By Barry Lewis
Sixteen will be inducted in Booker T. Washington’s inaugural “Hornets Ring of Honor” ceremony scheduled for Feb. 8 between games of a basketball doubleheader against Union at Nathan E. Harris Field House.
“With the great tradition for over a century here, this is something we’ve needed to do to honor all the great people and great things done at one of the best high schools in the nation,” Ring of Honor chairman and longtime track/cross country coach Greg Nash said Wednesday.
Nash and the Booker T. Washington Alumni Association have been working on the Ring of Honor for a year. All 16 and future inductees will be honored with their own banner, which will include the original Hornets logo from 1913, that will hang from the Harris Field House rafters. At a later date, a banner with all of the Hornets All-Americans will be displayed on a wall.
“Since the new field house was built (in 2012), we’ve talked about how we could give this championship arena the right look,” said Nash, a 1980 Washington graduate.
Washington plans to have an annual Ring of Honor ceremony, but there will likely be fewer inductees in ensuing years. The Ring of Honor is being funded by private donations.
Four of this year’s inductees are being honored for their coaching, including Washington graduates Nathan E. Harris and Ulysses “U.S.” Mitchell.
Harris coached the Hornets to 10 state boys basketball titles in 25 years (1982-2007). Mitchell, who will be inducted into the Tulsa Public Schools Athletics Hall of Fame next week, was 201-32 in 10 seasons as Booker T. Washington’s basketball coach from 1953-63. He also was athletic director during that span. His first team went 29-1 and reached the National Negro High School Basketball Tournament semifinals in Nashville.
The other coaches inducted will be Ed Lacy, who led the Hornets to five state football titles in a seven-year span from 1967-73 and S.E. Williams, who led Washington to 19 state football titles in the Oklahoma Interscholastic Athletic Association, before desegregation enabled the Hornets to join the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association. He had a 290-23-11 record with 14 undefeated seasons from 1920-51. Williams also coached the Hornets to 13 OIAA state basketball titles and won five national championships and led the Hornets to six national track titles.
The 12 former student-athletes inducted will include two Olympic gold-medal winners — Kenny Monday (wrestling) and Wayman Tisdale (basketball). The other 10 are (with their primary sport in parentheses): Reuben Gant (football), Melvin Gilliam (football/basketball), Taleya Mayberry (basketball), RW McQuarters (football), Julius Pegues (basketball), Kim Schumpert (track), Etan Thomas (basketball), Melanie VonHartitzsch (swimming), Michael Wilson (baseball) and John Winesberry (later known as Shaheed Nuriddin — football).
A sellout crowd is likely. Advance tickets ($7 adults, $4 senior citizens/students, cash only) are on sale at the Booker T. Washington bookstore from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.
Booker T. Washington junior Bryce Thompson scored 25 points to reach 1,000 for his career in an 89-66 victory over Bartlesville on Tuesday. Hornets junior Trey Phipps is at 993 points and senior Seth Hurd has 938. It’s rare for a high school basketball team to have three career 1,000-point scorers.
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