Enshrinement: Greg Garton

Greg Garton still remembers the very first basketball goals in his life – one that fell out of his dad’s truck on the way home from the store (it was fixed), and another in the driveway when he was in fourth grade.

Man, he wore those out.

“My father always worked with me,” Garton said. “I can remember him asking me almost daily when he got home from work, ‘How much did you shoot today?’”

From there grew a love for the game, and Garton went on to be make a name for himself in the sport, first as a player and then as a coach and administrator. And it’s why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is proud to induct Garton with the Class of 2023.

Overall, Garton spent 40 years at Republic Schools, either as a student, coach or administrator. As an athlete, he was First Team All-State in basketball in 1982 after averaging 25 points and nine rebounds a game. He played in four state tournaments and led the Tigers to a state runner-up finish in 1980. He received the most votes for the 1982 All-Ozarks team and was named to the Springfield News-Leader’s All-1980s team.

At Missouri Southern State University, he remains the all-time leading scorer in program history (2,140 points) and it’s best free-throw shooter (88.5 percent) in a career that saw him earn NAIA All-American honors in 1985 and 1986. Garton also is fifth all-time with 585 rebounds. In an overtime loss to the Texas Longhorns, he scored 33 points.

Garton went on to coach nine seasons, first at Pierce City and then three seasons at Clever, where he had two 28-win seasons with conference and district titles and finished ranked second in the state. In coaching Republic’s boys for five seasons, his teams won a conference championship and two district championships.

“I never coached a game that I didn’t believe we could somehow win even if we were large underdogs. I believe my attention to every detail helped me stand out as a coach,” Garton said. “My teams practiced very hard every day with very physical practices. My teams were always very physical and were in great shape. My father, Jerry, and Chuck (Williams at Missouri Southern) were old-school coaches. When I played at Republic and Missouri Southern, we worked hard with tough practices. I stressed tough defense and all my teams worked to share the ball offensively.”

Overall, it’s probably not surprising that basketball took root.

When he arrived at Republic High School for his freshman season, Garton’s game was more developed than that of others. He played some off the bench on varsity that season, and as a sophomore, helped the team to the Final Four.

Garton averaged more than 20 points and 10 rebounds in three seasons, and holds the second-highest single-game scoring total (54 points) in school history.

“Coach (Jerry) Buescher always demanded a lot out of me because he had high expectations for me,” Garton said. “Having individual and team success gave me the confidence that I could be a great player.”

At Missouri Southern, he scored at least 32 points some 10 times.

“I believe Coach Williams, who was a legend at Buffalo High School and Southwest Missouri State, saw a lot of himself in me,” said Garton, who paid attention to details, such as free-throw shooting. “I was very aggressive, tough and competitive. I was the type of player who wanted to win every drill and competition.”

As a coach, Garton’s teams succeeded. In 1993, Republic finished 27-3, with the Tigers achieving two 30-year milestones – its most wins and first Blue & Gold Tournament championship. Garton himself had played in two Blue & Gold championship games.

During his tenue as AD, Republic won two boys state basketball championships and two girls state basketball championships. Ten Republic teams reached the Final Four, including softball, volleyball, boys golf and boys soccer making their first appearances in school history.

Garton also helped oversee the construction of Republic’s new high school, and was part of the design and construction team for the new football stadium.

Even better, he had the support of his wife, Janetta, and daughter, Makenna. He also counts his parents, John & Jan, along with Buescher and Williams and principal Vicki Neal as mentors.

More so, players and assistants who put in the work share in this honor.

“I believe sports and activities help students learn the value of hard work and teamwork,” Garton said. “It is almost impossible to be highly successful without both.”