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Kibling to be inducted into NYS Basketball Hall of Fame

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Lew Kibling went on a routine fishing trip with a good friend about two years ago.

As the two long-time high school boys basketball coaches got talking, Kibling’s friend and old rival, former Cicero-North Syracuse coach John Unger, pitched the idea of nominating Kibling for a spot in the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame.

“I had never given that a thought,” said Kibling, a member of the Section 3 Hall of Fame who accumulated 332 victories in 33 years as a head coach at Lowville Academy and Watertown High School.

After some prodding from Unger, Kibling gave in, filled out the required paper work and didn’t think much of it until he opened up the Times on Sept. 29 last year and read that he was to be inducted.

“I was quite surprised, we’ll put it that way,” Kibling said.

Kibling, who now resides in Mannsville, is one of nine inductees to be honored Sunday in Heritage Hall at the Glens Falls Civic Center. He will join Tom Murphy of Belleville Henderson as the only Frontier League members in the prestigious club.

Kibling led Lowville to its only Section 3 title in 1964. He never reached a sectional final with the Cyclones, who, at that time, competed in a league with large Syracuse-area schools like Corcoran, Nottingham and Henninger, among others.

He also spent several seasons coaching cross country and baseball at both schools, as well as coaching baseball at Jefferson Community College.

For the last five years of Kibling’s coaching career, he racked up numerous league and playoff titles at Watertown High when the Frontier League was formed.

But to pick a highlight, Kibling said it’s impossible when scanning a career that lasted from 1956-89, including a year at Whitney Point, 12 at Lowville and 20 at Watertown High.

“You have a lot of special moments, a lot of big wins and a lot of heartbreaking losses,” Kibling said. “But you always pick yourself up and go to work the next day.”

Kibling said that he has been told by several former players and assistant coaches that they will be on hand for Sunday’s ceremony. That list includes people traveling from Florida, North Carolina, Maryland and Ohio.

“A lot of these young men, I haven’t seen in a long, long time,” Kibling said.

“I was lucky, and most coaches are lucky, to have great kids to work with and that’s what I had,” he added.

Kibling also said he benefited from having great parents in the Lowville and Watertown communities, along with hard-working “behind the scenes kids,” like scorekeepers or managers.

“I know they all did something right, I don’t know that it was anything I did,” Kibling said.

Kibling will also be joined on Sunday by his wife of 60 years, Ann, along with his two sons and two daughters — Steve, Lew, Sandy, and current Carthage girls lacrosse coach, Sue Gallagher.

“My most loyal supporter in my career was my wife Ann,” Kibling said. “You go through a lot of ups and downs, a lot of peaks and valleys (as a coach), and when I was down, she was always there for me.”

n Kibling passed the coaching bug down to his two daughters and several former players.

In addition to Sue’s success at Carthage, as both the girls lacrosse and tennis coach, his daughter Sandy started the girls lacrosse program at Skaneateles and coached volleyball at the school.

Former players that Kibling said moved onto coaching are: Jim Berkman, who won 10 national championships as men’s lacrosse coach at Division III Salisbury State; Bob Williams Jr., men’s basketball coach at West Virginia Tech University; Phil Gaffney, former men’s basketball coach at Mohawk Valley CC in Utica; Chad Kolb, former athletic director and baseball coach at Watertown High; and Eric Schofield, junior varsity basketball coach at Watertown High.

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