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Micheal Mosley had a rich basketball past when he took over as Bloomington High School's head coach. Once a ball boy and later a player at Peoria Manual under legendary coach Dick Van Scyoc, Mosley sought to bring the values that were so entrenched in the Rams' program.

The cornerstones were a tireless work ethic and a commitment to the team concept.

A 1991 Manual grad, he also respected how good BHS had been on the Central Illinois basketball stage in the late 1980s and early 1990s. 

"We're just going to have to play hard and try to get the players to reflect what Bloomington has been in the past," Mosley said.

That was July 2011. Eight years later, as he walks away as coach, Mosley can hold his head high.

While he took extra steps during his 142-91 tenure to connect current Purple Raiders with successful ones from the past, the next BHS coach will not have to go as far back in time.

BHS placed third in the Class 3A State Tournament in 2017 and won two Big 12 Conference championships under Mosley. 

He established Manual-type rules and stood by them, occasionally at the expense of victories. Holding players accountable can be costly in the short term, but Mosley was willing to pay that price.

Applaud him for that.

Van Scyoc and Wayne McClain had neither the patience nor desire to "let things slide" at Manual in regard to player discipline and dedication. During his first season at BHS, Mosley was stunned when players occasionally would say, "I can't make it to practice today."

"I had never heard of that," he said later. "When you're on a team you come every day."

Mosley made that the expectation at BHS, arguably his most important victory during a first season in which the Raiders won only three times on the court.

That 3-26 campaign was difficult, but changing a culture often is. The next seven years included a lot more wins and a vast majority of players who understood and met Mosley's standards for commitment. Those who did not faced consequences and, before long, an ultimatum.

It is no coincidence that Mosley's most successful teams, the 25-7 squad of 2015-16 and 27-5 third-place state team of 2016-17, were driven by rock-solid leaders such as Ilijah Donnelly, Dazon Farris, Patrick Fisher and Colton Sandage.

They were tough, hard-nosed, fiercely competitive players in the Manual mode. They expected as much from themselves as their coach did. Coaching is easy when that happens, though it never really "just happens."

It didn't just happen in 1975, when BHS went to the Class AA Elite Eight with the likes of Bob Bender, Dave Pavlik and Joe Galvin. To drive that point home, Mosley set in motion what turned into a 40th anniversary reunion of that team in December 2015.

Mosley's players got to interact with one-time Raiders who had been where they sought to go. 

He also brought back former BHS all-stater Ron Curry in January 2017 for a special night. The Raiders advanced to state for the first time since 1975 a couple of months later.

Sadly, Curry died in October 2018, but the commitment he brought to the court every night lives on. It was the kind of competitiveness and inner drive Mosley preached during his time on the bench.

Those who bought in — and again, they far outnumbered the ones who did not — will be able to draw from that no matter where life takes them.

They were pushed by a man who continues to push himself. A security analyst at State Farm Insurance, Mosley is closing in on a dual Ph.D in computer science and decision management. That doesn't just happen either.

Mosley stayed true to himself and his beliefs from his first day at BHS to the last. It didn't always make things easy, but he's OK with that.

He can hold his head high and look himself in the mirror.

Contact Randy Kindred at (309) 820-3402. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_kindred

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Sports Editor

Sports editor for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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