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Charleston, Scott Central to play alumni game Oct. 23

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Two schools have combined for 31 state titles in last 35 years


CHARLESTON -- They've combined for 31 state titles in the last 35 years and could be considered the cream of the crop when it comes to high school basketball in the state of Missouri.

Which is why when the Charleston Bluejays and Scott County Central Braves get together, people tend to take notice.

Charleston graduate Lester Gillespie, who has connections with both schools, is hoping that's the case when the Bluejays and Braves get together once again on Oct. 23 for an alumni basketball game featuring players from both school's illustrious history on the hardwood.

"I'm proud of the fact that I got the opportunity to live in Scott Central's school district and work in Charleston's school district," said Gillespie. "You're not going to find two better basketball programs."

The reason Gillespie and others affiliated with each school will be playing one another will be to raise money for the Charleston youth basketball program -- something that could be pointed to as to why the two basketball schools have had so much success.

Gillespie, who contributes his time to Charleston's youth program, knows all about the friendly rivalry between both Charleston and Scott Central. Which is why Scott Central's youth director, Larry Mosley, and Gillespie try and play each other throughout their respective seasons.

"As far as basketball is concerned, it all starts with the little league programs with Larry Mosley and myself," Gillespie said. "We always try and play each other two or three times a year because we know the competition is always going to be there. Even at elementary levels."

According to Gillespie, having the legends of Charleston and Scott Central basketball on the same court will hopefully bring in spectators.

"We want this to be an annual thing," Gillespie said. "All the money we're raising will go to the youth basketball program and then, hopefully, next year, all that money will go to Scott Central's youth program.

"What better way to kick the basketball season off," added Gillespie. "We're excited about this. It's just a good, wholesome rivalry."

Along with two games of both men and women from each school, alumni directors will also be recognizing the Charleston 1975 state championship team, which was the first of their 10 state titles.

Head coach of that team, Mitch Haskins, will be present as well as head coaches Lennies McFerren, Bobby Spencer and Danny Farmer. Scott Central's Ronnie Cookson and his 1976 state title team will also be recognized as well as Otto Porter and James "Frog" Williams, who each played on the Braves' '76 squad, which was also the first of 14 state titles for Scott Central.

"(Porter and Williams) always come back and play with this new generation of kids at Scott County Central," said Gillespie. "They keep that tradition close. Sometimes, people don't realize how much time they spend in the gym playing with those guys and they are definitely mentors to those teams.

"We just wanted to recognize them for what they do."

Porter and Williams, along with Jerry Porter, Melvin Porter and Anthony "Moon" Timmons will be just a few of the representatives from Scott Central, while Gene Rodgers, Larry Smith, Percy Owens, Michael Morris and Angelo Cassell make up some of the Charleston roster. Missy Whitney, Florene Hall, Dollette Jones and Ladonna Walker, with others to be named later will represent the Charleston women's squad.

Former alumni for the men's team will consist of graduates from 1976 to 1988 while the women's roster will consist of graduates up to 2010.

Admission for the event is $3 for adults and $2 for students. Tipoff for the women's game will be 4 p.m. while the men will begin at 7 p.m.

"There's a nice rivalry between Charleston and Scott Central," Gillespie said. "But, it's a clean rivalry. You could go back and talk about the AAU teams we've had and it's always been combined with Scott Central and Charleston players. The kids know each other and it's always been a good thing."