Just before the Butcher Center opened for Shepherd basketball, the Rams were in Coach Bob Starkey’s last season at the college and they staged their up-tempo games at the humidity-filled facility on the East Campus known as Sara Cree Hall.
That was a full 26 years ago this season.
Starkey always had his teams in a scoring frame of mind and full of offense. Many of those last games in Sara Cree found the high-octane Rams getting 100 or more points.
Sometimes both teams flew around the brick enclave and scored more than 100 points.
Shepherd was in the largest small-college conference in the country. The WVIAC had 16 teams and they were from nearly every corner of the state. Public schools. Private schools. Some with less than a thousand students. At least one — Fairmont — with more than 4,000 enrollees.
Salem College was in the league. So were West Virginia Tech and Bluefield State.
Playing for the Rams and scoring points in huge bunches were Terry Connolly, Bobby Boyd and Bobby Chuey. That threesome had one game where they combined for 86 points.
Six times during that 1987-88 season, Connolly, Boyd and Chuey all scored more than 20 points in the same game.
Connolly was at Shepherd for only two seasons after starring at Thomas Johnson High in Frederick.
His scoring average that last season at Shepherd was 25.8 points a game. Three times he had games where he scored more than 20 points and had more than 20 rebounds.
He totaled 781 points and 388 rebounds as Starkey’s Rams won 21 games, including two over heated rival, Fairmont.
After that halcyon season and with Starkey leaving Shepherd, Connolly transferred to NCAA Division I Richmond and was on a Spider team that shocked the nation by winning a tournament game against Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse Orangemen.
In two Shepherd seasons, Connolly scored 1,225 points.
Chuey, the son of a northern Virginia high school basketball coach, was a junior whose final statistical folder was thick with Shepherd career records.
He’s still Shepherd’s fifth all-time scorer with 1,984 points. Even as a 6-foot-4 guard he’s the school’s 15th all-time career rebounder.
His shooting accuracy is almost legendary because his four-year career free throw percentage was .858 and his career three-point shooting was .457.
Chuey has the only recorded triple-double in school history with a 19-point, 12-rebound, 10-assist game.
Bobby Boyd was a 6-foot-3 senior guard/forward who had played at T.C. Williams High in Alexandria.
In 1987-88, he averaged 22.6 points a game, scoring 701 points. Boyd finished his four-year career with 1,912 points and is Shepherd’s 7th all-time career scorer.
Of the Connolly-Boyd-Chuey trio, only Chuey would play a season in the Butcher Center.
A junior like Chuey on the 1987-88 team was guard Rob McGlothlin, a football player in high school. McGlothlin would finish his four-year basketball duties with a senior year in the Butcher Center.
He totaled 968 points in his career as a starter for both Starkey and his successor.
McGlothin, Chuey and another 1987-88 junior, Joe Ott, would be the tri-captains of the first team to play a season in the Butcher Center.
Ray Barcikowski, Mark Mallisham, Bobby Hoenig, Mike Grigsby and David Blair were guards on the team that finished with a 21-10 overall record. Blair, Mallisham and Hoenig would all play at least a season in the Butcher Center.
After scoring over 100 points in 10 regular season games, the Rams traveled to Charleston for the annual WVIAC tournament. The tournament champion might be invited to the NCAA Division II national tournament.
Shepherd seemed to be one of about five schools that had legitimate chances of winning the conference tournament championship.
Teams had to play four consecutive nights in order to win the event played at the Charleston Civic Center Coliseum facility.
The Rams edged West Liberty, 94-93, in the opening round and the next night defeated Fairmont State, 90-85.
In the tournament semifinals, the Rams lost an 84-81 verdict to West Virginis Tech in the last seconds.
A third-place consolation game was played for the building crowd waiting for the title game and Shepherd fell in that anticlimactic finale, 122-116, to Charleston.
The 116 points the Rams scored in losing in the tournament consolation game were fitting for a team that had scored at least 90 points in 17 of its 31 games that season.
That nets-scorching season happened 26 years ago, the swan song of once-revered Cree Hall and its student cheers echoing off the yellow brick walls and where Starkey’s Rams scored points in record numbers.