San Antonio – St. Mary’s legendary basketball player Robert Reid remembers taking the Rattlers’ court in the 1970s, looking up toward the stands and feeling the judging eyes of the crowd.
Particularly those of the former St. Mary’s ballplayers.
“When you were doing layups (before the game),” Reid recalled, “and you saw the older players coming in, it was like, ‘We better win. Because if we don’t, those players are going to be talking about us.'”
The modern-day Rattlers could certainly relate Saturday night.
Reid, a St. Mary’s Hall of Famer who enjoyed a 15-year NBA career, was one of those former players sitting in the stands as today’s players tried to impress their predecessors.
Playing in front of a mini-reunion of former Rattler basketball players, the current bunch didn’t disappoint, routing the University of St. Thomas 76-53 in a non-conference game at Bill Greehey Arena.
Kevin Kotzur (So., La Vernia, Texas), the reigning three-time Heartland Conference Player of the Week, led the way with 18 points and 11 rebounds on a flawless 8-for-8 shooting effort.
Three other Rattlers topped double digits, with Gordon Ward (Sr., Galveston, Texas) scoring 11, and Ray Marshall (Jr., El Paso, Texas) and Jeff Campbell (Jr., Allen, Texas) adding 10 apiece with nearly 40 former Rattlers in attendance.
“It’s nice to see them,” Kotzur said of playing before many Rattler greats, including the likes of Reid and Robert “Snake” LeGrand. “They provide a legacy that we have to build ourselves to. It helps the team concentrate a little bit more, get a little more hyped.”
St. Mary’s (12-7 overall) took a while to get going against St. Thomas (9-10), trailing by nine seven minutes into the game.
But the Rattlers didn’t panic, clawing back to take their first lead of the night when Campbell connected from 3-point range on a fast break with three minutes left in the half.
Campbell’s shot put St. Mary’s up 27-26, and though they would trail 34-32 at the break, it would spark what would prove an exciting second half.
It was Campbell again hitting from long range to give the Rattlers a 46-40 lead with 12:41 remaining, an advantage that would swell to double figures over the next six minutes.
St. Mary’s then closed out the game on a 22-3 run.
The Rattlers outrebounded their opponent 36-22 and outshot them 56-38 percent.
In just two minutes on the court, sharp-shooting Johnny Hutton (Fr., Modesto, Calif.) scored seven points on 3-for-3 shooting.
St. Mary’s will resume conference action at the University of Texas-Permian Basin at 8 p.m. on Feb. 3.