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Grant Traylor: Bridgeport's Randolph bids farewell

Mar. 16, 2013 @ 12:27 AM

CHARLESTON -- As the seconds ticked off the clock during Bridgeport's 65-58 loss to Fairmont Senior, it wasn't just the end of a Class AA state semifinal.

It was the end of an era for one of West Virginia's most tenured and well-liked coaches.

The career of Bridgeport's Gene Randolph had come to a close after 20 seasons of high-energy antics on the sidelines.

Randolph's actions match his personality -- he pumped every ounce of energy he had into Bridgeport basketball and in return, he got every ounce of energy from every player he coached.

While the 2012-13 season was his last, he said he couldn't have been more proud to go out with the group of players he coached in his final year.

"I just told them, I couldn't be prouder of any group that I've been associated with and that includes the state championship team, although I was really proud of them," Randolph said.

The emotional coach was able to keep his composure throughout the majority of his final press conference, but got a little teary-eyed about 10 minutes into things when talking about his passion for basketball.

"That's who I am," Randolph said. "I've had a tremendous love affair with this game since I was a little tyke. I just told them to go out the way they did today -- as competitors -- that's what I've always tried to do."

Just as Randolph was excitable with his movements and energy on the sidelines, he was as colorful in speaking after games.

He literally came up with his own language when speaking about the game and its tendencies and his last press conference was no different.

It was an array of words that would've made former Marshall football coach Bob Pruett proud.

In speaking of his opponent's style of play, Randolph said Fairmont was at times "anxietous" but their "veteranism" made it work.

He also said there was a method to their "scramblization" in the offensive scheme - a term which even made him chuckle a bit.

As for his final competitor, he added that it was a bit fitting that it came in a tight battle with Fairmont - a team the Indians had been Big 10 rivals with for years and a team they had three confrontations with on the season.

"I don't think you could've scripted it any better," Randolph said. "Like I say, I have so much respect for (Fairmont) coach (David) Retton and the effort he puts into it and the work he does.

"If you are a hard-core basketball aficionado and you have a tremendous love for the game, and you have to lose one, it's a pleasure - not a pleasure - but it's an honor to lose to someone as classy as Coach Retton."

It's fitting that one of Randolph's last statements spoke about coaches with class because he was the epitome of the phrase.

HUNTING HONORED: At halftime of the Martinsburg-Washington game, former River Cities referee Aaron Hunting was honored by the WVSSAC for his 18 years of service.

Hunting passed away in the fall after a battle with leukemia.

His father Ollie - also an official in the River Cities - accepted the certificate at mid-court and there was a moment of silence also observed.

BEAR-Y EFFICIENT: Offensively, Fairmont Senior's boys basketball team pulled off an amazing feat, considering the high-speed pace that they utilize in their game.

In the win over Bridgeport, Fairmont had a 5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio while assisting on 20 of 24 made field goals in the game.

That's doing work.

"They get wild and crazy, but at the same time, there's some methodology about it," Randolph said of Fairmont's offense.

Grant Traylor is a sports writer for The Herald-Dispatch. He can be reached by phone at (304) 417-5222 or by E-mail at gtraylor@herald-dispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter (@GrantTraylor).

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