Year after year, Bill Pierce has had a front row seat for Central Valley High School’s basketball games.
The 68-year-old has been the official scorekeeper for three decades, following the boys and girls teams through intense rivalries and state tournaments. Last month, the school inducted him into the Wall of Fame that also honors great players, coaches and teams.
“I was a little embarrassed, to tell you the truth, when they nominated me,” Pierce said. “They’ve done the blood, sweat and tears and I’ve just pushed a pencil around.”
Scribbles in a notebook amount to a collection of digital documents highlighting rosters, scores and statistics, but the numbers mean more. Pierce, who graduated from CV in 1962, has watched players graduate and start their own families and a new generation of players.
“It’s just that kind of community that you see toddlers grow up,” Pierce said.
Toddlers like Austin Rehkow, who used to shoot hoops before the girls practice, coached by his father, Freddie Rehkow, Pierce said. Now he’s a graduating senior on the boys team.
This is the fifth year CV has been adding to its Wall of Fame. Pierce’s name is posted along with 29 other individuals and four teams.
The program was begun in 2008 to recognize groups and individuals who have had tremendous success in their careers, CV activities director Butch Walter said, and also to recognize a member of the community who has given a good deal back to the school.
Pierce scored more than 50 games last year, including the road to the state championship for both the boys and girls teams.
Scoring basketball was not his retirement plan, but after 20 years as a Spokane County Assessor’s Office appraiser, he developed a knack for numbers that came in handy as a scorekeeper.
His trove of statistics dates back to the 1920s when CV basketball players took over the Al Sommer barn and its loft on game day. That information comes in handy at the end of modern seasons, when he hands the coach his score book and compares today’s rankings with teams of the past.
Pierce wonders: “These guys did really great this year, but how did they match up the year before or with the guys and gals?
Pierce said of his love of numbers: “Maybe it’s a character flaw.”
That diligence helped him get the score keeping gig in the first place. In 1983, he chased down former girls basketball coach Jack Blair who Pierce says had issues keeping a regular scorekeeper.
Pierce offered his services and just before the next game, he received a call.
“It’s just one of those casual moments that turned into a 30-year career,” Pierce said.
Walter described Pierce as a perfectionist whose knowledge of statistics is respected throughout the league.
“Bill’s there every year for basketball and he has that historical perspective at the table,” Walter said. “He’s a real lifesaver when it comes to basketball season for us.”
Scorekeeping has its challenges – especially as the game heats up and players and referees clog the view.
Pierce recalls a fumble that nearly cost his team’s win against Ferris High School.
He had his eyes in his score book for a moment after Ferris scored, but he missed his home team scoring two points. By the time Pierce and Ferris’ scorekeeper noticed the discrepancy a few minutes later, the referee said it was too late, Pierce said.
“That’s the only basket I’ve missed in all the 30 years,” Pierce said.
Despite the grievance, the Bears earned their two points back later in the game and won.
But now, Pierce said, “I’ve been doing it so long, when the dust kind of clears, I can figure it out.”
Pierce hopes to keep at his job for as long as the school will have him.
“I’m doing this through CV’s good graces and its coaches. I’m glad they let me do it for as long as I’ve had,” Pierce said. “As long as I keep my health and keep on focusing on what I’m doing.”
Even if he stopped being their scorekeeper, Pierce said he will continue to stop by the games and root for the Bears.