recalled, “then he’d pull us out and put five more in.”

But as good as the Pioneers were, games could easily turn into a rout before then.

“If we were playing a weak team, we’d play the clock,” Davis acknowledged. “He wanted you to score 25 a quarter or you were on the bench.”

Maphis said Green didn’t intentionally run up the score.

Some of the reserves, wanting more playing time, have different memories.

“There wasn’t a lot of playing time for the reserves even when the games got out of hand,” said John Blue. Blue, a 6-foot junior forward, was one of the first players off the bench, along with 6-1 senior Harwell Hott and 5-10 junior guard Gary Short.

“Clyde had a rule that the team had to score 80 points before he would put the first sub in,” Blue remembered.

Early January’s schedule looked rough. Keyser and its star, Gary Keedy, were coming to town, followed by four road games that each posed a different challenge. The Pioneers picked them off one by one.

Keedy was limited to 22 and the five starters scored all of Romney’s points in a 78-57 outcome that included 24 Pioneer points from the free throw line. Maphis had more rebounds (32) than points (29) again. Shingleton “played his best game of the season thus far,” Wilson wrote.

The first of the four away games was across the mountains at University High.

“One of the unusual things about that season was the winters in ’59 and ’60,” forward Dave Kirk said. “We had some horrendous trips.”

He remembered one of the journeys over U.S. 50.

“It was so cold, we were sitting in the middle of the bus to keep warm,” Kirk said. “The windows were frosted over.” On snow-covered Backbone Mountain near Red House, Md., the bus driver had to stop and put chains on.

“People wouldn’t even think of doing that today,” he said.

After the 20-point victory in Morgantown, and watching a WVU game there, the Pioneers headed to Petersburg and its big gym, the site of their 1959 season-ending sectional loss to Keyser.

The Vikings were no match, however, and neither was Moorefield, which desperately wanted to protect its best-ever record in the PVC. The 1950-51 Yellow Jackets finished 20-1. At this point, Romney was 9-0.

The day after the Moorefield victory, Wilson wrote in the Review:

 “Some of the fans who go to the Romney games to see a basketball demon called ‘Maphis’ have been going home asking long and loud, ‘What’s so spectacular about him?’ They apparently expect to see Bill take on the opposing five single-handed and outscore them five to one. Such is not the case. The Pioneers do have five players. The fact remains that Maphis is considered by most as the best high school cager in West Virginia.”

The Pioneers were about to get the chance to prove Wilson right. Next up was their toughest test so far.

They were headed back over Route 50, this time to Clarksburg to face powerful Notre Dame.

And they were going to make the trip without Maphis.

 

UNEXPECTED SPOTLIGHT

‘We had something to prove’

 

This game was supposed to be Martinsburg, but the Class AAA Bulldogs had dropped Romney from the schedule just before the season with their coach complaining about the officiating in Romney.

Junior Ronald Z. Wilson had another explanation in his Hampshire Review column.

“That sounded better than a statement to the effect that the mighty Bulldogs were tired of being consistently beaten by a AA school,” he wrote.

Instead, Jan. 15, 1960, found Romney High’s unbeaten basketball team rolling into the big city of Clarksburg for a showdown with Notre Dame, whose only loss had been to the state’s No. 3 team, Montgomery.

Without leading scorer and rebounder Bill Maphis, though, most observers thought the Pioneers were limping.

The 6-foot-4 senior was felled by a blood infection from a blister on his foot.

“I was in the hospital and tried to listen to it on the radio,” Maphis said, hoping to keep the 10-game winning streak alive.

“I don’t remember that any of us thought we’d go undefeated,” he said. “We knew we had a pretty good team because all of us had been playing together.”

In fact, he said, “We had a better ball club than we really thought.” Then he added emphatically, “It wasn’t a one-man team.”

That night the Pioneers were out to make his point.

“We had something to prove,” said forward Stan Shingleton. “Our support role to Bill wasn’t the only thing that was winning ballgames. We were a pretty good basketball team without Bill and we wanted to tell the rest of West Virginia that.

“I don’t think losing ever crossed our mind.”

Senior Harwell Hott stepped in as the starting center, sharing post duties with junior John Blue.

But it was forward David Kirk and guard A.D. Hott who stepped up to lead the Pioneers to a hard-fought 69-65 victory.

“A.D. played a pretty good game,” said fellow guard Donnie Davis. The little ball hawk stole several passes to start fast breaks, reported Ronald Z. Wilson in the Review, calling him “everybody’s hero.” He finished with a game-high 22 points.

Kirk “turned in a commendable performance,” Wilson wrote, as the lefthander and Blue worked the boards hard

Kirk scored 14, as did Shingleton. Davis had 13 from outside.

The players were ecstatic.

“That really helped us have a lot more confidence,” Dave Kirk said, “especially an away game in a big city.”

The game kept the big-city fans on the edge of their seats.

Notre Dame grabbed an early six-point lead, but Romney battled back to a 35-35 tie at halftime. A.D. Hott and Blue hit baskets to put the Pioneers ahead for good at the start of the second half.

“This writer knows of two Clarksburgers who were scheduled to exit ‘as soon as Notre Dame gets 10 or 15 points ahead,’ that were there for the duration,” Wilson crowed in print the next week.

But the closeness of the contest aside, the game was a disappointment for the crowd, which included WVU Coach Fred Schaus. The crowd of nearly 1,500 had come to see Maphis.

There was only one thing to do. When the team returned to Romney, Coach Clyde Green made some phone calls.

The second Wardensville game was off the schedule. In its place was a season-ending return trip to Clarksburg to face Roosevelt-Wilson.

 

THE HOME STRETCH

‘The crowd all stood and cheered’

 

“It was agreed by the team to keep Bill on the squad for the remainder of the season and not subject Pioneer backers to any more four-point margins,” Ronald Z. Wilson wrote of Maphis’s return to the lineup after his hospital stay.

The Pioneers did their best to avoid any more close games, no matter what the opposition threw at them.

Now midway through the season, they were beginning to run up against many teams for the second time.

Maphis’s first night back was a rematch with Fort Ashby. The big center had another 30-30 game, 31 points and 32 rebounds.

Keyser’s Keedy won the personal scoring battle with Maphis during that rematch, putting in 30 points to Maphis’s 26, but Maphis pulled down 30 rebounds. More impressively, he reached the 2,000-point mark for his high school career during the third quarter.

Paw Paw tried to control the tempo the second time the Pirates faced Romney, holding the Pioneers to a season-low 61 points.

“A game of toss between A.D. Hott and Don Davis” baffled the Pirates and drew Paw Paw out of its game plan.

The boys worked hard at their ball-handling. In addition to Coach Clyde Green’s summertime expectations, the Pioneers practiced some techniques that most teams only dreamed about – behind-the-back passes, dribbling between the legs, an early version of the Alley Oop.

“He was way ahead of the game,” Davis said of Green. “He turned us loose.”

In the game at Moorefield, Maphis missed a two-handed dunk off a steal.

“The ball hit and popped out,” Davis recalled. “The place was packed and they booed him and booed him.”

The next time Maphis got the ball, he started dribbling through Moorefield’s pressure defense. He motioned for his teammates to head down the floor and the Moorefield boys to come after him.

Maphis dribbled around one player. A second player teamed up on him and couldn’t get the ball.

A third player joined in and Maphis went down on one knee dribbling.

“They still couldn’t get the ball,” Davis said. “The crowd all stood and cheered.”

The scores started piling higher – 91 points against Ridgeley and then the magic 100 on cross-county rival Capon Bridge.

The triple-digit mark was hit with three new players on the court. Sophomores Terry Mezzatesta, Kenny Ayers, Monte Mathias and Hubert High had all been freshly called up from the junior varsity.

The lack of playing time had led some players to quit, but the quartet proved willing replacements.

“Everybody jumped at the chance,” recalled High, a 6-foot forward. “This was a great team and we were lucky to be with them.”

Everybody around was loving the Romney Pioneers. They drew full houses on the road and kept the home gym jammed.

 “There is little doubt that the Romney gym would easily seat three or four times the number of fans at home games if the space was available,” Wilson wrote on Jan. 27, adding this zinger: “If you are one of the many who would like to see the Pioneers in action but can’t because of the seating problem, you might ask yourself if you voted for the last Bond issue.”

Davis recalled fans from Paw Paw and Moorefield making the trip to Romney even if their own school was playing elsewhere, showing up a few hours early because “they’d lock the door because the place was packed,” Davis was told.

The show began as soon as the players took the floor to loosen up.

“The boys come onto the floor in their warmup outfits and began a demonstration of their ball handling skills,” Wilson explained in the Review.

Green had the starting five practice the drill.

“Pass the ball, spin it on your finger, take it on your knuckle, bounce it off your elbow, toss it to the other guy,” Davis recalled the routine.

The high point came as the players formed a line, each tapping the ball against the backboard until Maphis came along last and attempted a dunk.

The crowds ate it up.

Capon Bridge was the first time the Pioneers cracked the century mark, but not the last.

Green’s boys hung 108 on Petersburg on Feb. 6 and 10 days later blistered the Deaf School 118-69 with Maphis hitting a season-high 41.

Capon Bridge avoided another 100-point loss by freezing the ball in the waning minutes of a 93-59 loss on Feb. 19, but Wardensville yielded up 115 three nights later.

The Pioneers made their triumphant return to Clarksburg on Feb. 24, closing out the season. Wilson called it “publicity effort number two.”

They brought Romney apples as gifts. They brought Maphis, who showed his stuff, scoring 26. They drew a packed house at the Roosevelt-Wilson gym and they claimed an 87-64 victory.

The season statistics were staggering.

They averaged 86.2 points a game and held their opponents to 54.8 — an average winning margin of more than 30 points a game.

Maphis had scored 31.3 points a game. In fact, the surviving starters are quick to point out, every starter averaged in double figures for the season.

They had won 21 games against no defeats, the best record ever in the area. They won the PVC championship.

Now they needed to add to this impressive record the sectional, regional and state championships.

 

PLAYOFF TIME

Escape from Clendenin

 

As marvelous as the undefeated regular season was, the playoffs were a whole new world for Clyde Green’s Romney Pioneers in March 1960.

The challenge began with gym size.

“We played in a band box,” Forward Dave Kirk said. “It was really teeny.”

The RHS gym, with a floor that Stan Shingleton remembered as “not quite” 84 feet long, is still in use today at Romney Elementary.

Petersburg was the only school in the Potomac Valley Conference with a full-size floor, so Romney’s style of play was well suited for the gyms the Pioneers played in. They were easier to trap on or make a quick break.

But the state playoffs were all on bigger courts, so Green took the boys on the road to practice in Petersburg and in Allegany High’s gym, Campobello, in Cumberland, Md.

They lined up as they usually did the first time at Allegany only to hear Green say, “You boys have the rest of this floor to use. Spread out.”

“It took us a while to get used to the fact that we were going to be on a much bigger floor,” Kirk said.

The sectional opponents were familiar. Petersburg fell 86-51 on March 4. Keyser went down for the third time the next night, holding the ball the final three minutes to keep Romney from hitting 100. Big Bill Maphis won the personal battle with Keyser’s Gary Keedy this time, 41 points to 26 and 31 rebounds to 6.

Next up was the regional tournament in Weston. The threat of snow sent the team west a day early, but it didn’t keep fans away.

Gassaway hung tough for a half, but the Pioneers exploded for 26 in the third quarter on their way to an 82-70 victory. Maphis scored 29 before fouling out for the only time all year.

The game was memorable for one other oddity, Ronald Z. Wilson noted in the Review. Play had to be stopped when shooting guard Donnie Davis popped a contact lens.

Commonplace now, Davis said he was the first in the area to wear them.

“I gave a boy a little fake and he gouged me in the eye,” Davis recalled. “The lens popped out and I called time. I told the referee. He said, ‘Don’t mess with me, boy.’”

Maphis popped in 33 the next night as Romney took the regional championship 79-66 over Kingwood. He, Kirk and guard A.D. Hott were named to the all-tournament team.

“The team now has two really nice trophies. All they want is one more,” Wilson wrote.

The Pioneers had the most trouble they had all year getting a shot at that trophy.

Clendenin overcame a 10-point Romney lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter to go ahead 55-54 with 20 seconds to play.

Green called time out and set up a play. Hott had fouled out, so guard Gary Short was to inbound the ball to Davis who was to get it to Maphis about 12 feet out. The forwards, Kirk and Shingleton, were to cut with Maphis dishing to whichever one was open for the layup.

“Guys, if you execute the play, you win. If you don’t, you lose,” Shingleton recalled Green’s words over the years.

The play ran like clockwork, Short to Davis to Maphis to … Shingleton.

“I lay it up and in and the whistle blows,” Shingleton recounted. He figured he had been called for traveling.

But the whistle was a foul by Clendenin on Maphis as he passed. Shingleton’s basket didn’t count.

Maphis stepped to the line and sank two free throws to put Romney on top 56-55.

Then, to add insult to injury, he intercepted Clendenin’s inbound pass to seal the victory.

“We were lucky to win it,” Maphis said. “To win a championship you have to be lucky at certain times.”

After that scare, the championship game against Oceana seemed easy, even though Maphis said Oceana was a better team than Clendenin.

He scored 38 in the 75-63 victory. He grabbed 17 first-half rebounds and 25 overall. Shingleton added 13 points and 14 caroms, and both were named all-tournament.

Davis recalled a headline in the Morgantown newspaper after the semifinal predicted that Oceana would win the title.

“I don’t even know if we’re supposed to show up or not,” Green told the team before the game.

The Pioneers showed up and made sure that Romney was known throughout the state for something other than apples — although they brought more Romney apples to give out in Morgantown.

They became the fourth team in West Virginia history to win a basketball championship undefeated, and the first in the two-year-old Class AA bracket.

The team returned home that same night.

“This side of Fort Ashby, they met us at the county line – I don’t know how many cars there were – and led us in,” Maphis remembered fondly.

The last words belonged to Wilson, in his Hampshire Review column.

“We did it! Live it up, Hampshire.”

 

AFTER THE SHOUTING

‘It seems like a long time ago’

 

The revelry was interrupted abruptly by Clyde Green’s announcement that he was leaving Romney.

The news came as a shock to his team.

“None of us had any idea during the tournament,” said Bill Maphis, who Green had nurtured through four years of high school, steering him toward WVU.

Rumor had it that Green had his eye on a coaching job at his alma mater, but it was not to be.

He was headed to Florida, following former Romney High football coach Wes Abrams.

Actually, the Hampshire Review reported on the Wednesday after the championship, Green had simply announced he was leaving and only “likely” to go to Lake Wales, Fla.

His relationship with parents and administrators had always been prickly.

“He was not very diplomatic as far as it came to pleasing the people,” Maphis said. “I think that made him quite a coach.”

One story has Green being called in to meet with Superintendent A. Clinton Loy and some of the boosters who were dissatisfied with Green’s coaching and personnel decisions. This was early in his tenure at Romney.

Green listened impassively, asking one question when Loy offered him a chance to speak.

“Am I still the coach?” he asked. Loy said he was. The boosters were only offering suggestions, Loy said.

“Fine,” Green replied as he rose to leave. “There’s a good movie on at 9 o’clock that I’d like to see.”

“It was his way,” said guard Donnie Davis.

After a short stint in Florida, Green coached at Morgantown High until his retirement in 1981. When Morgantown’s Lady Mohigans took the 1978 Class AAA title, he became the first coach to win both the boys’ and girls’ West Virginia state championships. He died in 2002.

Of course, Green wasn’t the only departure. All five starters were graduating.

Maphis, as expected ended up at WVU. The Mountaineers were a season removed from their second-place finish in the NCAA. Jerry West, everybody’s favorite WVU player, graduated in 1960 and Fred Schaus, Green’s former teammate and friend, left as the coach after recruiting Maphis.

Maphis did get a chance to play with West, in an outdoor summer league in Charleston. They faced each other a few times and played together on an all-star team that took on a squad from Wheeling that included John Havlicek.

The Romneyite majored in physical education — “the only thing I wanted to do is play ball” — and earned a master’s degree.

He was a three-year starter for the Mountaineers, averaging 13.3 points a game his senior season.

Maphis taught and coached in Winchester for a while and retired from the insurance industry. He lives in South Carolina.

Shingleton attended Potomac State for a year before transferring to Fairmont State. He played for a Falcons team that advanced to the semifinals of the NAIA tournament his senior year.

He was a long-time basketball coach in Malvern, Ohio, moving on to become athletic director there. He came out of retirement to oversee a $42 million school building project that wrapped up in 2010.

Dave Kirk played four years for Davis and Elkins College.

“Our team didn’t do so well, but I had a lot of good games,” including a 49-point night against West Virginia Tech, he recalled.

After graduation, he attended Union Theological Seminary in Richmond. He is retired from the Presbyterian ministry and living in Lynchburg, Va.

Davis joined Roscoe Dean at Shepherd, playing on the freshman team.

“Then I was in a car wreck, broke my back, and never played college ball after that,” he explained. He transferred from Shepherd to Potomac State and then to Fairmont, where he roomed with Shingleton.

He got his start in coaching while a student there. He ended up back in Romney, teaching and coaching at Hampshire High and refereeing throughout the Panhandle until his death in 2019.

A.D. Hott, the fifth starter, “never went to college,” Davis said. He was working at Crown Cork and Seal in Winchester when he died in a motorcycle accident in 1981.

Two other reserves from the team are gone. Harwell Hott passed away in 1995 and Terry Mezzatesta in 2010.

Mezzatesta, John Blue, Monte Mathias, Hubert High and Kenny Ayers were all back the next season.

Ronald Z. Wilson was, too, writing for the Review.

But the Pioneers had to learn a new system under a new coach, Roger Parker. They also suffered the pent-up vengeance of teams the Pioneers had run roughshod over for a few years. The 1960-61 team finished 6-14.

Romney High School closed three years later, consolidated with Capon Bridge to create Hampshire High. Their playoff opponents are gone too.

Oceana, which won state undefeated in 1965, merged with Baileysville to form Westside High in Wyoming County in the 1st decade of this century. Gassaway joined with Sutton and Burnsville in 1969 to form Braxton County. Clendenin was consolidated with Elkview in 1963 to form Herbert Hoover. Kingwood was rolled into Preston County in 1991.

“It seems like a long time ago,” Shingleton said in 2010, then quietly added: “It is.”

The trophy the boys brought back to Romney now rests in the RHS museum outside Romney Elementary School on School Street. It’s brought out each June at the RHS reunion.

Some of the teammates return for that. Many of them gathered in August 2009 at Hampshire High to be honored at the fall sports kickoff luncheon there as the first inductees into the Hampshire County Athletics Hall of Fame.

Kirk told the story of the banquet thrown in their honor after the season. In attendance were members of Romney High’s first basketball team, from 1929-30. It was something he didn’t remember from the 1960 event, but was moved by 20 years later when he read about it.

“If you have success in life, it’s built on the shoulders of some who have gone before,” he told the HHS athletes, pointing to his team’s success and its legacy back to the first team.

“That’s quite an accomplishment,” Maphis acknowledges. “It’s so long ago, I don’t think it happened.” o

 

THE UNTOLD STORY

Maphis to WVU – pre-ordained?

 

Bill Maphis’s starring role in Romney High’s undefeated state championship earned him a basketball scholarship to West Virginia University, where he was a three-year starter (freshmen couldn’t play on the varsity squads on those days).

“I would never have been able to go there without it,” Maphis said.

In some ways, the 6-4 leaper appeared destined to be a Mountaineer.

RHS Coach Clyde Green was a college teammate of WVU coach Fred Schaus, “the man who put West Virginia basketball on the map,” recalled Maphis’s teammate Stan Shingleton.

Maphis first met Schaus when the Romney boy was a freshman and already a starter for the Pioneers.

“He was on his way to Hedgesville to recruit Gale Catlett, and stopped through Romney,” Maphis recounted. Green introduced the duo and Schaus followed Maphis through his high school career.

 “It was always assumed I’d go to WVU,” Maphis said.

Now, he acknowledges, Green probably did more than most people realized to make sure Maphis landed at his alma mater.

“R.Z. Wilson (a savvy student) said I’d be getting letters from colleges, but they never came,” Maphis said.

Did Green intercept those letters? Maphis won’t go that far, but he tells this story.

Bucky Waters, who became the Mountaineer basketball coach after Maphis graduated from WVU, was coaching Duke when Maphis was a senior at Romney.

Years later, Waters told Maphis that on a recruiting trip to Pittsburgh he planned to swing through Romney and check out this kid he had heard so much about, so he called Green to arrange it.

Green told Waters not to bother – that Maphis was sidelined with a broken ankle

Later, Maphis said, “I told my mother about it, and she said, ‘Bill, don’t you remember? You got a get-well card from Duke.’”

Maphis never suffered a broken ankle.

– Jim King

 

The 1959-60 Season

 

Romney High School’s undefeated run to the 1959-60 West Virginia High School Class AA basketball championship

Dec. 1  A team 113       B team 25         Bill Maphis outscores the reserves by 32

Dec. 4  Romney 87        Ridgeley 45        Ridgeley held scoreless first 5 minutes

Dec. 8 Romney 94        WVSD 47          John Blue scores 10 off the bench

Dec. 11            Romney 77        Fort Ashby 60    Donnie Davis clicking on his jump shot, scores 18

Dec. 16            Romney 84        Alumni 63          The once weres were better than the 1958 crew

Dec. 21            Romney 82        Paw Paw 58      Maphis misses a free throw after 22 straight

Jan. 2   Romney 78        Keyser 57          Maphis has more rebounds (32) than points (29)

Jan. 5   Romney 97        University 77      All five starters in double figures for first time

Jan. 8   Romney 71        Petersburg 55    Closest game of the season so far

Jan. 12 Romney 80        Moorefield 60     The Pioneers grab an 11-0 lead

Jan. 15 Romney 69        Notre Dame 65  Maphis out; A.D. Hott’s 22 wows Clarksburg crowd

Jan. 19 Romney 78        Fort Ashby 42    Maphis: 32 points, 31 rebounds

Jan. 22 Romney 65        Keyser 53          Keyser’s Gary Keedy outscores Maphis 30-26

Jan. 26 Romney 61        Paw Paw 32      Davis and Hott out-pass Pirates’ slowdown offense

Jan. 29 Romney 91        Ridgeley 36        Lefty Dave Kirk hits a season-high 22

Feb. 2   Romney 100      Capon Bridge 39 Bobcats fail to keep reserves from hitting 100.

Feb. 5   Romney 76        Moorefield 50     ’51 Jackets had previous PVC record of 20-1

Feb. 6   Romney 108      Petersburg 69    Maphis sinks 38 points, grabs 31 rebounds

Feb. 16 Romney 118      WVSD 69          High score of the year; Maphis cans 41

Feb. 19 Romney 93        Capon Bridge 59 Pioneers try 73 foul shots

Feb. 22 Romney 115      Wardensville 49  60-18 at half; Stan Shingleton’s 23 is his season high

Feb. 24 Romney 87        Roosevelt Wilson 64        2nd Clarksburg trip includes radio interviews

March 4            Romney 86        Petersburg 51    Section 7AA semifinals at Keyser

March 5            Romney 97        Keyser 69          Section championship; Maphis, Kirk all-tourney team

March 11          Romney 82        Gassaway 70     Region 2AA semifinal at Weston

March 12          Romney 79        Kingwood 66      Region final; Maphis, Kirk honored again

March 18          Romney 56        Clendenin 55      State semifinals at Morgantown

March 19          Romney 75        Oceana 63        State final; Maphis, Shingleton all-tourney

 

The Roster

The Starters

54        Bill Maphis         6-3       C          Sr.       

52        David Kirk          6-2       F          Sr.       

50        Stan Shingleton  6-1       F          Sr.       

22        Donnie Davis      5-8       G          Sr.       

20        A.D. Hott           5-7       G          Sr.       

The Reserves

44        Harwell Hott       6-1       C          Sr.

34        Gary Short         5-10     G          Sr.       

24        John Blue           6-0       F          Jr.        

42        Monte Mathias   5-8       F          So.

40        Hubert High       6-1       F          So.

32        Terry Mezzatesta 5-10     G          So.

30        Kenny Ayers       5-6       G          So.

 

Manager

Ronald Z. Wilson

 

Coach

Clyde Hard Times Green

 

Undefeated champs

The schools in West Virginia that have won boys’ basketball championships without a loss

YEAR         SCHOOL                      CLASS      RECORD

1938    Wheeling                        24-0

1950    Wheeling            A          25-0

1958    Ansted              B          25-0

1960    Romney             AA        26-0*

1961    Barrackville        A          27-0    

1962    Woodrow Wilson AAA      25-0

1964    Kermit               A          27-0

1965    Oceana             AA        26-0

1967    Bramwell           A          26-0

1968    Charleston         AAA      25-0

1973    Charleston         AAA      25-0

1976    Rivesville            A          26-0

1985    Stonewall Jackson          AAA      26-0

1987    Paden City         A          27-0

2015    Poca                 AA        27-0

2016    Morgantown       AAA      27-0

2019    Webster County  A          28-0

 

*The WVSSAC doesn’t count the alumni game

 

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