Richland basketball coach Richard Bacon was honored in a ceremony before family, friends, administrators and former players at the high school before Tuesday's game against Southlake Carroll for claiming his 500th career victory.
Bacon reached the milestone with an 87-46 rout of Austin Reagan at the Austin Anderson Tournament on Dec. 6. The Rebels (10-4) have since reeled off four more wins, including a 68-67 squeaker over Carroll in the District 4-5A opener to push his record to 504-257 in a career that spans 3 1/2 decades.
Leyton Hammonds, a 6-foot-8 wing who recently signed with Oklahoma State, led the Rebels to victory Tuesday with 18 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals.
"I've been knowing coach Bacon for three years now and it seems like we've gotten closer throughout," Hammonds said. "I'm so proud of him and it just shows how great of a coach he is."
Bacon won a NAIA national championship as a player at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, before returning to his alma mater Dallas Pinkston in 1979 as the freshman team coach. He got his first head coaching gig at rural Seagoville in 1981 and promptly led the school to its only trip to state in 1985 before heading back to the inner city to coach at Dallas Lincoln.
Bacon steered Lincoln to two state titles (1990, '93) before joining Billy Tubbs' staff at TCU in 1994, where he remained until 1997. He's been at Richland since then, where after a rough start, the Rebels have qualified for the playoffs eight of the last 10 seasons.
"If you don't keep up with what's changing in basketball then you'll be left behind," Bacon said. "The success that I think that I've had hasn't been by chance, it's been a lot of hard work."
Bacon's success is no surprise to one of his oldest friends, former Mavericks star Rolando Blackman, who was in attendance Tuesday night for the ceremony.
"We met many years ago playing against each other in a summer league pro-am in South Dallas at Martin Luther King," Blackman said. "He was a tough defender, just tenacious. That's when I met him and understood about his game and character, because no one had the courage to come up against me and be forceful in what they did except for Rich."
They'll take it
When asked how his Arlington Martin Warriors were able to escape Tuesday's District 3-5A opener against rival Arlington with a 44-42 win, coach Jeff Plemons replied, "Luck."
Maybe he's right. Despite missing 14 of 20 free throws, including the front end of a pair of one-and-ones down the stretch, the Warriors (13-2) survived a couple of last-minute 3-point attempts and a tip-in attempt by the Colts.
Junior guard Nick Babb led Martin with 13 points and was the only Warrior to finish in double figures Tuesday night.
"If there is a silver lining, it's you don't knock a win, especially a district win," Plemons said. "With the goals this team has set that's not going to be good enough, though, but hopefully we'll learn from it and come in Wednesday ready to work."
Filling it up
Arlington Bowie guard Jeremy Senglin poured in 31 points in a 82-32 rout of District 3-5A foe Weatherford.
Saginaw guard Dominique Johnson scored 28 in a 57-51 overtime win over District 6-4A rival Birdville.
Justin Northwest guard Josh Tatum scored 27 in a 61-51 District 4-5A opening victory over Haltom.
Jarret Johnson, 817-390-7760
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