LEWIS: Montgomery County Remembers: County basketball in 1950s
April 10, 2019
In the last column we talked about the great basketball which was played in the 1960s, so this time around we will, look at the great decade of the 1950s for Crawfordsville.
Of course you have to start with the 1958 Crawfordsville team which went all the way to the State Finals before losing to Fort Wayne South 63-34. Crawfordsville ended the regular season with a 15-5 record before running off nine straight wins in the season until losing in the finals.
The big news that year was the second round sectional game. After beating New Market (who had the best record in the county at 19-2 heading into the sectional) 57-46 the Athenians took on a very determined Alamo team. advertisement
Alamo entered the sectional at 12-7 ( one of seven county teams with a winning record) and gave the heavily favored Athenians all it wanted before losing 64-62 in overtime. No team closer than eight points in any of the tournament games until Crawfordsville lost in the championship game.
The Athenians were dominated by seniors as seven of the team’s top 10 players were seniors. Those seniors were Joe Krutzsch, Bry Williamson, Mike Walker, Gary Jouris, Dave Ewoldt, Don McDevitt and Dick Haslam. Bill Burgett was the lone junior starter. Balance was a key as five players scored more than 200 points during season. Krutzsch set a single season (since has been broken) scoring record with 558 points.
Crawfordsville had another outstanding season in 1958-59 and went 17-3 in the regular season and cruised through the sectional. In the regional final, the Athenians fell to Bainbridge 62-50 in what might have been coach Dick Baumgartner’s best coaching job considering he had lost four starters from the year before.
Perhaps the best Crawfordsville team in the 1950s was the 1954-55 team which went 24-2. Lebanon beat Crawfordsville 35-25 in the third game of the season before the team ran off a school-record 22 wins in row. The streak came to an end when Gary Roosevelt earned a 71-52 decision over Crawfordsville in the state semi-finals.
Phil Warren led the Athenians with a then school-record 454 points. That mark broke the record of of Ernie “Rosey” Herron who scored 419 points in the 1909-10 season. Larry Dickerson, Bill Balch and John Elmore each poured in more than 200 points.
The following year was one of the toughest ever for the Athenians. The team ended with a 7-14 record. However of the 21 games played in 1955-56 a total SIX were overtime games. Out of the six, three were double overtime.
What was Crawfordsville’s record in those OT games? 1-5. The final overtime loss was in the first round of the sectional as the Athenians fell to New Ross 45-41.
Next time out we will look at the best of the county from the 1950s.
Barry Lewis has been playing or covering sports in Montgomery County for more than 40 years and enjoys helping to keep our sports heritage alive with his bi-weekly column for the Journal Review.