Former State Fair Community College men’s basketball coach Bill Barton will be inducted into the Region 16 Hall of Fame.
“It’s an honor, something I’m proud of,” he said.
Barton coached the Roadrunners for 35 years from 1970-2005, winning more than 600 games.
“It’s a lot different than it is now,” he said. “We didn’t have the money. We didn’t have the scholarships. We were only allowed two out-of-state players. Now that’s changed.”
When Barton was at State Fair, the Roadrunners played in the Ag Building on the Missouri State Fairgrounds.
“There were some rocking games in there, I mean exciting,” he said. “That thing seated 800 maybe, and there were times it was full and overcrowded. Moberly was our biggest rivalry.”
There were more junior colleges playing basketball in Missouri at the time, so many that for much of Barton’s tenure the region was split into east and west divisions. Often Barton wouldn’t have much money for recruiting.
“I got most of my kids through contacts,” Barton said. “I knew a lot of major college coaches and a lot of high school coaches. I made a lot of contacts because I’d been here so long and got players that way because we didn’t have the money to go out. We were blessed in that Kansas City had some pretty good basketball players. The Interscholastic League was very good.”
But to get those players Barton had to recruit against three Kansas City junior colleges — Penn Valley, Longview and Maple Woods.
“We lost some kids, but we had our share of them too,” he said.
Barton’s teams won regional titles in 1972 and 1976 and Barton was named Region 16 Coach of the Year both years. The 1976 team went 31-5.
Barton said his most talented team was one that did not reach the national tournament. In 1979 the Roadrunners led by Tim West, Willie Williams and Steve Wallace fell to Three Rivers in overtime in the Region 16 Final. Three Rivers went on to win the national title.
“We had all those guys and that was the most talented team we had,” Barton said. “If we could have kept all those kids, four of them left, if they had stayed another year we might have won it all. The year they beat us we lost West (to a broken hand). Three Rivers had a lot of depth and we had eight players.”
Over the years Barton coached 39 players who were named All-Region and five who took All-American honors.
Many of Barton’s players went on to play Division I basketball, including Orlando “Chuckie” Johnson at Creighton and Tyrone Davis, Will Scott and Aaron Collier at Kansas State.
Barton is now an assistant coach on Zach Vandevender’s girls basketball staff at Smith-Cotton High School.
The Region 16 Hall of Fame includes baseball players Albert Pujols and Mark Buerhle — who played baseball at Maple Woods and Jefferson, respectively — and former Phoenix Suns coach Cotton Fitzsimmons who began his coaching career at Moberly.
Barton is also a member of the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the SFCC Roadrunner Athletics Hall of Fame.