Since December or so we have taken a look at some of the outstanding players and teams of the long and storied history of Montgomery County basketball. As the high school and college basketball season concludes, so will these basketball related columns.
This final installment is a little bit of this and a little bit of that as we wrap up the basketball history column. Oh, don’t worry, I know there are a lot of players, coaches and teams I didn’t get to highlight this year, but I had to leave you wanting more for next year. Otherwise, Jim Johnson may have cut my column out. This way he will want to keep it going through at least next basketball season.
Let’s begin with New Market. The Purple Flyers who made it to six sectional championship games and won two of them.
Oh course, just about everyone remembers the miracle of the 1967 season when the team went 2-17 before running through the sectional and beating Coal Creek 78-62, New Ross 81-63, and Waveland 57-50 to claim the title. Prior to that the Purple Flyers won a sectional in the 1949-50 season when they went 16-5 in the regular season and then beat Bowers 59-41, New Richmond 63-36, and Waveland 54-44 before capturing the school’s first sectional title with a 51-43 win over Crawfordsville. Team members of that first sectional team were Wes Maxwell, Homer Strickler, Malcolm Scott, Red Thomas, Glen Lawler, John Fairfield, John Alexander, Charles LaFollette, Perry Hockersmith and Darrell Lester. The team was coached by Bill Melvin. Hockersmith led the team in scoring with a 12.3 average and LaFollette averaged 10.3 points.
Tiny Bowers won one sectional title that we looked at a few weeks ago. Other than that championship in 1927 no other Blackshirt team ever won a sectional. The team did make it to two other sectional final games, but came up short both ties. From 1936 until their final season in 1954-55, the team had six winning seasons in that 18-year stretch. Three times the team won 15 games in that period. They went 15-5 in 1949-50 under Coach Dick Bible, 15-6 in 1942-43 under Alex Cox and 15-8 in 1940-41 under Piercy Mastion.
Coal Creek managed to win one sectional title while in existence and was runner-up one year. The sectional title came in 1966 when the team ended the season with a sparkling 20-6 record. The team ended the regular season with a county-best record of 16-5 and then went on to beat Crawfordsville 91-79, Ladoga 73-58, and New Ross 80-71 for the sectional title. In the first game of the regional, the team beat Turkey Run 82-75 in overtime as Rich Stonebraker tallied 19 points, Larry Lidester added 17 and Lee Fouts had 14 points. In the regional final, the team fell to Bainbridge 85-74. Team members of the lone Coach Creek sectional team were: Larry Lidester, Chuck McKnight, Rich Stonebraker, Stan Whitehead, Don Hopper, Tom McCormick, Steve Swick, Lee Fouts, Steve Linton, Denny Mennen, Pat Cunningham and Rick Haas. The team was coached by Phil Miller.
While some teams enjoyed a lot of success on the hardwood, early perennial power, Wingate, fell on hard times later. After dominating the early basketball scene the Spartans had a five year stretch were the team went 8-87. That period started in the 1946-47 season when the team went 0-18 and that was followed up by an 0-19 season the following year. In 1948-49, it looked as though the school was going to turn the corner as it went 6-13, but then back-to-back one-win seasons (1-18 and 1-19) followed.
I hope that these past few months have shown some of the great basketball tradition this county has had. We have just touched the tip of the iceberg. Starting with the next column we will begin looking at other areas.
Barry Lewis has covered local sports for over 30 years. If he hasn’t witnessed it, he’s researched it and now he’s sharing the history of Montgomery County sports every other Wednesday in the Journal Review.