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Tuesday, July 20, 1999

Volleyball girls getting summer lessons

PECOS, July 20, 1999 -- Pecos Eagle eighth and ninth grade girls were in the second day of their five-day volleyball clinic this morning and afternoon at the Pecos High School gym, with the first day of pre-season practice for freshmen through senior players set for two weeks from Wednesday.

Seventh graders participated in their clinic last week, with just over a dozen girls involved. Eagles' coach Becky Granado said the numbers are up a bit this week with the older girls.

"We had 17 ninth grade girls yesterday, and we've got a few more (eighth graders) showing up today," she said. There were 17 girls at the gym this morning, five more than on Monday.

As far as the number signed up for the start of workouts on Aug. 4, Granado said there are currently 98 girls registered to participate in grades 9-12, with 60 of those on the freshmen level.

Workout equipment will be handed out on Aug. 3, Granado said. Seniors will pick up their equipment at 9 a.m., juniors at 10 a.m., sophomores at 11 a.m. and freshmen at 1:30 p.m.

Hobbs hoop coach Tasker dies

HOBBS, N.M. (AP) Ralph Tasker, one of the winningest and most revered coaches in high school basketball history, has died following a battle with cancer. He was 80.

Tasker, who had his final birthday just four days before his death at home Monday, was fighting pneumonia at the end, said longtime friend and assistant Don Abbott of Farmington, who drove to the Tasker home Sunday to be with the coach.

When he retired in 1998, Tasker had the third-best high school coaching record in history.

"He basically changed the way the game of basketball was played," said Abbott, who had known Tasker since playing for him at Hobbs High School in the mid-1950s.

"He made better coaches out of all his opponents because of his ability to get the best out of them as well as out of his own teams. He is well respected all over not only among high school coaches, but college coaches have used some of his innovations," Abbott said.

And Tasker had a personal touch that fostered devotion in his players. Ross Black was a junior in 1949 when Tasker coached Lovington to a state championship.

"He was the ultimate in commitment and dedication, not only to the game, but in particular to the players," Black said by phone from his Lovington home.

"I came from a broken home," Black said. "A lot of people find a way to go bad in those circumstances. I was headed that way until I met Ralph Tasker."

Tasker's teams were best known for their defense, especially the full-court press, which forced countless turnovers and fueled the famous Hobbs fast break.

Russ Gilmore, who became the Hobbs basketball coach in May 1998 when Tasker retired, said he had heard of Tasker's Eagles when he was a child growing up in Kansas.

"It's because of him and what he built here, that's why I'm here," Gilmore said. "The tradition is so long and storied here, most of these kids want to grow up and be a Hobbs Eagle basketball player. It's just kind of expected."

Jim Hulsman, who coaches basketball at Albuquerque High School, says Tasker was the first to push New Mexico basketball into the limelight.

"New Mexico was virtually unknown basketballwise up until Ralph Tasker took that job at Hobbs," Hulsman said. "He started going into this type of press-type defense and the rest of the state had a hard time handling it. Tasker started putting stats on the board that you couldn't miss nationally."

It wasn't unusual for Tasker's teams to put more than 100 points on the scoreboard.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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