This may be the epitome of Jacky Payne as a high school basketball coach: In 1985, in his first meeting with the Marshfield Blue Jays, he pointed to the empty walls and flat said they would one day hoist their own banners.

“They probably thought I was crazy,” Payne said, explaining Marshfield hadn’t won much of anything in the prior years. “But you have to paint the picture.”

Truth be told, Payne painted a masterpiece and not just there in Webster County — or only with the whistle. Instead, his successes as both a player and coach are why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame proudly inducted Payne with the Class of 2018.

Overall, he was part of three Final Four teams – as a freshman varsity starter for the 1970 Skyline Tigers and then as coach of the 1987 and 1989 Marshfield Blue Jays – and also was the first person to win the Greenwood Blue and Gold Tournament both as a player and coach.

In his prep career as a rare four-year starter at Skyline, Payne scored 2,002 points, earned three All-State and News-Leader All-Ozarks selections – including first team as a junior and senior on both lists – and helped the Tigers to a 105-19 record. As a junior, he was the leading scorer of the 1971 Blue & Gold Tournament as Skyline won the Blue Division.

As a coach, he entered the 2018-2019 season with 569 wins and numerous conference and district championships. That covered time as the boys coach at St. James (Fall 1979 to March 1985), Marshfield (1985-1993), Lebanon (1993-2005), Stoutland (boys 2005-2008, girls 2014-2016) and Skyline (2008-2011).

This from an Ozarks native who grew up shooting baskets at a goal that his dad bolted to a chicken house on the family farm and, as eighth-grader, found inspiration from Skyline’s 31-win team that was a 1969 state runner-up.

“I thought, ‘I’m going to be right up there with them next year,’” Payne said. “I knew there were juniors and seniors ahead of me, but I never seemed to let it bother me. I had a good attitude and worked as hard as I could.”

Talk about formidable years. In eighth grade, former Buffalo High School state champion Chuck Williams taught him his jump shot. In practice, he said Skyline standout Ronnie Rush “used me like an old pair of shoes, to be honest … and made me better.’” And Skyline coach Bill Barton inspired him to become a coach.

“(Barton) connected with kids and worked you hard, and I decided I liked it,” Payne said. “I learned so much from him. He wasn’t afraid to play the kids that needed to be played. He didn’t play politics.”

Payne was a four-year starter in college, first at North Central Junior College and for Gary Filbert-coached Missouri Western University before earning his stripes in coaching.

At Marshfield, he was matched opposite several venerable coaches in the Central Ozark Conference, including future MSHOF inductees George Wilson (Willard) and Terry Writer (Ozark).

Marshfield won 90 games from December 1986 through 1989, with Payne’s 1987 and 1989 Marshfield teams reaching the Final Four after winning Blue & Gold Tournaments.

The 1987 team placed third at state after a one-point loss in the semifinals. The 1989 team finished 31-2, winning 21 consecutive before falling in the finals 54-49 to Charleston and future Missouri Tiger Lamont Frazier and coach Lennies McFerren (MSHOF 2016).

The 1987 surge came after No. 2 Ozark walloped No. 1 Marshfield by 19 points in the regular season, leading Payne to put together one of his best coaching jobs.

In practice the next day, he demanded 38 suicide drills and then told players to watch the game film – except that Payne popped in a VHS tape of “The Three Stooges” as a way to lighten the moment. Weeks later, Marshfield beat Ozark 61-60 in the state quarterfinals.

At each of his other stops, his teams won conference titles, and he also won district titles at Lebanon and Skyline, with Lebanon’s 1997 team reaching the state quarterfinals.

Payne credits many for his success: players, parents, administrators, assistants Chuck Blair and Ron Cummins, Filbert (for bringing him into leadership roles with the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association and Show-Me State Game) as well as his wife, Elana, and stepsons Clint and Seth. He has been inducted into the halls of fame for Trenton Juco and the MBCA.

“The biggest thrill you get,” Payne said, “is when you see the kids go on to be successful in society.”