March 6--  As the Vidalia Indians prepare for their first shot at a state basketball championship in 36 years, the coach who guided the 1982 Indians to their last state title appearance is cheering from his home behind the high school on Grossman Drive.

Coach Ralph Parsons believes the team led by Coach Tommy Dalley is fully ready for the big stage in the Macon Centreplex when they take on Thomasville High School at four p.m. Wednesday.

"It takes a while for a team to be put together and when it comes together at a crucial time in the season, apparently that's what has happened with this.  Every game is a big game into the next and this is the biggest game.  We've played in some circumstances during the past several years that Coach Dalley has taken us into and we have an idea of what it is to play the so-called big game on the road in big gymnasiums before big crowds.

"It's a case of the youngsters knowing what to expect each time.  The more you do it, the better you get at it and I think this group will be experienced as Coach Dalley has prepared for these big games," he said.

indians1982champsCoach Parsons remembers like yesterday the Indians' 1982 team and how they battled Crawford County which was led by Kenny "Sky" Walker who went on to star in the NBA for the New York Knicks and the Washington Bullets.

"Fred Stokes, who we know went on the play professional football, did a great job on Kenny Walker in that championship ballgame.  You can only cause somebody like that not to beat you and that really is what happened. Crawford County did a great job. Darrell Wise was a quarterback, a football player who went to Georgia Tech as a wide receiver.  Anthony Forrest was a mainstay with the team who played football, but he didn't go to a football environment in college but played basketball and later became our basketball coach for a time.  Clarence Gillis was our other big man, other than Fred, he was one of three brothers and was definitely a team player.  An unsung young man isn't mentioned often, but Harvey Byrd was a first-year starter, only about five-eight, but he delivered the ball into the positions where we needed it.  That was a great five, and I would also mention a sixth man, David Hodge.  I was impressed the way he stepped off the football field and was willing to play, he could have started anywhere else.  He made us essentially a six man team," he remembers.

The Coach is also quick to credit his bench, "People don't realize that the reserves may not get a lot of playing time, but they go to the gym everyday and work on things that make the starters better players.  That was the type of team we had.  Every day was a fluent practice day for us because of our bench team," he said.

Regarding this year's championship game, "Coach Dalley has taken a group this year and has brought them from a mediocre team, to a pretty good team, to an outstanding team willing to play his style and all of them are willing to play their strength, whatever they can do, a shooter, a ball-handler or defender.

"You have to play good defense to get to where we are this year.  That truly was a thing that led us to the state championship game.  We had individuals who played half-court games and made the other team play half-court games and we would play defense.  Play possessions.  You've got to get the number of possessions and you've got to do something with your possessions.  You can't turn it over, you can't miss a shot, you can't miss a free throw.  All those things enter into all the games you play, but nothings as big as a state tournament ballgame," Coach Parsons observed.


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