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State title comes in Treadway's Happy Valley coaching finale

Jamie Combs • Mar 18, 2020 at 12:00 PM

In the TSSAA’s sands of time, the 1949-50 Happy Valley boys basketball team formed its own oasis.

It’s a season that climaxed with the fourth-ranked Warriors knocking off No. 1 Knox High 34-26 to capture the program’s first of two state titles. Occurring 70 years ago to the day, the victory wrapped up a 36-3 campaign and turned out to be coach John Treadway’s final game on Happy Valley’s bench.

The championship is the crown jewel in the 42-year career of Treadway, who followed up a 19-year reign at HV with a 23-season run at Elizabethton. Coaching in six different decades — 1929 through 1973, minus two one-year breaks in the ’30s — he rang up well over 800 wins and qualified for seven state tournaments, five of those with the Warriors.

“I finally got to the top, and I’m proud of these boys,” Treadway told reporters after his team toppled the Trojans.

His second-best state tournament showing coincided with his first appearance, when the Warriors reached the 1941 title tilt. Knox High supplied the opposition for that one as well, emerging a 46-22 winner.

The Trojans, however, couldn’t deny Happy Valley on March 18, 1950. Jack Edens fired in 13 points and Ted Maxwell totaled nine for the Warriors, who proved their mettle by outscoring Knox High 14-5 in the fourth quarter.

Both teams hit less than 30 percent of their attempts from the field, but the Warriors sank 10 of 18 free throws while Knox High, which finished with a 28-4 record, went 4 of 8.

During his postgame chat with the media, Treadway was asked how he felt about what had just transpired.

“How do you think I feel? I feel wonderful,” he replied. “Nothing like this has ever happened to me. It’s what I’ve always wanted, but now that it’s here I am kind a stunned — you know what I mean — like I had just inherited a million dollars, tax free.”

The tournament was played at the University of Tennessee, where the Warriors opened with a 46-35 quarterfinal conquest of Springfield. Good on 53 percent (17 of 32) of its field-goal attempts, Happy Valley crafted a 12-of-15 effort from the charity stripe and garnered a combined 30 points from Maxwell (11), Monta Clark (10) and Edens (9).

From there came a 14-point Pat Ellis performance and 47-40 semifinal triumph over Lawrenceburg. Clark and Edens contributed 13 and 10 points, respectively.

Named most valuable player, Clark was joined by Edens and Ellis, both second-team selections, on the all-tournament squad.

Also voted MVP of the District 2 and East Tennessee Regional tournaments, Clark attracted All-Southern and all-state (first team) recognition for his season-long work. Edens, whose 10.3 scoring average led Happy Valley, gained the nod as a third-team all-stater.

Paul Whitehead was a go-to player for the Warriors, whose win total remains the school’s highest on record. Kenneth Meredith, Max Campbell and Bill Swatzell were part of the central cast while Paul Cochran, Richard Tittle and Gene Gouge all played in 20 or more games.

TREADWAY CONNECTION

Under the direction of coach Charlie Bayless, Happy Valley’s second state title (Class S) closed the lid on the 1973-74 season.

Bayless was a key player on Treadway’s first two state qualifiers (1941, 1942).

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