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RMC Hall of Fame Weekend: Mark Adams recalls men's basketball turning point

RMC Mark Adams.jpg
Posted at 4:53 PM, Sep 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-21 01:26:09-04

BILLINGS - Mark Adams remembers the moment.

It was a tournament game in 1985 for a trip to the NAIA National Tournament.

"Coming off those 18 consecutive losing seasons, and there was a play in the Sioux Falls game," Adams recalled, "...it was a back and forth game, where we were up one, up three, down one, and finally, we have the ball with a five point lead with a minute and a half to go."

"I put up my fist for what we call our P play, it was our backdoor lob play to John Bush. And I think it's the most important pass in the history of college basketball, when Scott Wilson let it fly, and John Bush went back screen from Rusty Marshal and he slammed it home - and the Fortin Center erupted."

Adams calls that the turning point for men's basketball at Rocky.

"I think that was the foundation of the National Championship in 2009. I don't get any credit for it," he laughed, "...but we'll take credit for that foundation - because Rocky basketball has never been the same since that 1985 night. It's been competitive, championship level basketball for all these decades now. And you can bet those 50-year-old men, and they'll be in attendance tonight (at the Hall of Fame banquet), along with their 63-year old coach - will remember that play and I will remind the 2009 team of that moment in time."

Adams' entire interview can be seen on MTN Stations across Montana a week from Sunday, Sept. 29, at 6:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.

Rocky's Homecoming Weekend opens Friday night at the Pub Station in Billings with 2019 Hall of Fame Weekend inductions. This year's class includes Rocky's men's basketball national championship team from 2009, former men's basketball player Jake Stuart, longtime coach Paul Edwards, women's soccer player Jeannie McGonagle and Adams.

Adams served as head men’s basketball coach from 1982-85. He helped guide the Battlin’ Bears (23-9) to the 1985 NAIA District 12 championship, and a NAIA national tournament berth. Rocky had suffered through 17 consecutive losing seasons prior to his arrival. It was the first trip to Kansas City for the Battlin’ Bears since 1951. Adams served as a college basketball coach for 17 years, 10 at the NCAA Division I level. His teams won two championships (1985, 1989) earning him Coach of the Year honors. Adams is currently a nationally respected college basketball commentator in his 20th season broadcasting college basketball games. He appears regularly on ESPN.

Edwards, a 1966 graduate, was a member of Rocky’s men’s golf team for four years. After graduation, he embarked on a 31-year teaching and coaching career in Montana. As head coach at Columbus High School, Edwards guided the Cougars to five Class B state golf championships (1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997). As the assistant coach, Edwards helped lead Columbus to three state football championships (1976, 1980, and 1992) and one state boy’s basketball title (1977). Edwards was also recently inducted into the Montana Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

McGonagle, a 2006 graduate, was a member of Rocky women’s soccer team from 2002-05. She earned the program’s first All-American award in 2005 after leading the Battlin’ Bears to their first winning season in program history (10-6-1). During the 2002 season, McGonagle scored the winning goal in a 3-2 victory over Lethbridge University to give Rocky’s current head coach, Richard Duffy, his first collegiate win. During her Rocky career, the 5-foot-11-inch central defender amassed 77 career points, scoring 28 goals with 21 assists.

Stuart, a 2004 graduate, was a member of Rocky’s men’s basketball team from 2001-04. Stuart received NAIA All-America honors in 2004 and was a two-time All-Frontier Conference performer. He helped lead the Battlin’ Bears to two straight NAIA national tournament appearances in 2002 and 2003. During his three-year career as a Battlin’ Bear, the 6-foot-3-inch guard and two-time team captain accumulated nearly 1,400 points and 441 rebounds.

The 2008-09 Rocky Mountain College men’s basketball team made school history by winning the 2009 NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship. Under Rocky’s current head men’s basketball coach, Bill Dreikosen, the Battlin’ Bears beat Columbia College 77-61 to claim Montana’s first and only NAIA Division I men’s basketball national title.

Recipients of the 2019 William “Bill” Woolston Distinguished Service Award are Rick Reid and his chain crew, who have volunteered time and efforts at Battlin’ Bears’ football games for the past 16 years. The crew includes Kerry Norris, Dan Saunders, Gary Paulson, Glenn Hufnagel, Laurie Hufnagel, Daryl Weisz, and Craig Paulson.