Players return to honor Lewis Orr at Classic Friday

Eight Bulldog basketball players (1976-78) from coach Lewis Orr’s first teams here honored their NJCAA Hall of Fame Coach with their presence Friday.

The players were introduced at halftime of the Navarro-McLennan game Friday at the Lewis Orr Classic.

The eight included Jeff Smallwood, Dennis Johnson and Joe Babineaux (1976), Charles Hale, Rudy Williams, Greg Lowe and Jeff Foreman (1977) and Daryl Fields (1978).

Smallwood, the captain of the 1976 Bulldogs, spoke on behalf of the group.

Lewis Orr“We would like to thank you for being our inspiration and sending us all in the right path,” Smallwood said.  “…We want to express our thanks and love to you for all you have done for us, for Navarro College, for Corsicana, and for everyone you have reached.”

Orr coached junior college basketball 37 years — 5 at Lon Morris College in Jacksonville before coming to Navarro College for the final 32 years.  He ranks third among Texas Junior College men’s basketball coaches in career wins, behind only TVCC’s Leon Spencer and Tyler’s Floyd Wagstaff.

Orr coached 1099 games and compiled a 678-421 record.  He was inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame the same year that Johnny Estelle led the Bulldogs into their first-ever NJCAA National Tournament appearance.

Orr completed his tenure at No. 16 in NJCAA basketball coaching victories. His teams won or shared six conference titles and reached Region XIV Zone and Conference Tournaments a total of 21 times.  His last two teams here played in the Region XIV Championship games against Lon Morris and Paris, losing the games by a combined three points.

Orr’s teams reached Region XIV Zone, Conference or State Junior College Tournament Championship games seven times.  He coached teams to .500 or better winning percentages 25 seasons.

His 1978-79 Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 in the nation, winning 25 game consecutively and eventually lost in a bi-regional playoff to NJCAA National Champion Western Texas and legendary coach Nolan Richardson. Orr’s 1990 Bulldogs were the highest-scoring team in the NJCAA, averaging 116 points per game.