Ronnie Maple got to say good bye to an old friend Friday night.
Maple, in his first season as boys’ coach at Locust Grove, played for Joel Hill at Miami High School.
He’s going to miss Monday night’s celebration of MHS’ 50-plus year stay in the building — the Pirates travel to Vinita for their regular season finale.
“It’s a special place,” Maple said after his Pirates suffered a 67-59 loss to Miami. “The new facility will be nice.”
A mixer/chili feed is planned for 4:30 p.m. Monday and the guests will be recognized over the course of the evening. The 1972 state championship banner will be lowered following the boys’ game, which tips off at 8 p.m.
Honorees will be recognized over the course of the evening.
Former coaches who hope to attend are Don Overton — who guided MHS to the’72 title — and Bill Duffield, Ed Hammons, Archie Loehr and Harley Turner. Also, Charlene Lingo, widow of former coach and AD John Lingo, will be on hand.
Parking could be a problem. In addition to the games against arch-rival Grove, the Miami City Council also meets Monday night.
Fans attending can park on the old VFW (north of the Civic Center) and Neil Norton (east) lots. Also, there will be space available on the Miami True Value lot later in the evening.
Maple’s senior year (1992), the Wardogs ended a 20-year title drought at the Northeastern A&M High School Basketball Tournament, beating Siloam Springs, Ark., 64-62 in the Boys’ White final.
“It was special then, and to get to come back and coach in it, it’s a great feeling,” Maple said.
Maple compiled a 98-36 record in five seasons at Afton. The Lady Eagles won 23 games each of his last three seasons, reaching the area tournament each time. They were 23-4 in 2007-08.
"My girls were a special group at Afton," Maple said. "They were not your typical squad."
He picked up his 100th career victory when the Pirates beat Chouteau 44-40 on Dec. 9.
Locust Grove started the season 7-3, but has won just once since then after running into discipline and eligibility problems.
"I love it — the kids are great," Maple said. "I am hard on them but I treat them like they were my own sons. They work hard. As long as they continue to work hard, good things will come."
Guard Lucas Raith was the only senior on the floor Friday night.
"We’re trying to find our leaders," Maple said. "I am proud of the kids for hanging in there and battling. They are learning how to play. We’re just young. I want it to happen for them because they’ve worked so hard.
"It will take some time. They are like me. They want to win now. I want to win now."