Ada — Editor’s Note: Following is Part 3 of a three-part series on former Ada High standout Bo Overton, who is the school’s all-time leading scorer in boys basketball. Senior-to-be Cory Kilby is third on the all-time list and has a chance to pass Overton during the 2014-15 season.
For Glen Bo Overton, it all started in Ada at, no, not Glenwood Early Childhood Center, but he’s been there visiting the one-time center for kinniegartners.
Current Ada High cage coach Ron Anderson played with Overton and helped him to his all-time career-high point total. Anderson, who now coaches senior Cory Kilby and his challenge to Overton’s total, offered insight into the early days. Overton is home in Oklahoma after coaching the Dynamo Kursk, Russia, women’s team.
“I believe Bo moved here his eighth-grade season, when Jack Ray took over as coach (1975-80). Jack and Claudell (Overton) were very good friends and played together at ECU. My dad (ECU head coach from 1967-78 and athletic director from 1978 to 82) Jerry Anderson was also on one of those teams,” Anderson recalled. (Claudell Overton coached 18 seasons and was later a contractor. A Norman street is named Glenbo, with nearby streets named after Claudell’s daughters.)
Jack Ray and the elder Overton played for the Washington Wizards and traveled the world competing against the Harlem Globetrotters, which also boasted a couple of Oklahomans in Langston grads Marcus Haynes and Geese Ausbie.
Jerry Anderson was instrumental in bringing the Globetrotters to Ada in 1975, when Kerr Center opened.
The opening of Kerr Center also ushered in a new era, albeit brief, of Ada basketball.
After playing for ages in what was considered a totally inadequate gym — the East Gym on the Ada Junior High campus — AHS went big time.
Anderson explained: “Thanks to my dad being the AD and basketball coach at ECU, we got to play all our games in Kerr Center. I never played a high school game in the East Gym.”
They didn’t even practice in the East Gym, but rather in the smallish practice gym on the AHS campus. That facility was sort of an afterthought to the "new high school" when it opened in 1969. It was always in the works to build a new gym on the campus, but it did not happen until a few years ago.
So the Cougars of the day never set a tennie afoot on the Kerr court until game time. Players and fans of the era joke that in those years they never played a "home" game, always being "on the road" to the "unfamiliar," cavernous Dome.
Make that a Phantom of the Bo Opera, with an Overton overture
In Overton’s senior year came the last shot at a state championship. In the first game of the state tournament against OC Northeast, the 6-3 Overton hit over 30 for the sixth time on the year, a season-high 37. Totaling 23 in the second half, Overton took over and his teammates took only five shots as Ada won, 62-57.
A tall task, two really, awaited Ada in the semis — 6-7 OSU-bound Leroy Combs and 6-8 Kenneth Orange and the No. 1, undefeated Star Spencer Bobcats.
Del City was the scene, and 3,000 queued up to see the Oklahoma Player of the Year take on the Star stalwarts. Actually Overton was well aware of what to expect, having played with the duo all summer as AAU teammates.
Overton had 32 and freshman David Taylor six as the eventual state champ prevailed, 54-44.
Ada finished at 18-8, winning 11 of the last 13.
Overton bowed out of his spectacular career with 154 points in five playoff games.
Overton was the 1979 Oklahoma High School Basketball Player of the Year. In 2000, he was named to the Oklahoma High School All-Century Team.
For the 1978-79 season, Ron Anderson, Overton’s opposite at guard, had graduated but returned as a graduate assistant.
Overton said the team was packed with talent and experience.
“As a senior, we had a 6-5 senior in Bobby Johnson and a really outstanding freshman in 6-6 center David Taylor, and some really outstanding athletes from football, too, — the quarterback (Brent Whitson) and a couple of wide receivers (Clay Deaton, others), and they knew how to win, and wins mattered. If we needed eight points, we’d get it. If we needed 30, we’d get it. Just go play, go win.”
When Overton came to Ada, a local school districting flap caused him to sit out two semesters: the second semester of his eighth-grade year and the first semester of his freshman season.
Possibly, it wound up helping out in two ways:
(1) Overton was able to watch and practice with the varsity.
(2) He was able to watch the Ada magician before him, Mike Anderson.
It was Anderson’s senior season, the end of a truly remarkable, 1,000-point-plus career under three head coaches.
Anderson’s senior club was in Jack Ray’s first year as head coach, following Dan Jacobs’ one-year stand succeeding Zane Bowman.
It ended in the championship game, a 62-48 loss to OC Classen to cap a 22-7 season.
He was named All-State and signed to play at Southern Methodist.
“Heck, we used to drive to Dallas to see Mike play at SMU,” Overton said, adding that Anderson had his own fan base in Ada.
Anderson later came back to Ada to play at ECU. After college, he was a long-time assistant under Billy Tubbs at Oklahoma before returning to Ada in 1995 to coach the Cougars through 2005. He is currently athletic director and assistant superintendent with The System.
Some bear witness:
Memories of several close games spurred a humorous interjection by Overton’s coach, Jack Ray, at the recent reunion inside the Cougar Activity Center.
“Several times over the years, Bo would be having an outstanding game distributing the ball, but the game would still be in doubt and I would have to call a time out. I would say something like, ‘Bo, we’re looking good out there with ball movement and distribution of points, but we are behind. I want you to shoot the ball, son, shoot the ball.'”
“I got to see Mike Anderson play and practice in his senior year. He did things with a basketball that I had not seen done before. With my dad, I learned shooting, rebounding, getting the ball down the court. That sort of thing.”
Overton witnessed ball movement as he had never seen before — crossover dribble, between the legs, behind the back. Pin-point passing.
“Hey, I can do that. I can learn to do that.” — Bo Overton
“He was a quiet kid. Most humble kid you’d ever meet. There was no showboat about him. It was all about team, all about playing basketball, all about winning.” — Zane Bowman, Ada head basketball coach, principal and now retired superintendent.
“Jack Ray knows more about Bo than anyone. Bo not only played for him, Jack had known him since he was a little kid. Claudell (Overton) and he were very close and always around each other. — Zane Bowman
“He was the closest thing to a pure shooter that I ever saw. Bo was a natural shooter, but he worked, worked, worked at it. He worked on it to the point that he had calluses on his fingertips.” — Zane Bowman
The sound of one ball bouncing
In the late '70s, a student passing through the practice gym area would hear the sound of one ball bouncing. The gym was empty except for Bo. Shoot. Make. Rebound. Cut behind one of the several chairs he had set up to shoot from behind. Shoot. Make. Rebound. Cut behind ...
The best ever at Ada?
“I haven’t seen any better.” — Zane Bowman.
The best he ever saw?
“In our area for sure, and I have seen a bunch of good ones.” — Buddy Kessinger.
Buddy Kessinger has seen them all, at least for the last half of the past century and counting toward 20 years into this one. A Chicago area sports scribe once described a five-star recruit as being able to “pass into the future.” A pass seemingly to no one suddenly was in the hands of a teammate who appeared to have come out of nowhere. …
“Bo’s passing was the best I ever saw, and I have seen a lot of them. It was almost magical to watch, especially on the fast break. I still have never seen anything like it,” Kessinger recalled. “It didn’t matter whether it was a short court, middle or long. He already knew how it was gonna be. The player would be down the court and the pass would hit the floor, bounce up just perfectly and sometimes it seemed to wait on the kid to catch up.”
A standout at nearby Byng High School, Kessinger played basketball at ECU, then went into coaching. At his alma mater, 1965-70, his team won a state championship the final year before he went into administration. He retired in 1992 and served a number of years as radio personality the Big Fella on KADA before joining the Citizens Bank team in the marketing department.