One of Minnesota's top boys basketball coaches Jim Hastings, who headed the Duluth Central Trojans from 1955 to 1986, passed away last Saturday at the age of 90.
Hastings, a graduate of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, began his coaching career in Mandan, ND in 1950. He coached in Jamestown from 1952 to 1955 before returning to the Twin Ports area to coach Duluth Central.
Under Hastings' leadership, he has coached nine state tournament teams, compiling a record of 21-7. The Trojans won state championships in 1961, 1971 and 1979 and finished second in 1969, 1977 and 1986.
The 1961 team was the only Duluth Central team that won the then one class state tournament. Among the players Hastings mentored Roger Hanson, Chet Anderson, who would play one season in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers and a fellow who would later play for the Gophers, the ABA's Minnesota Muskies and coach the Minnesota Fillies in the Women's Basketball League, Terry Kunze.
Ten years after Hastings won his first title, he would lead the Trojans into the first two class tournament in 1971. Duluth Central would be the answer to a trivia question as they became the first team to win the Class AA championship and also the playoff against the Class A champion, Melrose. Back then, the two class champions would play for the overall state title. The playoff game ended in 1975.
Hastings final state Class AA championship was in 1979, led by co-Mr. Basketball Greg Downing, who would later play at Nebraska. The other Mr. Basketball winner was Lake City's Randy Breuer.
Hastings retired from coaching after losing to Bloomington Jefferson in the 1986 state Class AA championship game. He would end his 36 year coaching career with a record of 543-236. But he will be remembered for coaching outstanding Duluth Central teams that had the word "Troy" on the front of their uniforms.