Friday, March 13, 2009
Blackjack League Champs!
One of the best basketball teams to come out of Cedar Vale was reported to be the state tournament team featuring Dr. Herb Stone's younger brother. The best team (in my opinion) that I watched was the squad of 1949/1950. They were ranked #1 in the state for a number of weeks and had newspaper publicity from Wichita and other area publications. Their only loss was in the first round of the state tournament at Hutchinson. Earlier blogs have made mention of the team and some of the athletes. It is felt that they are deserving of their own blog.
The team's uniforms were unique featuring tee shirts rather than the type more traditional. (Some of you might remember the Evansville Purple Aces wearing similar uniforms for many years.) One set of the Bronco uniforms was gold and the other was purple. They had a rather sheen appearance while the warmups were white with more of a wool look. I believe that the most popular high top basketball shoes of the era were the white canvas shoes of choice. (Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars)
The Blackjack League included Cedar Vale, Elk City, Grenola, Howard, Moline, Peru, and Sedan if my memory serves me correctly. (You may recall that blackjack trees are the small oaks predominate to the east of Cedar Vale.) I believe the Chilocco Indian School along with St. John's Academy from Winfield were among the non-league games scheduled. Pregame warm ups featured dunks by some of the players and the attitude of the team was proud and aggressive. The twelve members of the team are listed below. More than likely I have forgotten some players while naming others that were not part of this outstanding group. Perhaps you can refresh my memory.
Bob Bailey: A transfer his senior year from Dodge City. Bob was as smooth as a freshly planed piece of wood and he shot even his free throws with a bit of a flip of the wrist from above his head. Bob carried himself with much poise and might have been classified as the star of the team.
Charles Beachler: A tremendous natural athlete talented in both football and basketball. Unfortunately, Charles was bedeviled with injuries. Charles was a powerful runner in football and had great bursts of energy and ability in basketball.
Kenny Bennett: Kenny was quick! Most usually he fearlessly drove to the basket and would score or be fouled. He was somewhat a master of stealing the ball from an opponent and quickly turned the situation into two points. Kenny gave the team much determination and leadership and was one of the better defensive players.
Reece Bohannon: Reece was a leaper and a scorer of outstanding talent. His brother Don was a previous star at Cedar Vale and Reece later played at Ark City Jr. College (Cowley College) and Emporia State.
Bob Brown: A tough competitor and rebounder.
Joe Ellis: An enthusiastic and fierce competitor.
Jim Hill: One of Cedar Vale's all-time fine athletes who had tremendous jumping ability. Jimmy won state titles in long jump and high jump and received a football scholarship at Wichita State. He was a good post player and had the strength and mobility to match up well with taller individuals.
W. B. Johnston: Dub was perhaps smoother but a competitor much in the mode of Joe Ellis.
Bernard Lemert: Bernard was a quiet contributor.
Bob McGlasson: A major contributor and another smooth player. Bob didn't make waves but his athletic ability allowed him to quietly perform with excellence. A good rebounder was Bob and he was one of the most popular students in school.
Elman McGlasson: A glue type team player with rebounding prowess.
Don Shaffer: A dedicated, determined, and quite good athlete hampered with knee problems.
Some of you may have memories of this season. It would be good if you and others (including members of the team) would allow us your recollections. Cecil Humphries was the previous year's coach and perhaps in retrospect was responsible for much of the team's success. The new coach came from Rosalia and was not rehired after just this one year. It seems that folks felt that the coach had under achieved with the team and that another coach would have achieved even more success. I do remember that the coach would substitute five players at a time with very little drop off in ability or performance. The team ran with abandon and produced some quite high scores. It was not unusual to see them score 25 points in a quarter. The second floor gym was usually (literally) packed to the rafters and most likely at times structurally challenged. The atmosphere was further charged with an outstanding (and loud) pep band. As I remember the cheerleaders weren't gymnastic but attractive and included Delores Hall, Pat Williams, and Janice Stone.
Clyde and Louise Shaffer joined a huge throng of fans and drove a carload of folks to Hutchinson to the tournament. An unusual aspect of the trip was that Clyde ventured a bit far into the railroad track area at the west edge of Winfield and the cross bars came down upon the hood of his vehicle. As I remember the incident allowed Louise to be a bit critical of one of my favorite men of the town. I believe Cedar Vale played Carbondale and the game was not close going into the final quarter. The Broncos caught fire in the last quarter but were too far behind to catch the Topeka area team. In retrospect, I suspect that the team had not enough regular season competition to develop the mental toughness necessary for state tournament play. Also, through the years I have noticed that the more successful teams stress defense possibly a bit more than this version of the "Purple and Gold".
It was rumored that the team stayed at a hotel the night before the game and enjoyed the evening a bit more than some other coaches might have preferred. Nevertheless, it was a magical season!