Over the three years that Dave Koesters spent playing basketball at West Springfield, the Spartans went 72-6. The 1974 graduate led the team to three straight region titles and two state championship games before heading to the University of Virginia.
Those who remember Koesters on the court talk about his shooting ability with reverence. "He was an assassin shooting the ball," said Red Jenkins, a coach of almost 40 years at Woodson and Paul VI. He said Woodson usually found a way to defeat the Spartans, but that changed with Koester's arrival at West Springfield. "We couldn't beat them to save our soul," said Jenkins.
The shooting guard who graduated more than 30 years ago still has his name in the high school's basketball record pages. He led the Spartans to three regional championships. Koesters is second in career points in the school's history, scoring 1,458 points over the three seasons. In his senior year, he averaged 23.5 points per game. He also helped his teams leave an impression on the school's record books. The Spartan team of the 1973-74 season - Koesters's senior year - holds the record for most points in a game, 122 against Washington-Lee. That same team is the record holder for points per game (86.2), field goals in a single season (223), most points in a season (582) and they scored 90 or more points in eight games, and 100 or more points in three games.
"He was just a tremendous shooter," said West Springfield basketball coach Dick Wickline. "He might have had the best shot of anyone who ever came from the area."
Koester's junior year, 1972-73, the team won 25 games, which is the most games won in a single season. Ironically, that was the year West Springfield did not make the state final game.
IN 1972, the Spartans became the first Fairfax County team to reach the basketball state final. The Alexandria Gazette report from the semifinal game said Koesters carried the Spartans to the final. "Koesters, the sharp-shooting sophomore, turned into a one-man wrecking crew in the last half of last night's game between West Springfield and George Washington of Danville, and because of him, the Spartans are playing for the state championship tonight," (Alexandria Gazette Packet, March, 1972).
The Spartans dropped the final game to Hopewell, 63-55. Koesters scored the team-high 20 points.
Two years later West Springfield returned to the title game. They faced the defending champions Petersburg, who had a senior by the name of Moses Malone who averaged 35.84 points per game that season. The Spartans came close, but could not prevail. Petersburg came out on top to win the game 50-48. That would be the last time the Spartans would get a chance at the state title, and the last time Koesters would terrorize high school defenses with his shooting.
JENKINS SAID Koesters was not a quick player. He was a very good high school player, and coach Don McCool used all of Koester's potential to make him a threat. "[Koesters] wasn't terribly athletic, but he could shoot the fire out of it," said Jenkins. He added that Koesters shot close to 60 percent from the floor.
In December of 1992, The Connection came out with its basketball Dream Team, and placed Koesters on the first team as a shooting guard. The former basketball coach of Madison High School, George McLean, said at the time: "He always seemed to be there when it counted to put the ball in the hole."
While he starred in basketball, Koesters was also a stud baseball player. He played for the Spartans in the outfield and pitched the ball at almost 90 miles per hour. "He was a big time Division 1 athlete," said former West Springfield baseball coach Ron Tugwell.
KOESTERS CHOSE to play basketball at the University of Virginia. He seemed to come big for the Cavaliers in the big games. As a freshman in 1975, Koesters iced a win for Virginia over perennial power North Carolina. In a closely contested game in which neither team could get ahead by more than four points, Koesters made three of four free throws to earn the 65-62 win for the Cavaliers. The loss knocked North Carolina out of contention for the ACC regular season title.
Koesters also came up big for the Cavaliers in 1978, his senior year, when he nailed a long-range jump-shot with 20 seconds to go in the game against Duke. Virginia won the game 74-73, upsetting the eventual NCAA runner-ups.
— Additional reporting by Rich Sanders
Dave Koesters is 34 in a survey of the area's Top 100 Athletes by Connection Newspapers in 2000.