There was nothing extraordinary about the game itself — Lakeview Academy rolled to a 67-45 win over Social Circle — but Tuesday night was special for those in attendance Tuesday night at Walters Athletic Center in Gainesville.
Seth Vining, coach of Lakeview Academy, achieved his 700th win in a career that has spanned 36 seasons, the past seven of which have been with the Lions.
Vining’s record now stands at 700-280. Former Gainesville High coach Jerry Davis also won his 700th game in 2008.
“It’s special, because it’s a milestone in a career that’s been a great career and I’m appreciative of all the people that have helped me, Vining said. “I’m glad it happened here (at a home game), because a lot of people were able to be here to be a part of it.
“It’s always good to play at home.”
When the final buzzer sounded, players, coaches and fans celebrated on the court, and T-shirts donning the number “700” and Vining’s name circulated through the gymnasium. Vining was honored over the PA system by Lakeview principal John Kennedy and Lions athletic director Deuce Roark before taking the microphone and thanking all who helped him reach the milestone.
A special “700” cake was presented to the players and coaches as well.
“I think, for the majority of the people (in attendance), this is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Roark said. “There’s not many times you can go through the records in the state of Georgia or even nationally and find someone with 700 wins.
“As for the school, it’s just an honor to have a man like that coaching at the school and with your kids.”
Vining’s son, Adam Vining, who played for his father from 1993-’96 when Seth coached at East Hall, was on hand for the game.
“I’m just proud of my father,” Adam said. “He has a great passion for what he does. He’s not only a great coach, but a great father and grandfather as well. I’m excited for him and my mother (Seth’s wife, Cathy Vining, who was also in attendance). My mom has been very supportive to him throughout the years, and this is really a great milestone and I hope he continues to coach for as long as he can, and as long as he has the passion for it.”
Numerous other former players were in attendance to witness Vining’s 700th win.
Sylvia Akers played for East Hall from ‘76-‘80 when Vining coached the Lady Vikings. She was a member of two of Vining’s four state title-winning teams (‘79,‘80).
“I tell him all the time he’s my living legend,” said Akers, who later was an assistant on Vining’s staff from ‘94-’96 when he coached East Hall’s boys team. “Just in terms of him making you do the right thing on and off the floor, to be a good person, make good decisions and be a team player — those are some of the things I’ve learned from him. And his philosophy hasn’t changed in the 30-something years he’s been coaching.
“He always tries to be there for us (former players) even though we don’t play for him anymore. If something is going on in our lives, or with our family, he’s going to call and make sure we’re OK.”
Added Haughton Carswell, who played for the Lions from ‘06-’09, “When you’re playing for him, he loves on you and he definitely cares for all of his players. It’s great to experience this with him and to be here to congratulate him on all his hard work and success.”
Austin Pearson opened the scoring with a 3-pointer for Lakeview, and the Lions (10-9) never trailed the Redskins (5-11). They took a 33-19 lead into halftime by hitting five 3-pointers and 10 free throws.
Lakeview further built its lead in the third quarter, which ended with a Matt Askounis steal and lob pass to Knox Roberts, who nailed a 14-foot floater as time expired to give the Lions a 53-32 lead — their largest of the game to that point.
Derek Fadool’s second 3-pointer of the game expanded Lakeview’s lead to 60-37 with 4:27 remaining.
“This is a great win for us,” said Pearson, a junior who led the Lions with 14 points. “We put this one in front of any other games we’ve played this season.
“We were aware of (Vining approaching 700) over the summer, but we didn’t really think about it until two days ago. (Vining) looked at this game just like any other we’d play, so that’s why we came out here and won without any pressure.”
Jackson Wells and Austin Montgomery scored 11 points, and Fadool added eight for Lakeview.
Darius Still of Social Circle led all scorers with 21 points.
Vining now begins his quest toward win No. 800, which begins Friday night at 8:30 in a road game against Athens Christian.
“One game at a time,” said Vining with a laugh. “Six years ago when I got to 600, I had no idea I’d be here for 700. So I’m just thankful for the opportunity, and it’s been a lot of fun.”