When a graduate of the golden era of Montgomery County basketball thinks of Alamo High School, two families come to mind. The first families of Alamo basketball were the Melvins and the Bowermans. Tom Bowerman starred for the Warriors in the early 1930s graduating in 1932. He went up the road to Wabash College and majored in History before returning to his Alma Mater, Alamo where he taught and coached for 22 years. He retired as the winningest coach in Montgomery County basketball history with 265 wins at Alamo and Waynetown.
Tom’s brother, John, was another of the early Alamo stars who also went to Wabash; he coached at Bowers for three years, before going into banking.
Legendary Wabash coach Bob Brock talks with his star player and Alamo great, Charlie Bowerman during a timeout.
Tom Bowerman joined the Bowerman family to the Melvins when he married Hazel Melvin. The 1936 sectional program pictured nine players for the Warrior team. One third of them were Melvins. Howard Melvin, Leland (Bill) Melvin, and Fred Melvin formed 3/5 of the starting lineup that year.
The Melvin family contributed many players to the Alamo legend through the years. Howard starred on the 1934 Warrior team that won the first County tourney for Alamo and Bill led the way in 1937, 1938, and 1939. The Warriors won the County tourney in 1938 as Bill scored 320 points during the season. He burned the nets for 30 points in one game as Alamo recorded a 20 win season.
Howard contributed two sons to Warrior basketball and watched as both became prolific scorers for the Ripley Township crew. Joe Melvin played from 1957 to 1959 and ended up with 720 points for his two year career. Mike Melvin ended his four year career with 828 points including a 40 point outburst against Waveland his senior year. He ended his career in third place on the all-time scoring list behind Lawrence “Whitey” Reath and Charlie Bowerman. Charlie was the son of Tom and Hazel Bowerman who starred at Alamo from 1954 to 1957. He followed his father to Wabash College and had an outstanding career playing for legendary coach Bob Brock and the Little Giants.
Charlie ended his career at Wabash with 1408 points which currently places him ninth on the all-time list. Many of his points came from downtown before the days of the 3-point line. He still holds the single game mark with 63 points scored against the U of I Chicago branch in 1961. He also scored 53 points against Butler in the famous 5 overtime game. The Little Giants defeated Butler five times in six games during Charlie’s career. After graduating from Wabash, Charlie went on to play for the Phillips 66ers of the Nationwide Industrial League, which was almost on a par with the NBA in its early days. He was honored as a member of the Silver Anniversary All-State team in 1984 and was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995. The following is his bio in the Hall of Fame:
“Charlie Bowerman, Scoring Ace at Alamo and Wabash. Played 3 yrs with the Phillips 66ers AAU team…played on 1963 USA team in the World Games…named to AAU teams, toured Russia…Played 3 years at Alamo for father and Coach, Tom Bowerman. Avg. 12.9 as sophomore, 21.4 as junior and 26.3 as senior…twice county scoring leader, 45 point game was at the time the record in Montgomery County…Also class Salutatorian…continued career at Wabash College where he was 3-time MVP…had three seasons averaging over 20 points per game…capped by school record 25.4 mark as senior…led Little Giants to NCAA college division regionals.”
Anther outstanding player for tiny Alamo, as the school was always labeled, was Lawrence “Whitey” Reath who graduated in 1959. “Whitey” ended his career as the all-time leading scorer for Alamo with 1030 in 54 games for a 19.1 average. He was second only to Charlie Bowerman for the single season scoring record with 513 his senior year and had a high game of 38 against Richland Twp. in his senior year.
Mike Melvin ended his career in third place on the career list with 828 points and third on the single season list with 450 points. Others on the top ten list are Leland “Bill” Melvin with 750 points, Joe Melvin with 720, Steve Hallett with 688, Dave Huseman with 650, Wayne Denham with 616, B. Smith with 557 and Dean Weir with 540. Four Warriors blistered the nets for 40 points as Bowerman had a school record 45 followed by Glen Williams with 43, Wayne Denham with 40, and Mike Melvin with 40.
Alamo won County crowns in 1934, 1938, 1946, and 1957, but was one of only three County schools never to win a sectional. The other two were Linden which went into the North unit and Ladoga, which will be the subject of our next and last school to enter the South unit. Alamo did make it to the final game of the sectional in 1959 and Ladoga went to the final game seven times at Crawfordsville and once at Greencastle and came away empty every time.