Goulds part of winning tradition at Science Hill and Milligan

Tanner Cook • Jun 30, 2020 at 10:00 AM

In his basketball career, former Science Hill and Milligan guard Gabe Goulds always seemed to be part of a winning team.

Playing for some of the best Hilltopper teams in history under George Pitts, Goulds’ win/loss record was 139-13 and he helped lead the team to back-to-back Class AAA state titles in 1994 and 1995.

“The practices that we went through under Pitts were absolute wars, but we were well-conditioned for the games,” Goulds said. “Coach Pitts had a system that ran like a well-oiled machine and the games almost were easier than the practices.”

His honors go on and on, but he got noticed early on — named most promising underclassmen in 1994.

The ’Toppers won the prestigious Arby’s Classic in 1994 and 1996 and remain one of the last local team to win the tournament at Viking Hall. The last team was Mike Poe’s Science Hill team in 1999-2000.

“The Arby’s is still one of the most prestigious high school basketball tournaments around and the two years we won it, there were some good nationally-ranked teams there,” he said. “Back in those days, Viking Hall was packed and there weren’t many that were better. That Oak Hill game was electric and so were some of those games at the state tournament, but the Arby’s was a lot of fun.”

Playing for Milligan, Goulds continued his winning ways, compiling a 99-35 record with the Buffs in four years and earning a NAIA national ranking three times.

All of the team rankings were in the top 10 (sixth in 1999, fourth in 2000 and 10th in 2001).

“Playing for Coach (Tony) Wallingford was a little different,” Goulds said. “Off the court, they were polar opposites. But on the court, they were carbon copies of each other. They had the same goal in mind of winning and they had a certain way getting it done.”

Goulds again showed promise early on, being awarded freshman of the year in 1998 and going on to earn all-conference honors his next three seasons.

The Buffs were a tough out in Goulds’ junior and senior seasons, going unbeaten in the old Tennessee-Virginia Athletic Conference (TVAC) in 1999 and 2000. Milligan also won the conference tournament in 1999, earned a bid to the national tourney and reached the Sweet 16. The 1998-99 team was the first team in the history of the TVAC to go unbeaten, posting a record of 21-0 and was inducted into the Milligan Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006.

“That was probably one of the most memorable teams I’ve ever been a part of,” Goulds said. “There was a point in the season where we were down 11 points like five or six consecutive games at halftime and came back to win all of them. That was the only time that had ever happened in the history of the conference and it proved how much of a second-half team we were.”

In his senior year, Goulds and Co. reached the big dance again by winning the 2001 Appalachian Athletic Conference tournament.

Goulds wound up finishing at Milligan with 1,507 points, 793 assists and 328 rebounds.

“Out of all the games I’ve ever played in, that game against Oak Hill still stands out,” he said. “Freedom Hall was standing room only and it was a fantastic game. On the bus ride over from our shootaround at the high school, there were lines of people that welcomed us and made us feel like rock stars.”

Goulds’ father Greg and sister Kortney (Caldwell) are still involved with Science Hill athletics. Greg helps coach the Science Hill girls basketball and softball teams while Kortney also helps out with softball and is a teacher.

“It feels really good to have family still involved with the school,” he said. “They’re out there giving back to the kids and as much as dad tries to get away from it, he’s always drawn back to it. That shows the passion that both him and Kortney have for giving back.”

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