MEADOWDALE BOYS BASKETBALL
WEBSITE BRINGS HISTORY TO LIFE
Aaron Lommers, Everett Herald - Sat July 2nd, 2016
LYNNWOOD — There are plenty of things men in their early to mid-20s can do with their spare time. Spending hundreds of hours at the public library analyzing basketball games from 50 years ago using microfilm and microfiche is not usually at the top of that list.
But not everyone has the same pride in community or the same work ethic that Meadowdale boys basketball coach Roger O’Neill and former Meadowdale assistant coach Paul Werner have.
After realizing that the Meadowdale boys basketball all-time record books were incomplete, O’Neill and Werner took on a project in the summer of 2014 to track down statistics from every Meadowdale game ever played. Two years later, they’ve nearly accomplished their goal.
The website, www.meadowdalehoops.com, went live earlier this year. Among other things, it tracks game-by-game progress throughout each season since the school opened in 1963, career scoring stats, single-season scoring stats and single-game scoring stats.
When O’Neill and Werner, who both also played at Meadowdale, were coaching JV together in 2014, a record board existed in the gymnasium, but it only tracked stats from 1999 when the school changed its name from Chiefs to Mavericks. O’Neill and Werner discussed tracking down a more in-depth history dating back to the year the school opened in 1963.
“We weren’t sure exactly what we were getting into, but we were like, ‘let’s get what we can and see if we can’t build something better,’” O’Neill said. “My first call was to Coach (Chad) McGuire, who we played for, to see if he had some of his old scorebooks, and he had some of them. It became kind of clear that scorebooks weren’t going to be the way to go to get a complete history of it all.”
O’Neill and Werner realized the best way to accomplish their goal would be to track down box scores and stories from every game ever played in the newspaper.
“I kind of said it jokingly, ‘we could go to the library and look up all the old archives,’” O’Neill said. “You’d have to know Paul, but that’s like the only person I could probably say that to and he would take it seriously. He was like, ‘yeah we could.’”
“One day I texted him and I was like, ‘let’s go to the library,’ expecting him to be say, ‘I’ve got to do this or I’ve got to do that.’ And he said, ‘alright, pick me up.’”
The Lynnwood public library had microfilm and microfiche copies of The Herald dating back to 1985, so the two went to work.
McGuire wasn’t surprised to see the duo take on such an extensive project.
“It’s pretty impressive,” McGuire said. “It doesn’t surprise me at all. Roger, he’s always been that way. He just gets really, really focused and he’s very intelligent. When you combine those two, you get things like that website.
“Paul is like Roger in a lot of ways,” McGuire added. “Paul loves hoops and he loves Meadowdale. I can see those two kind of feeding off of each other and putting it together and making it happen.”
O’Neill and Werner worked backwards from present day and got through about 30 years of games in their first year working on the project.
Then things became more challenging.
They moved their search to the Everett Public Library, which had records of The Herald from before 1985.
“We were definitely out of our element there,” O’Neill said. “There weren’t many 24-year-olds sitting at the microfilm table at the library on a summer day. But we’re kind of stat nerd guys. We kind of enjoyed it, and we’re friends, so we had a good time with it. We would actually find ourselves invested in a season that happened 35 years ago with no knowledge of what happened. I don’t know what that says about us.”
Once O’Neill and Werner had a system, most of the games proved to be easy to find and a season could be done in a matter of hours — but not all of the games.
What was the biggest challenge?
“Probably the desire to keep going,” O’Neill said with a laugh. “When you ran into a hiccup, early especially, and we couldn’t find the game, we were like, ‘what are we going to do? Are we just going to give up and how often is this going to happen in the future?’ It’s almost like taking the SAT’s, don’t dwell on that question, move on and come back to it and maybe you’ll find something else down the road that helps you get there.”
And most of the time, they did.
When O’Neill contacted Bill Hull, the son of Phil Hull, who was the first coach in Meadowdale history, it proved to be a breakthrough.
Bill Hull provided O’Neill with four scrapbooks his mother had made for his father, which had newspaper clippings from all of the early years of the program. Thanks to those books, O’Neill and Werner were able to eliminate the time of searching for those early years.
They came across the school-record holder for most points in a single game while tracking the 1973-74 season. Gary Morgan’s record of 38 points in Meadowdale’s second meeting of the season against Seattle Prep still stands today.
Morgan wasn’t known as a big-time scorer, but on Feb. 2, 1974, things just went his way.
“In the first game, I had been punched in the face by one of the opposing Seattle Prep guys,” Morgan said. “… All I could think about in this next game was getting my revenge. In the first quarter, one of my other teammates got into a scuffle with this guy and they both got tossed (from the game). From that time forward, I didn’t have to think about anything else and everything just kind of fell into place.”
Until O’Neill and Werner launched their website, Morgan wasn’t recognized publicly for his record, but he knew it was still intact.
“I knew it was still there,” Morgan said. “I’ve never left the area. I live in Briar and I read the sports pages all the time. I kind of keep track of, especially, Meadowdale basketball, even though all my kids go to Mountlake Terrace.”
While Morgan knew his record still stood, he was surprised to see so many other older Meadowdale alums still high on the all-time list. Of the seven top scoring games in school history, six were from 1978 or prior.
“I was kind of surprised that they held up all these years, especially after the 3-point shot was created,” Morgan said. “When I talk to people about still having this single-game scoring record, they always ask me, ‘did they have 3-point shots?’ And of course, back in the ‘70s, they didn’t. You would think all of the records now would be broken after the 3-point shot went into play.”
Morgan’s story was just one of many that came to life during the project. O’Neill said he and Werner would find themselves invested in seasons decades before they were born as they continued their research. By the time they were done, O’Neill and Werner had tracked down box scores from 1,131 of the 1,146 games played in Meadowdale’s history.
“Roger and I both have the foundation of high school basketball being a community-centered event,” Werner said. “There’s pride in playing for a high school team and representing the history of the school and representing the community around the school. We were hopeful that this thing would energize former players — and I think it did.
“I think a lot of people looking at the process were able to relive glory years, which is always fun,” he added. “That set off a positive reaction, which we anticipated. That’s something that we value as we look at the future of the program.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on Twitter at @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.