Four individuals and one team whose athletic exploits spanned eight decades have been selected for induction to the University of Arkansas at Monticello Sports Hall of Fame.
Football quarterback and high school coaching icon, the late Clarence “Sonny” Gordon, football All-American Herbert Lewis, women’s basketball All-American Regina Wright, do-it-all quarterback Scott Buisson and the 1990 Cotton Blossoms basketball team comprise the induction class of 2018.
An induction banquet will be held October 18 at 6 p.m. in the John F. Gibson University Center. Tickets are $35 and may be purchased by calling the Department of Athletics at (870) 460-1058. All proceeds go to the UAM Sports Association.
The late Sonny Gordon was a high school coaching legend at Holly Grove, but before he became a coach, he was one of the most decorated football players in UAM history. Gordon became the second Boll Weevil player to earn all-conference honors when he was named to the All-Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference team as a freshman. It was the first of four consecutive all-conference honors for Gordon, who played for three different head coaches in four years. Gordon played his freshman and sophomore years for Foy Hammons, the first coach in school history to post a winning record. He played the 1934 season under Stewart Ferguson, who five years later would gain notoriety as the creator of the “Wandering Weevils.” Gordon completed his playing career in 1935 under Eugene “Bo” Sherman.
A Holly Grove native, Gordon led his hometown to a dozen district championships in both football and basketball. His 1976 boys basketball team won the Class AA state championship before reaching the finals of the overall championship tournament. Over a two-year stretch in the 1960s, Holly Grove won 21 straight football games. He was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1984 and to the Arkansas High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1996.
Herbert Lewis became the first African-American football player in UAM history to earn All-America honors when he was named an NAIA Division I Honorable Mention All-American following the 1975 season.
A defensive end, Lewis lettered four years, started three, and was a two-time first team All-Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference selection in 1974-75, a remarkable achievement for a player on a team that won a combined five games in two seasons. Lewis finished his UAM career with 359 tackles, 231 unassisted. In 1974, he led the Weevils with 109 tackles, 67 solo, and had 142 tackles as a senior, 96 unassisted.
Regina Wright made the most of her two seasons at UAM after transferring from junior college. A physical, talented forward, Wright earned first team NAIA Division I All-America honors as well as Honorable Mention All-America recognition from Kodak, which included NCAA Division II and III schools as well as the NAIA. For her career, Wright scored 740 points and averaged 17.2 points a game, had 207 assists and 197 steals. As a junior, she averaged 16.6 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 51.3 percent from the field. As a senior, she improved to 17.5 points a game while pulling down 6.8 rebounds.
In 1993, Wright led the Cotton Blossoms to a 25-10 record, the AIC championship and a berth in the NAIA Division I National Tournament.
Scott Buisson was a four-year starter at quarterback from 2007-10 and one of the most exciting and prolific players in school history. Buisson debuted by winning Gulf South Conference Freshman of the Year honors in 2007. He was the GSC Offensive Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2008 and a regional semifinalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy, the Division II equivalent of the Heisman.
When Buisson completed his four-year career, he held school records for career total offense (12,514 yards), career total plays (1,946), total touchdowns (97), career 300-yard total offense games (20), career pass attempts (1,330), career pass completions (763), career passing yards (9,616), and career touchdowns passing (73). He also set the record (since broken) for total offense in a single game with 640 yards vs. Henderson State in 2008.
The 1990 Cotton Blossoms basketball team becomes the second team honored by the UA Sports Hall of Fame, joining the 1956 men’s basketball team, winners of the school’s first conference basketball title.
The 1990 Blossoms were arguably the best team in school history, regardless of sport. UAM blew through the season with a 34-3 record that ended in the championship game of the NAIA Division I National Tournament, where the Blossoms’ dream of a national title ended at the hands of Southwestern Oklahoma.
Led by Tina Webb and Rose Avery, a pair of wondrously talented first team All-American forwards, the Blossoms averaged 100 points a game, defeated their opposition by an average of more than 25 points a game, won the AIC championship and defeated their archrival, Arkansas Tech, in resounding fashion, 87-65 in the finals of the NAIA District 17 tournament. In addition to Webb and Avery, the 1990 Blossoms boasted one of the of best three-point shooters in the nation in Susan Pemberton and three, slick, tenacious guards in Brenda Rhodes, Kim Turner and Elisha Ramer.
Other members of the team were Christine Kendall, Terrie Hinson-Sossamon, Katherine Avery, Ericka Walter, Wendi Gregory and Kathy Rowland. Team managers were Michele Ridgell-Reese and Deanna Patillo Klaus.