This anniversary year will be long remembered at James River High School. Perhaps not so much because the school is celebrating its 50th anniversary, but because the boys basketball team won the school’s first ever boys’ team state championship.

There have been a lot of basketballs dribbled in the school’s old and new gyms since the 1959-60 opening year, and a lot of records set, including the ones that members of the championship team added to their list of accomplishments.

J.C. Entsminger with one of the books that hold James River High School boys basketball records and another that has clippings and information from this year’s championship season. Photo by Ed McCoy
J.C. Entsminger with one of the books that hold James River High School boys basketball records and another that has clippings and information from this year’s championship season. Photo by Ed McCoy

Keeping those records is a challenging endeavor for a school that’s been around for five decades, but there’s no guessing about who owns what Knight basketball record. That’s because J.C. Entsminger (class of ’69) has been the steward of the boys’ basketball records since 1970.

Forty years ago he started keeping newspaper clippings for each game, and he’s kept it up ever since. He also got the scorebooks for all the years before that 1970 season from former Coach John Shotwell, and all the ones since so he could record the official stats of what each team and individual did.

In the process, he’s tabulated statistics for teams and individuals that rival what colleges and professional teams might have.

As an example, the state championship team is the only JRHS boys basketball team that’s ended its season with a win. That was the team’s 28th victory (a record) in the state championship game.

Back in the day, the districts played a consolation game along with the championship game, and River didn’t win any of the consolation games it played in.

Consider, too, that Paul Burrell (’73) is the only Knight to collect more rebounds than points in his career at JRHS. From 1970-73 he pulled down 1,013 rebounds in 70 games (14.5 per game). He scored 1,004 points.

Number 2 on the career rebounds list? That’s Patrick Bennett from this year’s team who finished this season at the second spot career (866 in 112 games, 7.7 per game) and 11th in a single season (271 this season, 9.1 a game).

George Robinson (1972-73) had the most in a single season (424), and E.D. Schechterly (1974-75) has the highest average (17.6 per game) and the most in one game (28).

Entsminger, who grew up in the Wheatland area south of Buchanan, lives in Roanoke now, but he’s kept up with the basketball teams because he loved to play and enjoys keeping the statistics.

When looking through the records, you’ll find that the 1972-73 team was a rebounding machine. Consider that the top two single-season rebounding records are held by Robinson and Burrell, and the sixth man on that list—Larry Falls, also 1972-73. Danny Layman was on that team, too. He wound up as the 11th man on the career rebound list.

The team holds the single-game rebounding record, too. Imagine grabbing 87 rebounds in one game. That was against Natural Bridge. That team finished the season with 1,384 boards, a school record for a team.

That 1972-73 team also made it to the state semi-finals before losing to Luray.

Ethan Humphries rewrote two individual and career records about every time he played a game this season.

The senior point guard handed out 188 assists this season, seven more than Andy Shotwell (1984-85), who is number two on the list now.

Humphries also finished his career (2007-2010) with 587 assists—a record that will be hard to reach. Shotwell (1982-85) is number two on that list now with 351.

Humphries also is the career steals leader with 267 in his four years on the varsity, and Bennett is number two with 242.

Defense was important to the Knights since Humphries and Bennett stepped on the floor as freshmen, but they could score, too. In fact, three of River’s top 10 career scoring leaders graduate with this year’s class.

Bennett’s 1,459 career points (13.0 per game in 112 games) is second to Dana Waldron’s (1983-87) 1,590 career points (17.0 per game in 93 games).

Humphries finished his career as number eight on that list with 941 points in 109 games and Andrew Tucker was number nine with 834 in 79 games.

Seven Knights have scored 1,000 or more points in their careers. The others are Maurice Davenport (1986-90), 1,361; George Thompson (1986-90), 1,181; Corey Ware (2004-2009), 1,105; Jerry Austin (1982-85), 1,027 and Burrell (1970-73), 1004.

The record holder for most points in a single season belongs to Dana Waldron who poured in 651 points during the 1986-87 season.

Three players on the 1989-90 season who also made it to the state championship game are number two-four on the single season scoring list. They are Davenport (558), Don Turpin (525) and Thompson (517).

Steve Snuffer (498) and Timmy Wallace (484) are five and six in those records, and they both set those marks in the 1977-78 season when the Knights reached the state finals before losing to Cumberland County.

Turpin holds the single-game scoring record. He dropped in 44 points in a 90-60 win over Covington in the 1989-90 season. (Turpin also holds the record for most 3-point attempts in a Group A state tournament game with 21 attempts.)

Waldron is number two on that list with 41 points against Bath in the 1986-87 season. Waldron also scored 39 points twice, 38, 36 and 35 points in single games. In fact, he had 11 games with 30 or more points in his career. (Waldron holds the career record for blocked shots, too, with 210).

Davenport and Snuffer both scored 40 points in one game. Davenport’s came in a state tournament game in 1989 and was a state record at the time. Snuffer’s came in 1978 against the old Rockbridge High School.

The statistical record keeper, J.C. Entsminger, holds the JV scoring record with 38 points in one game, a 69-37 win over Alleghany in the 1965-66 season.

The best shooter in school history (with 100 or more attempts) was Frank Godfrey in the 1984-85 season when he drained 68 percent of his shots from the floor. He made 73 of 108 attempts.

Davon Ross, who graduated a year ago, was next on the list. He hit 65 percent—158 of 245 of his shots in his senior season.

Schechterly (1974-75) and David Thompson (1983-84) hit 61 percent of their shots in one season. Schechterly hit 189 of 310 attempts and Thompson hit 124 of 203 shots. Timmy Wallace hit 60 percent (183 of 307) of his shots during the 1977-78 season.

Leonard Robinson was the best free-throw shooter in one season. He hit 21 of 24 (84 percent) of his shots from the stripe in the 1970-71 season.

Philip Peery hit 95 of 166 (82 percent) free throws in 1971-72, and four others hit 81 percent of theirs in one season. They are Jerry Austin, Steve Barger, Mike Mays and Bryan Chamblin.

These records are just a sampling of what Entsminger has compiled for the boys basketball program.

He has the scores from each game for each of the team’s 51 seasons. He can flip through his notebooks and tell you how many times Knights have played any given school, and their records and scores of those games, how many went into overtime, and how many overtimes.

The Knights only four-OT game was against Lord Botetourt in 1981-82. The Knights prevailed 60-56 in a defensive battle that remained tied 52-52 after regulation and the first three OTs.

The Knights are 20-72 against LBHS since the two schools opened in 1959.

Consider the Knights are 51-49 and 36-35 all-time against Pioneer District rivals Parry McCluer and Covington.

Oh, and if the Knights score 60 points or more, they are 532-169. If they score 70 or more points in a game, they are 316-19 overall. If they score 59 or fewer, they are 164-339.

And all time, the Knights have played 1,147 games under five coaches and are 696-451. The coaches have been Gary Osborne, John Shotwell, Randy Howard, Dan Bowser and current coach Mike Goad. Goad is 152-55 in his eight years at River.

This season’s three seniors who were on the varsity for three or more years got a nice gift from Entsminger—their career individual totals and their season totals by year.

Humphries’ and Bennett’s cover their four varsity seasons and Tucker’s covers his three varsity seasons.

The stats include the number of games they played, two- and three-point attempts, the number they made and percentages (Bennett never attempted a 3-pointer), total attempts and made, their averages, free throw stats, rebounds, assists, steals, turnovers and blocked shots.

Entsminger also provided Coach Goad with a book of the running totals for the school and a photograph that lists the players in the 1,000-point club and the points they scored.

For Entsminger, this on-going endeavor is a commitment to his own alma mater that he truly has enjoyed for the four decades since he graduated himself.

And the fact that JRHS now has a state championship basketball team?

He just smiles.

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