Southern Illinois basketball coaching legend Bob Dallas, 90, died Tuesday morning. A resident of rural Harrisburg, Dallas coached Ridgway (now Gallatin County) to the 1973 Class A state championship.

According to the Illinois High School Association’s website, Dallas is the 11th winningest coach in Illinois history. He racked up 772 victories while coaching at Ridgway from 1956 to 2002. Other sources credit Dallas with 782 wins, which would place him sixth.

Dallas was also a longtime baseball coach at Ridgway and later Gallatin County. He played baseball at Southern Illinois University in 1950.

“I thought he was a very good coach,” said former Benton coach Rich Herrin, a winner of 616 prep games. “He got a lot of mileage out of his talent, especially the time he won the state tournament. He had just the right amount of depth and they had a good point guard. I think everyone was a little surprised they won the state title. Dallas was a good basketball coach, or he wouldn’t have all those games.”

That Ridgway team finished the year 32-1. The Eagles defeated Maple Park Kaneland, 54-51, in the state title game; and knocked off Petersburg Porta and St. Anne in the quarterfinal and semifinal games.

“He had those big hands,” Herrin said. “When he slapped them you could hear them all over the gym.”

Amazingly, Herrin and Dallas only squared off once on the court — the 1977 sectional championship at Eldorado. Benton came out on top.

“We were undefeated at the time,” Herrin said. “They played us a very tough ballgame.”

Former Carlyle and Nashville coach Brad Weathers never coached against Dallas. However, Dallas was the referee in some games Weathers played.

“I just remember he was old-school hard-nosed,” Weathers said. “Those kids played extremely hard. He definitely had control. He was an outstanding official too. He reffed games I played in. Obviously, he scheduled it when Ridgway didn’t play.”

Funeral arrangements were not available at press time.

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Sports editor

Les Winkeler is sports editor and outdoors writer for The Southern Illinoisan.

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