Table of Contents

1953/54 Webster Wildcat Team Memories

  • Wildcats Against LaPorte #2
    This album of pictures and news articles is from a folder of memories supplied to the blog by Arthur Landiault, one of the exciting players from the 1953/54 Wildcat team. Thanks Art for this great contribution

Clippings, Stats, Etc.

  • George Carlisle Presented Distinguished Service Award
    This album contains news clippings from the past, statistics for players from the Carlisle era, and other interesting stuff. All photos, clippings, etc. must be sent to the site administrator via email to be included in this album.

Robert Brown's Magazine Spread

  • Carbide_news_0005
    This magazine spread featuring Robert Brown was published in the Union Carbide magazine in February of 1957 as the Wildcats were on the road to the state playoffs. Robert was one of the star players on the Creek team that advanced into the state tournment in March of 1957. Robert's step-father was an employee of Union Carbide at the time.

Creek vs. Galveston Ball 1-17-06

  • Galveston Ball Info
    These photos are of pages in the program for the recent Creek vs. Galveston Ball game played at the Carlisle Field House on January 17, 2006. That game was won by the Wildcats, 81-59. Lance Pevehouse led the Creek scorers with 23 points. Thanks to Hugh Taylor (Class of '59) for sending these along.

Team/Individual Photos

  • More Pictures of 56-57 CCJH Teams
    This album contains photos of various former teams and players from the Clear Creek Independent School District. To be included in this album, photos will need to be submitted to the site manager via email.

« Les Talley's Thought on Clear Creek Basketball | Main | Bennie Lenox vs. Dickinson »

Comments

Hugh Taylor

Thanks Dan. I had never seen a write up on this game or it's players. I'm sure that the gym was rocking!

Pat Jensen

Our only state championship team deserves a place of honor and a picture. Anybody got one?

Dan Jensen

Now that we know Coach Talley has joined us, he would be an excellent source for some comments on that state championship year since he was the assistant coach.

How about it? The mood of the team with its ups and downs, etc. This was an ususual team in several respects and you could really enlighten us on several things. Too bad that Henry Bauerschlag cannot do that for us too. He was a great guy. Hey, a thread on him would be great too.

Dan Jensen

Come on Coach Talley. I know you're in here because you said you would mail me some records, stats and stuff on many of the teams.

Until I receive that, why don't you give us some impressions of the state champion season?

Dan Jensen

I spoke with cousin Kennith Dismukes Saturday at a family reunion and encouraged him (with his wife's help) to tackle a computer and and read some of this stuff.

I also note that we are still waiting on a report from Les Talley. I wonder if he still reads this blog? I wonder if anyone does?

Dan Jensen

I just talked on the phone to Lynn Davis and the subject of Wayne Townsend's shooting came up. He was one of the starters on the 1963 state champion.

I checked the books and realized he only made eight field goals all season with 18% shooting! Lynn says that he was the only player whose own teammates would try to block his shot.

Wayne was only about 5-6 but he was one of our all time best ball handlers.

He may have been our all-time worst shooter--a far cry from Paul Trcka, who may have been our all-time best.

Lynn thought that he probably never lost a game of horse and could have beaten Michael Jordan at that.

Dwayne "Curley" Lenox

When I finished reading Dan Jensen's summary of the 1963 championship team, I felt like we had just finished playing that season all over again. What a great piece of writing. If anybody is better at writing about Clear Creek athletics than Dan Jensen, I can't imagine who it would be. He is a walking encyclopedia of Wildcat sports. While writing for the Galveston paper, Dan would always be complimentary about youngsters when deserving and mildly critical when necessary. He's the best. It's as simple as that.

Sometime in the next week or so, I would like to write a comment about one player's perspective about the 1963 State Champions. My intent is to share some insight into what went on in the heads of the players that transferred to both practices and games. I also want to share what the players thought about our coaches, Henry Bauerschlag and Les Talley. They were something special that particular year and made us into champions. I hope you like some of the things I plan to share.

Dan Jensen

I will eagerly await that report (I hope it's long) and wish that some of our old heroes would contribute their thoughts regarding their team.

Covering Clear Creek sports in the long ago was pure joy and a big part of that involved the sterling contributions of the Lenox family.

paul hackett

I will comment on our 65-66 team. Our success was pretty remarkable in light of the fact that we were relatively inexperienced at the Varsity playing level. I believe that only Bill McGuire had started as a Junior. Maybe Joe Mckinney could shed some light on this. I am certain that Kent Rindy must have gotten some playing time. Richard Huhn started for us as a sophomore and Robby Copeland was a JV guy the year before. As for me , I played some as a junior but as a low postman and missed a big part of the season when I contracted nephritis that ended my basketball season as well as cost me several weeks of baseball season.

We lost 4 games my senior year and only one was to another AAA team. We all, unfortunately recall when and where that happened. I think Curley may be on to something as to what makes teams special... a connection if you will. My team was not terribly connected off the court. We all pretty much went our own way and had our circle of friends for social things. I think the most compelling and common thread was probably Coach Bill's unbelievable drive for excellence and winning. We were a good mix of skill sets as well and I guess with 3 6'4 guys and a 6'2" player , we probaby weren't the shortest team around either.

Back to our Coach K... We were a team that could press even though we lacked team speed and quickness and we could score.

Maybe the difference in a champion and a state champion is a special unity, or maybe it's just bad karma or an unexpcted bounce of the ball.When I think about the Marshall game it stings now instead of hurt. It was a disappointment but in no way takes away from the great season we had and the contributions that so many guys made. So, for me, a couple of late missed free throws and a ref swallowing his whistle at the end of a championship game can't take away what we all did and I am proud of our piece of the Clear Creek Basketball legeacy.

My God ...I am becoming a slobbering old wind bag..

I look forward to hearing from others and as for Scooter's assessment of his team...35-0 is better than pretty damn good.

Dan Jensen

Scooter's team was 35-1 and I am sure he would say that is a pretty big disapointment, much like the 33-1 team of 1956. Glorious seasons marred by a loss in the last game.

Dan Jensen

It sure has been a long "week or so" since Curley solemnly promised to share his thoughts with us.

Dan Jensen

Here is a report from Scooter Lenox, Curley's brother:

Curley is recovering from triple bypass surgery and probably has not given much thought to the promise of giving that perspective.

Dan Jensen

While we wait on Curley to recover and collect his thoughts on that golden state championship year, I want to share a clipping that Lynn Davis sent to me. It was a 20 year old article on the team being honored at the 1989 state meet on the 25th anniversary of its championship.

Coach Henry Bauerschlag was interviewed and said, "What I remember about it (the title game) was that Seminole played a defense that we hadn't seen hardly any. We weren't really that prepared so we had to improvise during the game and the kids did a great job of doing what had to be done. What it amounted to was that we had to use common sense and play playground basketball."

"We came back with one starter and I thought we'd be decent but I did not think we would be able to win it. We struggled early."

"It was really a satisfying thing when it happened (winning the title) because we lost a couple of district games for the first time in many years.

"We had something like 90 straight district wins but we lost our first district game to Deer Park.

After the initial loss to Deer Park, Creek began working harder, Bauerschlag said. "They wanted to win and they worked hard in practice. I remember telling them after the Deer Park game that if we were the right kind of people then this game will help us. They still came back and did what had to be done."

The trials of district competition certainly helped Creek, Bauerschlag concluded. "Sometimes if you win it too easy in district, you don't have the edge," he said.

Dan Jensen

A report from Scooter on his brother, "Curley is doing fine. He is doing the rehab, a total of 32 sessions. He says it is a rigorous workout but seems to be helping his strength come back."

Dwayne "Curley" Lenox

Dan Jensen,

I got most of my comments typed before the surgery but have not had the opportunity to transfer them to this blog just yet. Since retiring last year and having some free time, I really thought the entire process could be finished in a week or so but got hit with something unexpected. As a result, I had to visit several different doctors through their collectively established hierarchy before I ever got to meet the surgeon. After the initial three week period of not being allowed to drive after surgery, things have continued to improve daily. I feel very fortunate, especially since I never have any symptoms.

Through it all, I have learned a valuable lesson about placing a fairly definitive time on something to be completed. Hopefully, though, it will only be a relatively short time before it is posted. Be aware, though, that the finished product will be fairly lengthy and will take more than just a few minutes to read. I hope people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

paul hackett

Curley,

Glad to haer you are doing well.

Paul

Dan Jensen

Curly, fairly lengthy won't get it. I want it to be VERY lengthy.

Dwayne "Curley" Lenox

Wildcat Basketball--1963


“It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times”

Charles Dickens, the well-known Nineteenth Century British author, could have been prophetically summarizing the 1962-63 Clear Creek basketball team when he wrote his most famous quote to the introduction of his book, “A Tale of Two Cities.” The “worst of times” was not referring to an actual city but, instead, was in reference to the French Revolution of 1789-1799. On the other hand, Dickens own country, England, or London in particular, was going through what he labeled as “the best of times,” even though there were still a few external conflicts occurring that he referred to as trivial when compared to the major revolt going on in France. Both countries had built a strong tradition of being a powerful country and had no intention of giving any nation, including each other, the opportunity to end their most treasured possession. Sound familiar? It should. The Clear Creek basketball tradition continued through one crazy season when the best of times and the worst of times became interwoven through the fiber that helped make the character of the 1963 team. The ever present desire to keep that tradition alive is what eventually made us winners. It was truly a season filled with “the best of times” and “the worst of times.”

From late March of 1962 to the second week in March of 1963, our basketball team certainly endured the lion’s share of the worst of times, probably more that any of the previous Clear Creek teams had. However, we also enjoyed some of the best of times that eventually ended with the climatic crowning as the 1963 State Basketball Champions for Class 3A. My purpose in writing this summary about that strange but sensational season, is to share with you how a group of young high school players and two coaches new to the varsity level, not only overcame the worst of times that seemed destined to have our legacy engraved as miserable failures, but eventually to become best kind of winners. Through the good and the bad, the ups and downs, and the wins and losses, we continued to both learn from our mistakes and worked every day to improve on our individual skills as well as those that would allow our team to successfully carry on the Clear Creek tradition and the high expectations that came along with it until we became champions.

I make no apologies for being biased about this team in my writing. Losing two district games and having to claw our way back into contention was a difficult task. Fortunately for us, though, we had two outstanding coaches in Henry Bauerschlag and LesTalley that believed in and encouraged us until there was no way we were going to let all those down that had created that tradition in the first place.

If you have not already done so, I would like to encourage you to read Dan Jensen’s account of that seemingly improbable season in 1963 that he called, “Our Championship Year.” No one could have written it any better than Dan. It is really inspirational.

After reading Dan’s comments in both “Our Championship Year“ and in his coverage of our games as a sports writer, the thought came to me that there might be some people who would like to know a player’s perspective of that season as one who actually went through it and lived to tell about it. I had always wanted to do something like that and, since I had recently retired, finding the time to do so was not going to be a problem. Unfortunately, I got halfway through it before being interrupted by triple-bypass heart surgery and the rehab that goes along with it. Now, however, I’m ready so here goes. Because it is a little lengthy, you might want to have some snacks close at hand as you read.

The ‘63 team had plenty of reasons to rejoice throughout the season and we always tried to do just that. After all, every team we competed against would have been ecstatic to their season with a 26-6 record as we did. That’s winning slightly over 81% of our games, and we didn’t play any patsies. Unfortunately, along with the good came some bad. We suffered through some really embarrassing and self-humiliating lows. One of them occurred in the Houston Jaycee Tournament when we stumbled our way to a 22 point whipping by Houston Jeff Davis, by far the largest margin of defeat we had the whole year. In fact, I don’t recall any loss in my three years on the varsity being that lopsided. Unfortunately, the degradation didn’t stop there. We were also beaten by Texas City, a team from our own Galveston County, and that had not happened in over 10 years. In fact, during that time, the Clear Creek teams had won 70 straight games over the other schools in Galveston County. In the 1962-63 season, we lost three games. Losing any county game was bad enough, but the worst of times was when we lost a district contest for the first time in 80 games after previous Clear Creek teams had compiled a 79 district game winning streak. In fact, we lost two district games, both in the first round of play. Consequently, we were very close to coming in either 2nd or 3rd in the district race. Should that have happened, it would have ended a nine year district championship winning streak. However, it was when our opponents and, sad to say, a few of our fans began to believe that this team was dead, we always seemed to rise from the ashes and would keep believing until we eventually earned the title of 1963 State Champions. It was anything but easy getting there, though. At times, it was hard and treacherous. It seemed that nothing would come easy to this team.

After coming in 3rd at the state meet in 1962, Coach Carlisle dropped a bomb shell on us when announcing that he was taking a position at Rice University as the assistant basketball coach under Johnnie Frankie. My mother was actually the first person to tell me that he was leaving. She came into my bedroom early one morning (I think it was on a Sunday) and showed me in the newspaper where he had resigned and was headed to Rice. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. It was just understood among the players that he would always be the basketball coach at Clear Creek. In my eyes Coach Carlisle and Clear Creek were inseparable. One couldn’t exist without the other. I couldn’t imagine us surviving without him as the head coach. Panic began to root out any rationalization I might have had at the time. What if the school board and superintendent brought in somebody that didn’t know much about the game of basketball, or even the Clear Creek tradition? Worse still, what if he wanted me to play post? My gosh, could we be getting a goober? Fear is an awful thing at any age but when someone is 17 years old and his coach has just resigned, that fear becomes overwhelming. Later in the day, I heard some good news. Coach Bauerschlag was given the head coaching position and Coach Talley, another in the long line of great junior high coaches, was going to be his assistant. Thank God! Hearing that took a lot of the sting out of losing Coach Carlisle. Coach Henry and Coach Talley were two coaches that the returning players greatly admired and respected. We felt very strongly that Coach Carlisle was leaving us with the two best coaches around and we were definitely going to be in good hands, and I wasn’t going to play post, at least not entirely.


Not long after learning that Coach Henry was going to be the head basketball coach, he called me into his office in the presence of Coach Carlisle. I was the only returning starter from the 1962 team, and the only one with much varsity experience. James Collins, Chuck Stamper, Frankie Fleener, and Chuck Kilgore were juniors that were also on the varsity the previous year, but saw very limited action. However, each one would play an important part in our championship year as seniors. So, basically, we were nearly starting fresh when it came to experience. On my way to his office, I was trying to think of a reason why he wanted to talk with just me. I hadn’t done anything wrong.

I was relieved when he said that, due to the overall lack of experience coming back next year, he was going to expect a lot out of me. He anticipated that I would develop into a strong leader and to be able to lead by example. From that day forward, he wanted me to show the other players what it took to be a winner. After all, he said, I had been on two varsity teams during my sophomore and junior years that had a combined record of 75-5. He wanted me to work every day on both my outside game as well as the inside. Coach Talley was going to show me how to get the ball down low by stepping toward the pass and shooting a fade-away. He was also going to work with me on blocking out and rebounding because I was going to play the middle on the
1-3-1 zone. That area was all new territory to me because Bill Doty had played that position for the past three years. Coach also wanted me to learn all the other positions on defense as well so that, when a player had a question or was out of position while on the court, I would know what to tell him. He also wanted me at the gym whenever it was open during the summer and work on the things he had just talked about. He wanted me to make sure that the other players knew they were expected to be there as well, if they wanted to play on the varsity.


Needless to say, I was overwhelmed by Coach Henry’s expectations. No coach had ever laid that much responsibility on me since I had started playing organized basketball in elementary. I had been yelled at many times by the best of them for making stupid plays during a game or in practice. Most players had (remember Coach Proctor, the Vince Lombadi of the basketball court?) However, I had never been encouraged like Coach Henry encouraged me during the time we met. Surprisingly, Coach Carlisle never said a word the whole time. Later on, I began to understand the reason why he did not speak. It was Coach Henry’s team now and, by being silent, Coach Carlisle was relinquishing his responsibility to the new “head“ man. Made sense.

After the meeting and I had gone to my own home, the thought of what it meant to be a senior and the expectations thrust on me at that time weighed heavily. As I was laying in bed that night, I remember asking myself, “What if I screw up something, or do something wrong? What will they think of me then?” I really wanted to please our coaches and be the leader they wanted out of me, but, at the same time, I wanted to have fun and not be burdened down with outside influences beyond my control. After all, it was my senior year and I was going to make the best of it by making it memorable. Finally, I said, “think positive, not negative.” I wasn’t going to do anything to lose the coaches trust because I was really a pretty good kid and, besides, I didn’t do the things some of my friends did, at least, not all of them. I convinced myself that it was going to be a great year for me because I was going to make it one. No problem. Everything is under control.

Within three or four days of my meeting with Coach Henry, I was getting ready to leave for school when Chuck Kilgore, one of my best friends and a fellow team member, came in the front door. My parents were in the kitchen and I was in the hall just outside the bathroom. He came up to me with a wild look on his face and whispered to me that his dad had let him use the car to drive to school and, then, he asked me if I wanted to skip and just mess around. I was startled for a minute, probably because the thought of skipping school had never occurred to me. Then, for a reason known only to God, I said, “sure.” What’s really sad is I was goofy enough to think that we would never get caught. How dumb was that. One of Chuck’s friends with us while we drove to Galveston for a fun filled day of activities. At least that is what I expected. However, all we did was ride the ferry back and forth from Galveston to Port Boliver all morning long. At noon we drove to the bowling alley in Dickinson, ate lunch, bowled a game or two, and stayed until it was time to go home. As luck would have it, my dad was waiting on me in the garage when I got there. I knew I was dead by the look on his face. Art Goforth, the assistant principal, had phoned to let him know that I was not in school. By the time I got home, my dad was boiling mad. For you that don’t know, that’s the worst kind of mad. Although he was a strong disciplinarian and I immediately started worrying about the type of punishment he had on his mind, I was even more concerned about what Coach Henry was thinking about me than anything else. I felt like I had really let him down and I was going to work hard to earn his trust again.

The next day, my dad made sure I was the first one in school. I didn’t have to go to the coaches office, Coach Carlisle met me when I got out of the car. I sat in his office for a few minutes before Coach Henry came in. He told me how disappointed he was over my actions, especially since we had just talked a few days ago. Coach Carlisle told me that most cases of skipping school were handled by administering two swats from his ping-pong paddle. However, five swats were given to those athletes that much was expected. That certainly wasn’t what I wanted to hear. Two swats wasn’t either, but it was a lot better than five. But wait a minute. Isn’t this the man that has already resigned and taken another job. Why is he giving me swats? He’s not my coach anymore. Needless to say, I wasn’t about to address these concerns with him right then. I just took my swats, apologized, and vowed I would never do anything so stupid again. I didn’t.


During the summer before my senior year, most boys that were going to play either on the junior varsity or on the varsity teams, would meet at the high school at least three evenings a week and play pick-up games among ourselves. As a result, we came to know each other much better and began talking about what it would take to have a successful season. By summer’s end, a belief had evolved among us that we might even have a realistic chance to become one the best teams ever at Clear Creek. There really wasn’t a “cocky swagger” about us yet, but we were sure beginning to feel much better than we felt when Coach Carlisle told us he was leaving. We set two main goals that summer. They were to win district, and in doing so, win every district game. We talked often about how difficult it would be to face players from previous teams if we did not complete both goals. After playing basketball and talking with each other in the summer, we concluded that we had a responsibility to continue to uphold the Clear Creek basketball mystic, and that it was something we were taking very seriously.

Occasionally, a few of us would go to the gym between 9:00 and 10:00 in the evening to play a little half-court or, if enough boys showed up, we even got in some full court. The school had a night watchman/janitor that worked until 2:00 AM Monday through Friday and would always let us in if we beat on the door loud enough. His job was to keep the gym and the locker rooms clean, and make sure the towels were washed and folded for the basketball teams. He also washed and dried uniforms and placed them in the appropriate lockers. He always seemed awfully glad to see us which helped us conclude that being a night watchman in a school must have been a very lonely job. He would turn on the lights, let us into the locker room, and brought out the basketballs for us. We would play until close to midnight before showering and going home. I suppose one could justly say that a form of “Midnight Madness” originated in Clear Creek long before it became so popular throughout the rest of the nation.

Occasionally, the players would talk about the remote possibility of actually losing a district game. We would only talk about it among ourselves, and only then for a brief moment. It was much more fun to talk about extending the district game winning streak.

However, it is interesting to note at this time that there was one distinct instance in the three years I was in high school when one of our own basketball coaches tried to prepare us for the possibility of losing a district game. It never happened before that time or after it. In the 1961-62 season, Coach Carlisle openly demonstrated a lot of concern when the time came to play Deer Park in the second round of district. The fact that we were going to play them in their gym only increased his concern and anxiety. After all, we had only defeated them by the score of 50-47 the first time we met so, I suppose, he had a right to be uneasy. Deer Park had the best team they ever had and were excited that their chance of finally bringing Clear Creek basketball down to the level of the other teams in district had arrived. They had only lost the one game to us, making this game very important to both teams, especially for them. The Deer Park coach, Cotton Watkins, had been a frustrated man for several years. Coach Carlisle was his nemesis and he became obsessed with the thought of defeating Clear Creek. The setting could not have been any better for him and he openly expressed in a newspaper article that his team would be ready. It had all the makings of a great ball game.


Coach Carlisle was always straight forward when talking to his teams, whether it was before or after a practice, or before a crucial game. He held no punches. On the day before traveling to Deer Park, he talked to us about the inevitability that someday the consecutive district game win streak would end. He further stated that, if we should lose to Deer Park, everyone on the team must still behave like champions. We were to congratulate the winners and walk off the floor with our heads held high. He didn’t want any grumbling or excuse making. He had not made a practice of doing such things and wasn’t going to start it now. Needless to say, we were stunned at what he had just said. Did he really think we might lose a district game? Coach was a real master at leaving his players hanging with a thought, walking away, and ,then, expecting us to eventually solve the meaning ourselves. Sometimes the team solved it together but, at other times, we did not. It was all part of his plan.


After dismissing the team, Coach told Bobby Rule and me to stay with him for a few minutes. He led us to his office, closed the door, and emphatically stressed to us that Bill Doty must get the ball nearly every possession down the floor in order for us to win. It was as simple as that. Doty was to be the first, second, and third choices in our offense. He was taller, bigger, and stronger than the Deer Park post players which should make it a little easier for him to score. Evidently he told Bill the same thing because he responded to Coaches personal challenge in a Herculean way by scoring 42 points in what I think was his best game of the year. We won by the score of 61-57 in a double overtime thriller and the consecutive district game winning streak continued.

Coach Carlisle would usually show more respect to seniors than he did juniors, and more to juniors than he did sophomores. I believe he thought a player would have to earn in a sort of caste system way. At least that is the way I perceived it. During my sophomore year, I was a starter along with Paul Timmins, Norman Lunday, Bill Doty, and Rick Jones. In our third game of the season against Texas City, Coach told me that I would play in the junior varsity game and would, then, suit up for the varsity game as well. I took that to mean that my services were no longer needed at the varsity level, that I had lost my starting position and was even demoted to the junior varsity team. My immediate thought was that I must have really stunk it up the first two games. I certainly wasn’t going to ask Coach his reasons; he was still a little too intimidating for me. At any rate, I played on the junior varsity the entire game and had a lot of fun. After all, these were the same guys that played 7th and 8th grade basketball with me When it was over, I ran to the locker room, changed out of the JV uniform, and into the varsity one. After warming up for the second time that night. I headed to the bench area where Coach called out the starting line-up. I remember being shocked when he called out my name along with Paul, Norman, Bill, and Rick. To top it off, I played nearly the entire varsity game like I did in the JV game. About halfway through the 4th quarter, we were ahead by about 15 or so points when Coach started substituting in order to get some of the other players a few minutes of playing time. He didn’t take me out with the rest of the starters and I was probably more tired than anybody on the court, or so I thought. Who else had played two games that night? Nobody! When play resumed and about twenty seconds had run off the clock, for no sensible reason I called timeout. I can’t remember player in any of my high school games ever calling timeout. Why I did it remains a mystery to this day. I must have been out of my head. When the players gathered around coach, I did my best to hide at the back. Suddenly, Coach yelled out, “who called timeout?” I turned my head, hoping that someone would say he did it but they were all looking at me. It became obvious quickly who the guilty person was. Coach got within six inches of me and yelled out again, “why did you call time?” I couldn’t think of anything else at the spur of the moment so I told him I was tired. That was the wrong thing to say and I realized it the moment it came out of my mouth. Coach yelled out a third time, “I was going to take you out but not now. You will finish the game and after next week, you won’t get tired again. You’re a sophomore; you don’t ever call timeout. In fact, nobody calls timeout but me. Now get back in there.” For the next 5 or 6 days after practice, I ran horses for about 30 minutes. After each one, Coach would ask me if I wanted to call timeout again, or if I was tired. I learned from that day on that sophomores don’t have “rights” when it comes to basketball. Although I continued to start every game after that, I never called timeout for the rest of my basketball playing days, both in high school and in college.

I will be the first to admit that the 1961-62 team was not all that good a club according to Clear Creek standards. We had a great record, 34-5, but we also had won some district games that were strongly contested with the margin of victory being very close. In fact, we could have lost any one of five or six games in district. Then, after losing Bill Doty, Rick Jones, and Bobby Rule to graduation, some people were beginning to believe that a district loss the coming year was inevitable. Because we only had one returning starter coming back for the 1962-63 season, many thought this would be that year. By the time school started in September, there were some skeptics giving our team a 50-50 chance of ending both of the district winning streaks. Sadly, some of the negative comments came from a few so called “fans” within the community. Yet, the most sordid comments came from a select few of the football coaches. Hard to believe, but true. On the other hand, during my three years in high school, athletics at Clear Creek always received outstanding support from both the faculty and the administration. Not many schools could say that.


A coach in any competitive sport wants to win and, if they are worth their salt, they want to win badly. That’s understandable and is expected. However, three coaches so adamantly wanted to have championship football teams that they were willing to create them at the expense of the basketball program. One of them would tell basketball players that he will not say the “B” word until his football team either won state or got beat in the playoffs, and he expected them to make as far as the quarterfinals at the minimum. He also would not accept a basketball schedule at any time during the school year, even if football was over. As the assistant baseball coach, he would tell the basketball players on the team, “you finally made it out of the box and got outside where real sports is played.” All three of them would make some smart remark to us about playing a women’s game and that real men played football. One of the coaches was relieved of his duties because of legal problems. Another one could never produce a winning football team so he left after my junior year. The other one has no doubt retired or is still working in the district. If he is, that guy is super old. Good riddance to all three.

When school started in September of 1962 at the beginning of my senior year, the basketball players that were not playing football worked out during the athletic period, which was the last hour of the day. We did some off-season stuff at the beginning, but, mostly, it was about improving individual skills. After school workouts started in October so by the time football season was over, we had already had three or four weeks of two and one-half hours of practice every day. The football players joined us after the first week in November, and we were certainly glad to see them. We were tired of going against the same faces each day. Now, we could get down to the serious business of carrying on the Clear Creek tradition of winning basketball. Finally having the football players out on the court with us was like starting all over again. There was an air of excitement that players feel only at the beginning of the season. It was a fresh start and we were ready to get going. The varsity was comprised of juniors Jack Dugas, Wayne (Fleecy) Townsend, Ronnie Wilkening, Jimmie Dale Lenox, and James Mitchell. The seniors were James Collins, Chuck Stamper, Frankie Fleener, Chuck Kilgore, and me. We were not a tall team at all with Fleener being the tallest at 6’4,” although he was not a starter and, unfortunately, did not see much playing time. I was 6’3” and Jimmie Dale was 6’2,” The others were 6’1” or under, mostly under.

From the very first practice and everyday thereafter, Coaches Henry and Talley emphasized that, in order to be a winning team, we must work hard on the defensive end every day until we are better on defense than our opponents were are on offense. Coach Henry would always say, “Shut ’Em Out,” when talking about playing defense. His burning desire was for us to keep a team from scoring a single point throughout the entire game. Coach believe that, by keeping a team scoreless, our chances of winning would greatly increase. Kind of funny but, was it realistic to believe it was possible to keep a high school boys team from scoring in those days? Probably not, although I read recently that a girls team was beaten by a score of 100-0. I imagine Coach Henry is smiling about that one. The players believed in our coaches and their abilities to get us where we needed to be. More than anything, I think defense is what eventually made us champions.

After workout one day early in the season, Coach Henry told the team that we were going to have a guest speaker at the beginning of the next day’s practice. He would not tell us the name of the guest but did say that he was an expert on the 1-3-1 zone defense. Coach also said that this basketball guru had forgotten more than anybody else knew about the 1-3-1 and we should consider ourselves fortunate that he was in the area and wanted to share his expertise with us. Well, as you can imagine, that was the talk of the locker room. None of us could think of who the guest speaker might be. One thing was for sure, though, we would all be there to see.

The 1-3-1 zone was not a stranger to Clear Creek basketball. It was the primary defense prior to Bennie’s sophomore year and, perhaps, even further back than that. Southwest Texas used it a lot during the days of Milton Jowers, especially in the 1950’s. Most of the coaches in Texas that graduated from SWT also used it as their primary defense as well.

As it turned out, our old coach, the legendary George Carlisle was the guest speaker. By the time the players got dressed, he was already in the gym, dressed in his coaching attire, and waiting to talk to us as much as he could about the 1-3-1 zone defense in the limited amount of time he had available. Because we had been running the 1-3-1 the last two years, Coach Carlisle didn’t see the need to go over the basics again. Instead, he demonstrated the various ways other teams attack the zone and how we were to defend them. As a result of his suggestions, we practiced throughout the year against those ways and became very successful in defending them. That one day Coach Carlisle took time away from his new job at Rice University to work with us on defense had to be one of the real inspirational moments by which we were able to build our season on. It meant so much for us to know that he was still a Wildcat, that his blood still bled maroon and white. When he finished and left, we were all ready to kick some butt. It was great to see him back at Clear Creek, if only for a day.

After practice, several of the players began asking each other what they thought about Coach Henry bringing in a coaching legend like Coach Carlisle and letting him speak to Coach Henry’s own team, the one he had just inherited. Some thought that an average coach would not want his predecessor at any of the practices, simply because he might feel threatened and not gain the confidence of his players. However, Coach Henry was not your average coach. After a little more discussion, we concluded that both men had undoubtedly developed over time a very strong and loyal friendship that evolved into a fervent trust and respect for each other. These men were Clear Creek Wildcats above all else and were dedicated to keeping it’s winning tradition alive, no matter what anybody else might think. In order to do so, they felt obligated to assist the program in every way possible. As a team, we also believed that both coaches felt a commitment to the boys that played and the fans that watched all the teams before 1963. After all, it was those players that created this winning monster. We were just trying to keep it alive.

In the first game of the season, we played Galena Park in our gym on a Saturday night. In the locker room before the game, Coach Henry told the rest of the team to keep the ball away from me until he gave the signal. That’s not exactly what I wanted to hear. Where was all that stuff he told me last spring about being the leader, him devising the offense so I would get more shots and, now, he was telling my teammates to keep it away from me. I looked around the huddle and saw that Jimmie Dale and Ronnie Wilkening were two guys that seemed to like the plan and were smiling. They were good shooters and recognized that a good opportunity for them to get a few extra shots had quickly developed. However, midway through the first quarter, Coach Henry gave the signal to start sharing the ball with me. Now, it was my turn to smile. We eventually won by the score of 60-38, a good way to open the season. The real significance of the score was that Galena Park did not get out of the thirties. Although I scored 27 points, I was more proud of our defensive effort than anything else. It was clear that team pride in our defense had begun. Although, we didn’t “shut ‘em out,” we could tell Coach was pleased as well.

Our next game was with Ball High and was to be played in Galveston. There first year coach, Milby Sexton, had scouted us on Saturday night against Galena Park. In Monday’s paper, he was quoted as saying about our team, “they can still hit the bucket but they are not as smooth as the team from last year. They will definitely miss the big boy, Bill Doty, and our overall height average should work to our advantage.” This was coming from a coach whose team had just lost to that perennial national power, Dickinson, by a score of 34-33. A loss to Dickinson. Can you imagine? The Ball High kids should not have been allowed to ride the bus back to Galveston. Neither should that cocky little coach. Sadly, our game with the Tors was not much better than their Dickinson game. It was sloppy with numerous turnovers, low shooting percentages, and poor rebounding. They were pitiful and so were we. The only good thing that happened was that we won, even if the final score was a pathetic 44-39. We were extremely disappointed and embarrassed when Coach Henry reminded us that a five point win was just a few more points than Dickinson had scored against Ball High. It was one of those games that went down in the win column but we felt like it was a loss. Nothing sweet about that victory.

A powerful 4A school, Spring Branch, gave us our first loss by a score of 58-56 on our own floor. The Bears had one of the better teams we would played that year and proved it by placing second to San Angelo and their star, Minton White, in the state tournament. Spring Branch won the game against us when a sophomore named Bruce McKnight made a 25 footer with only two seconds to play. It was just his fourth and fifth points of the night. I scored 26 and Jimmie Dale scored 12, but, even though we lost, one bright spot was that Chuck Stamper scored 10 points. Not only did he score but his rebounding was phenomenal. Chuck was not much over 6’ tall but he could rebound with the best of them. Our team was going to need that from him if we were going to be successful. He had some very good games for us and became a starter in the post area for most of the season. He got a lot of slaps on the back and handshakes that night.

We actually scored enough to win the game with Spring Branch, but our defense was not yet up to the task of playing such a formidable team. If we were going to win over 4A and 3A teams similar to Spring Branch, we could not allow them to score 58 or more points on us. The goal established by players on the ’63 team was to limit the opposition’s offense to below 50 points. By the end of the season, there were only eight of the thirty-two teams we played that actually scored over 50 or more points. Texas City and Brenham were the two teams that scored an even 60. No team scored over 60. We simply had to keep other teams from scoring many points because we were not going to score a lot ourselves. Coach had us believing that, anytime we scored in the fifties, we should win the game. Unfortunately, having our own team score 50 points proved to be more difficult than we imagined.

We got revenge on Spring Branch with an overtime win in their gym. James Collins was a player that knew his role on the team probably better than anybody. He could handle the basketball with ease, always knew when to look for his shot, and could play very good defense on the baseline of the zone, a critical area in the 1-3-1. For some reason, Spring Branch left him alone the last time we were on offense and he scored with only a few seconds to go. The final score was 48-46. Although we did not “Shut ‘Em Out,” as Coach Henry would have liked, they were kept below fifty points. In fact, both teams only had 42 points at the end of regulation, even though the game was well played with few mistakes.

Later in the year, James Collins would score on a more important last second shot then the one at Spring Branch and, this time, it was at the state tournament in Austin. That shot turned out to be the biggest shot of the year and, possibly, the biggest shot in Clear Creek basketball history. The 2nd game with Spring Branch was strange to the point that it was almost a mirror image of the game we would pay against South San Antonio in the semi-finals of the state tournament. More about that game a little later on.

When Ball High made the trip to our place, we were determined to play much better than the first time we met in Galveston. We jumped out to a 18-5 first quarter lead and stretched it to 41-19 by halftime. Every player on the squad got into the game and every one of them scored. Reserves played much of the 3rd quarter and most of the 4th, which was nice. It’s always good for team morale when every player on the team gets to play. Although the final score was 62-36, it could have been much worse.

After the game, many of us would ask each other in a sarcastic sort of way if the Ball High coach thought our team was any smoother this time around (remember his comments in the paper?). He actually thought his ragged group of boys could win the game. Revenge is sweet.

The Bryan Tournament in early December was supposed to be a real test for our team early in the year. Coach Henry told us that the tournament would have several good and talented teams represented, especially in our bracket. We were a little concerned with what Coach had to say, but were anxious to go up to Bryan and play. Bennie and several of his Aggie teammates were going to watch the games so that alone added a little more pressure, especially for Jimmie Dale and me. However, our confidence was greater than our concern and, when it was time to play, we were ready. Remember, we were Clear Creek and everyone else should be worried about playing us, not us worry about playing them. Cockiness? Maybe a little.

We won the tournament by destroying A&M Consolidated by the score of 72-46 in the first game and getting by Huntsville with a 60-47 win in the semi-finals. Bryan played us for the championship and gave a strong effort until the middle of the third period when we broke the game open. The final score was 56-35. I was named the MVP of the tournament but it could have just as easily gone to either Jimmie Dale or Chuck Stamper, both of whom played well throughout the three games. If a team is not careful, such frivolous awards as MVP and All-Tourney teams can cause dissention among the players. If that happens, the season is virtually over at that point. That’s why we never made such honors a big deal. We tried to stress that basketball is a team game. We win or lose with that concept. Nothing else matters.

The Clear Creek Tournament was the second one we played in that year. We won the first game fairly easily over Galveston Kerwin, 67-44 with the reserves getting to see a lot of action. In the second game with Cypress Fairbanks, a much better team, our offense sputtered to a unimpressive 42-32 win. Our shooting, which had been so effective against a weaker Kerwin team, turned frigid against Cypress Fairbanks as we only connected on a miserable 30.2% of our shots. Nevertheless, we had earned the right to play Dickinson in the finals. Can you imagine Dickinson making the finals in anything? We players talked among ourselves that this game was going to be easy. No sweat. Reserves, you better be ready because you are going to play a lot during this game. However, none of us could imagine how big a game it was going to be for Dickinson and their fans. They must have brought 300 supporters to the game. I suppose they believed their boys were going to win just like fan from any of the other teams did before playing us. Should Dickinson ever beat Clear Creek in basketball, it will be like them winning the state championship. I just can’t ever see it happening.

Bernard Callendar was Dickinson’s coach and surprised us immediately with a box and one defense on me. We had never seen such a defense and, consequently, were confused most of the game. Dickinson got off to a quick 6-1 lead and actually were ahead 20-17 before we rallied to tie the score at 22-22 at the end of the first half. As my dad would say afterwards, “it was down right pitiful.“ Coach Callendar’s strategy proved to be effective during the first half but Coach Henry made an adjustment at the beginning of the 2nd half. He put me at the top post and informed the rest of the team that my job was going to be one of simply fronting the ball wherever it was on the court. Because it was such an unconventional defense, he thought that Dickinson probably didn’t have enough time to properly work on it in practice and would most likely get confused if I kept moving without the ball. Hopefully, that would force them to leave somebody unguarded. If that happened, I was hoping that it would be either Jimmie Dale or Ronnie, simply because they were good scorers.

Coach was right, somebody would be left open. However, I don’t think he thought that person would be me. I know I didn’t. Nonetheless, I did find myself open and my teammates got me the ball. By moving without the ball, I usually only had the one guy guarding me, making it much easier to get a shot. As a result, I hit the first four shots at the start of the 3rd quarter but, unfortunately, missed my next six. If I ever learned anything from Bennie it was, “a good shooter doesn’t stop shooting when he misses a few shots, even if they are in a row. He should keep jacking it up there because the odds are in his favor that he will probably hit the next five.” His philosophy definitely worked for me that night. Going into the 4th quarter, we led 39-28 and were beginning to feel a little better about our play. However, we immediately reverted back to playing like we did in the first half while Dickinson started to make a move. They managed to cut our lead down to two with just a few minutes left to play. Then, I scored two more buckets and Jimmie Dale made a lay up to increase our lead to 47-41. James Collins added a free throw to end the game. The gators had out scored us in the fourth quarter by 13-9. We hoped it wouldn’t make the papers.

We finally won that wretched game by the score of 48-41. I couldn’t leave the court, shower, and get away from the gym fast enough. I was thoroughly humiliated and embarrassed. So was the rest of the team. Dickinson had never beaten a team that any member of the varsity was on in either elementary, junior high, or high school, but they came close that night. What a nightmare. We were still proud of our 1st place finish but, at the same time, were disgusted by our overall performance. Before anybody could leave the dressing room, though, we pledged as a team to never let Dickinson get any closer to us than 30 points in district play. We held true to that pledge and won the first game with them by 34 points. However, in the second game, we only won by 28. Still, we were glad the Gators were soundly beaten and that the Clear Creek teams that played before us were able to smile again.

A Texas City team had not won a game against Clear Creek in 10 years, going back 16 straight games. The 1963 seniors knew that this year’s team was not anything like the Stingarees of the past. They had two excellent basketball players on their team by the names of Cecil Sellers and Davis Blanton. The seniors had competed against them in both junior high and high school. The 1961 Wildcats won both games that year when Sellers and Blanton were sophomores. The final scores were 44-31 and 60-47. In the first game, Davis Blanton played but did not score and Cecil Sellers was not even in the box score as having played. Blanton scored 10 points in the second game but, again, Cecil did not play. I suppose it is possible that Cecil was on the junior varsity and, over the years, have forgotten about it. We only played Texas City once in 1962 and were victorious by the score of 61-53. I remember both Cecil and Davis playing but, unfortunately, I don’t know how well they did.

Coach Henry tried to pound into our heads that Texas City was capable of beating any team in the area on a given night. We had better not take them lightly. At this time of the season, Coach was beginning to show signs of stress and anxiety and several of us had noticed. Jimmie Dale, Ronnie Wilkening, and I discussed how much his demeanor had changed during the last couple of weeks. Ronnie suggested we talk with him in an informal way and try to get him to be a little more relaxed. We decided against that approach, mainly because we did not know what his reaction would be. Furthermore, we were just teenagers and began to wonder if there was any coach alive that would want to listen to our advice on their emotional state. We slowly began to listen to reason until the consensus among the three of us was that it was basically a dumb idea and we should not pursue it. Sanity prevailed. Besides, winning would alleviate any stress and anxiety Coach had at the time., So the three of us decided that winning would probably be easier than talking to our coaches anyway. Ever notice how older teenagers think they can solve every problem? Well, we were no different. All we had to do was win. At the time, it looked like such a simple thing to do. Wasn’t it true that everybody knew about the legendary basketball teams at Clear Creek? That should be worth 10 points a game in itself. As it turned out, though, the 17 and 18 year old kids on the 1963 Clear Creek team would have to learn how to win the hard way.

When the time came to match up with Texas City, we had to play the first game on their home court. We got off to a quick start and lead at the end of the half by a score of 32-27. However, they won both the 3rd and 4th quarters and, consequently, the game, 60-57. Cecil Sellers scored 27 points and Davis Blanton scored 22. The rest of the team had a total of 11 points. I scored 31 but don‘t know about the other players on the team. My mother always kept a scrapbook on her boys as well as her grandson, Jimmie Dale. The article on this game only had my name in it. There was not a box score.

When the game was over, the Texas City crowd stormed the floor. You would have thought they had just won the state championship. Probably, winning the county championship was almost as important to them. In order to do so, they would have to defeat Clear Creek twice, something that had not happened in several years. Now, however, they were halfway there.

Through the years when we competed, Cecil and Davis and I would talk with each other when we played and when we met at another team‘s game. Unfortunately, though, when the three of us graduated from high school, we lost touch with each other. Too bad. They were really good young men and excellent basketball players. If we could meet today, I am confident that our play from 46 years ago would have drastically improved over the years. We all seem to get better as time passes.

The Stingarees came to our place for the second game and we just knew they couldn’t beat us twice. They had defeated us at their place in the first game, but we were playing in our gym this time and things would be different. There was a really large crowd but, unfortunately, the only difference was that they didn’t score 60 points this time. They “just” scored 57. The regrettable thing is we only scored 54 and, consequently, lost again. Two loses to a Galveston County team in one year. How embarrassing. However, our coaches would not let us get down on ourselves. They emphasized to us that we had a chance for redemption during the Christmas break when we played in the Houston Jaycee Tournament. That would be our one last chance to fine tune our club before we were to play the first district game against Deer Park, our biggest rival.

Houston Furr was our first tourney opponent and proved to be an admirable one. They scratched, clawed, kicked, tripped, and elbowed us in our most physical game of the year. They were really dirty players and seemed to take great pride in it. Although Furr had more field goals than us, we made twice as many free-throws and won by a score of 54-45. I had my lowest point total of the year at 7 points so I, obviously, did not contribute a whole lot to the win.

After the game a strange thing happened to me, The mother of one of the Furr players met me on the floor and let me know in a raised voice that, although Furr may have lost the game, they succeeded in shutting me down. I immediately thought, “what a goofy thing for anybody to say,” and when it is coming from a mom, it is even more ridiculous. I wanted to tell her that the ability of one team to shut an opposing player down was not that big of a deal. That kind of thing happens all the time. The objective was for the team to win the game, something she obviously knew nothing about. I restrained myself and, much to my surprise, didn’t say anything. Instead, I simply joined my teammates and adjourned to the locker room. Teammates are wonderful people and a lot of fun, especially when another a player has a mom from the opposing team walk out on the court and, in front of everybody, reprimands him. I received a lot of teasing during the next few days as a result of the “FURRy Witch Incident“.

The next team we played in the tournament was Houston Jeff Davis. Coach Henry wanted us to match-up with some of the best teams in the area, just so we could see what our weaknesses were and work to correct them before district play started. Davis had a big 6’8” player named Darrell Hardy. He was actually going to graduate at the end of the first semester but, unfortunately, it did not come quick enough for us. He had already committed to Baylor, so the Jaycee Tournament was to be his last high school games. I had the opportunity to talk with him afterwards and found him to be a likeable guy with a somewhat reserved attitude. I let him know, though, that I wish he had already enrolled in Baylor.

Darrell wasn’t the only good player on their team but he was the heart and soul. When he left at mid-term, they dropped from being a very good team to just a good team.. I‘m not sure they even won the district that year. Nonetheless, we were humiliated by the score of 55-33. The 22 point loss was the largest margin of defeat I was ever associated with throughout high school. The only thing we learned from the Davis experience was to not play them again, at least not while Darrell Hardy was on the team. What a way to get ready for the first district game, getting beat by 22 points. To make matters worse, the game with Deer Park was going to be played in their gym, a very tough place to play. The question on everybody’s mind was, could we recover from such a resounding defeat by Davis and be ready to play another very good team in Deer Park? We had less than a week to prepare ourselves and block the humiliating loss to Davis out of our minds.

James Collins and Wayne (Fleecy) Townsend shared the same playing position and split time on the floor almost in half. James was a much better shooter than Fleecy and had a little better control of the game. He didn’t shoot the ball much but was very adept at getting it the right people. If we had kept assist numbers back then, I am sure James would have led the team. All players want to play a lot during the games and James was no exception. Team members felt comfortable when he was on the floor because we knew he would more than likely make the right decisions. He had been involved in the Clear Creek system of basketball from elementary through high school and knew it as well as anybody. He was the type of unselfish player each team must have in order to be successful.

Fleecy was the smallest guy on the team but, by far, the quickest. He was an excellent ball handler and could break nearly any press thrown at him. At times he moved so fast, he would run past the ball he was dribbling. However, when he was under control, which was most of the time, there was not anybody better in our district at penetrating the defense and getting the ball to the open man. However, in a close game, Coach definitely didn’t want Fleecy on the court. He was afraid that Fleecy would get fouled and be forced to shoot free throws. His shooting skills are legendary. The little guy was just an awful shooter, but he knew that and worked hard to improve. Sadly, though, Fleecy was one of those players that would never get much better at shooting the basketball, even if he shot it four or five hours a day all year long. There are a few people in the basketball world like that. Some even make it all the way to the professional level. Two of the best examples would be Shaquille O’Neal and followed closely by everyone’s favorite, Dennis Rodman (I apologize for even mentioning his name). The players around Fleecy didn’t concern themselves too much about his shooting woes. He wasn’t expected to shoot much and he didn’t have a problem with that. His tenacious defense, excellent ball-handling skills, and good court savvy earned him a lot of playing time.

Because Fleecy and James were such fierce competitors, it was only natural that each one thought he should be playing more than the other guy. James actually felt that way more than Fleecy. Maybe it was because he was a senior and Fleecy was a junior. In about the eighth or ninth game of the year, one of them got to play nearly the entire game, much to the chagrin of the other. It quickly became an intense rivalry that soon escalated into bitter feelings between the two. The other players and I sensed a potential problem that could eventually hurt the team. A few of us talked informally with both boys and encouraged them to think of the team first and everything else would fall into place. We told them that both were critical to our team and would play a major role in any success we might have in district and the playoffs. Evidently, Coach Henry must have noticed the building rift and began to play both boys at the same time for three of four games. Maybe Coach did not know about the hard feelings but merely wanted to experiment with both players in the game at the same time. Whatever the reason, it worked. James and Fleecy began to encourage each other and would discuss what the opponent was doing when one of them had to leave the game and the other took his place. Without this single incident being resolved, I am convinced that our season would have been much more difficult than it was. Would we have won state? I doubt it. In fact, we probably would not have gone very far in the playoffs, even if we won the district. We had to have both James and Fleecy working together for us to be successful. They were just that important to our team.

Deer Park had always been the biggest rival of every team I played on in both my junior high days as well as my high school years. During those six years, a player named Jimmie Meekins was always their best player. He and I actually became somewhat friendly and really respected and liked playing each other. Jimmie was the leader of the 1962-63 team and wanted nothing more than to beat Clear Creek before graduating. This year was his last chance. The teams I played on had never lost to Deer Park and wanted desperately to keep that record intact. Furthermore, it was our first district game and we had an obligation to add to the 79 consecutive district wins, a record that was sacred to our team as well as to our fans.

While riding the bus on the way to Deer Park, several of us talked about the Clear Creek tradition and how the players from those great teams in the 50’s and early 60’s had built that tradition and had left their legacy’s for all of us to learn from. We brought up many of the players names and told stories of how we had watched them play while we were in elementary and junior high, and how we wanted to be just like them “when we grew up.”

Boonie Wilkening was one of the first names brought up. Besides, Ronnie, Boonie’s little brother, Jimmie Dale and I were the only people on the bus that actually saw him play. The school was called Webster during Boonie’s time simply because it was located in the town of Webster. The new Clear Creek High School had not been built at that time.

We were now on our way to Deer Park in an attempt to win our first district game. After we win the district and the season ends, maybe people will begin to think of us as one of the great Clear Creek teams. By the time the bus arrived, we were confident of our first district win. After all, we had the Clear Creek tradition on our side and it was something special.

The gym at Deer Park was already packed by halftime of the junior varsity game. Some of the people were allowed to stand on the gym floor area away from the end lines which created an overflow atmosphere. We always enjoyed playing in front of a large crowd unless they were like the fans at Channelview. Those people were obnoxious and used some profanity that most of us had never heard before. I was always glad to get out of that place alive. The Deer Park fans seemed to be respectful and were more knowledgeable than most. It was usually fun playing in front of them.

Coach Henry gave us the usual, “Shut ‘Em Out,” talk before we left the locker room to warm up. We were excited and ready to play. No one was more excited than Ronnie Wilkening. He was probably the one player that exhibited his true feelings more than any other. He was a very emotional guy that did not try to hold it back, whether it be anxious, excitement, or getting upset with himself for not playing up to his expectations. Sometimes, he would get so excited that we had to try and calm him down a little before playing a game. During warm-ups before the Deer Park game was one of those times that we had to talk him down from his emotional frenzy. He was a fierce competitor and one of the best overall athletes I have ever been around. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do athletically. I, along with everybody else, really liked playing on the same team with him.

The game started slowly with both teams using a zone on defense. Three minutes had elapsed before I scored the first points for our team on a field goal. Shortly thereafter, I hit the next four attempts and I thought we were off and running. At the end of the first quarter, we held a 15-9 lead. The Deer out scored us in the second quarter 13-10 but the Wildcats took a 25-20 point lead at the half. At the beginning of the third quarter, we jumped out to a quick nine point lead forcing Deer Park’s coach, Cotton Watkins, to called a time out. When play resumed, Dear Park abandoned their zone and went into a pressing man-to-man defense all over the floor. As a result, we had a few costly turnovers and, before we knew it, they had tied the score with us at 34-34. The lead changed hands four times in the fourth quarter until Chuck Stamper hit a jumper to put us up at 41-38. With just 57 seconds to go, Jimmie Meekins, Deer Park’s best player, made two free throws that cut our lead to one point at 43-42. When we tried stalling the ball, Robert Wommack stole it and was fouled attempting a lay-up. With 15 seconds left, he made both free throws that put the Deer ahead by one point at 44-43. Deer Park shot a torrid 67% from the field the first half and 58% the second half. Compared to them, we shot a lowly 45% the first half and 43% the second. Fortunately, we won the rebounding battle by 17-5 in order to offset their hot shooting. Although both teams played really well, in the end, the 79 district game win streak was no more. I never thought at anytime during the game that we would lose until Deer Park scored in the closing seconds putting them ahead by one point, 44-43. I remember thinking for a brief moment that this couldn’t be happening; we can’t lose a district game. For the first time all season, I was afraid of losing. After that game, I never felt that same fear again, whether it was in high school or in college.

The closing seconds of the game seemed like they were an hour long. After Robert Womack made the two free throws with 15 seconds left., Jimmie Dale moved the ball down the court and found Chuck Stamper just outside the low post. At a little over six foot, Chuck was forced to play in the post because of his outstanding jumping and rebounding ability. This time, though, he only had to make a quick move and convert a short 6-8 footer for us to come away with a win. The shot was good and there was joy from the Clear Creek side. We had dodged lightening, or so it seemed. Then, as if the wind had shifted, the Deer Park fans were jumping up and down, running on the court, and embracing each other. Evidently, the time keeper was indicating that the buzzer had sounded before the ball was released from Chuck’s hand. For the next three or four minutes, there was a lot of confusion. Coach Henry was at the scorer’s table speaking to the time keeper about his call. I was actually in a very good position on the court to see the ball go in the basket at the same time the clock went to zero. To some people, that may sound like wishful thinking or sour grapes, but I know beyond any doubt that the shot was good. I walked over to the time keeper and told him what I saw, thinking that he was a rational man and would surely believe me. Not so. He told me the shot was no good and that is the way it would stand. I told him he was wrong and left the court.

I was the first person in the dressing room and sat down on the bench with my head in my hands. Thoughts were running through my head so fast that I could not even think rationally. I felt like crying but held it back, fearful of what other people might think, me being a senior and all. Still, I was very angry at the time keeper and extremely disappointed that we had let down each other, our coaches, our fans, and the other Clear Creek teams that had built such a winning tradition before us.

When we got in tough situations throughout the year, Coach Henry would always know the right thing to say when we lost a game. This time, there was no exception. He told us he was proud of our efforts and it was just one loss but we couldn’t afford any others. We would go back to work the next morning and correct the things we did poorly and build on the things we did well. Most importantly, and the thing I remember the most, he had not lost confidence in us and believed that we still had a chance to be a very good basketball team.

Needless to say, it was a long ride back home. After arriving at our campus, I drove immediately to my girl friend’s house in Seabrook where I was expecting to receive a little understanding and absolutely no criticism about the game. She was Kenneth and Norman Lunday’s sister and had grown up around basketball so I thought she might say something like, “ya’ll really tried hard and played well but the score keeper cheated.” Instead, I got a barrage of questions like, “why didn’t ya’ll play better defense, and why didn’t you shoot better, and why didn’t ya’ll take better care of the ball at the end, and why did ya’ll foul the boy that stole the ball and allowed him to make the last two free throws that won the game?” I wondered to myself if this was the way our other fans were reacting. If it was, I was going into hiding for awhile. It was obvious that she was not going to be very understanding that night so I got ready to leave. Then, I heard the local television sports announcer say there was a big upset in high school basketball so I sat down to listen. It was all about Deer Park beating Clear Creek and stopping all those winning streaks established over the years. He rambled on and on until I finally got up and left. I’d heard enough.

At practice the next morning, Coaches Henry and Talley greeted us with very positive attitudes. Surprisingly, the players attitudes were upbeat as well. Not one person was hanging their head. Maybe some of it was due to the fact that we were going to have another shot at Deer Park and, this time, it would be in our place with our own score keepers. Although our confidence was somewhat shaken at the time, starting another long winning streak would take care of that.

The reason we seemed to recover from the Deer Park loss so quickly could have been because Dickinson was the next game on our schedule. We had them marked on our calendar ever since our tournament when we had only beat them 48-41 in the championship game. Both their players and their fans behaved in what we perceived as cockiness after the game. I suppose they actually thought coming close in one game would give them a definite advantage the next time we met. As it turned out, coming close was just a moral victory for them, if there ever was such a thing. No need to remind us about our pledge to beat Dickinson in district by at least thirty points in each of the two games. We reminded ourselves and were anxious to play them again.

It is hard to imagine Dickinson holding down first place in district after one game but that is exactly what happened. Although they shared the top spot with two other teams, it is still unbelievable that they would be there at all. Not only were they 1-0 in district but they were 10-4 overall and people were beginning to talk about them being a contender. It is important to note that Dickinson beat Alvin in their first game, 41-33. That Alvin loss would become very significant to our chances at winning the district championship as the season progressed. Winning creates excitement and the Gators certainly were excited when they came to our gym for the second district game for both teams. A wild bunch of people, mostly students, parents, and loyal Dickinson fans, traveled the four miles to our gym and began to make an exorbitant amount of noise as early as the junior varsity game. By the beginning of the varsity game, the noise level from both sides had increased to an almost deafening roar. I can’t remember ever playing a game at home that was that loud. However, after the game started, it didn’t take long before Dickinson’s side became ghostly quiet.

The closest Dickinson ever got to us was when the score was 2-0 in our favor. It got real nasty after that. Every player on the varsity got to play and most got in the scoring column. Our defense held them to 18% shooting while our club connected at 45.5%. They only had three field goals the first three quarters and six for the entire game. We won by the score of 69-35, making true our commitment to beat them by 30 points. That was the 25th straight win for Clear Creek over Dickinson teams in an 11 year period. Now, we were 1-1 in district and were beginning to feel real good about our chances. Channelview and LaPorte were next on our schedule and these were two teams we had traditionally handled with ease over the years. Both should be fun.

Channelview was a place that I really didn’t like to visit at any time, much less when we had to play a game there. There fans were probably the worst in the district and the players were just plain dirty. They would do things like elbowing us in the back when rebounding, slapping us on our privates when blocking out, pinching our legs, and tripping whomever got in the way. Of course, all of this was done when the referees were not looking. Bennie demonstrated to me at times how he would get the advantage on another player that was either taller, stronger, or could jump better than he could. Holding his opponent down by placing his free hand on his shoulder during a jump ball was one of the tactics used. Another was, while playing defense, coming up quickly with a hand and tapping the shooter on the elbow, throwing his shot off just enough to barely miss. I learned and practiced both techniques until I got good at using them when the opportunity presented itself. I taught both to my teammates and we practiced them on each other until they felt comfortable enough to use them. The key to being successful was not to do them too often. After awhile the referees would catch one of us and we couldn’t use them the rest of that game. Usually, it was our opponent’s coach or one of the players that would tell the officials what was happening. Some may call that cheating. Most of the time, we called it basketball ingenuity. When playing Channelview, we called it payback.

Channelview had a new basketball coach named Wilson Richardson. Evidently, he had a successful career at a school called Laneville. He was the fourth basketball coach at Channelview in the last four years. Why he wanted to come to Channelview is a mystery. He was a friendly guy, though, but a little bit different than what I was used to seeing in a coach. For instance, when we got to the gym, the varsity players set in the stands while the junior varsity got dressed. Coach Richardson and Coach Henry talked to each other for a couple of minutes and, then, Coach Richardson walked up into the stands and took a seat right beside me. He informed me that he knew who I was and had been following our season with interest. Then, he said, “you won’t have any trouble scoring 25-30 points tonight and your team will win easily. There is not one player in all of Channelview that is any good. None of my players could even play for your team.” Then, he said a couple of words to a few of the other guys, wished us “good luck,” and left. I never had an opposing coach visit with me before playing his team. However strange, though, he was right in both statements. I had a good night shooting the ball, we trounced them by the score of 54-29, and there wasn‘t a basketball player in all of Channelview. It was a happy moment when our bus pulled out of the parking lot and we left Channelview, never to return. After this decisive win, we were now 2-1 in district.

Prior to the district season, La Porte was predicted to be one of the district’s top rated teams and had a legitimate chance to win it all. A lot of the players on our team went to LaPorte at least once a month in order to take in a movie, go bowling, or just hang-out at one of their drive-ins. Some of the time, two or three of us would go to by ourselves and, at other times, we might each take a girl and go as a double or triple-date. The boys didn’t have to necessarily be on the basketball team but, more often than not they were. We were not fortunate enough to have those types of entertainment centers in League City, so the only choices were Dickinson and La Porte. Because I never knew anybody that wanted to go to Dickinson on purpose, that left us with La Porte. As a result, we got to meet some really neat kids and made quiet a few friends as well. Some were basketball players.

The players we did meet were not very confident about their chances with us. Like most other teams in the district, they were aware of our tradition and often told us how fortunate we were to play for a school like Clear Creek. They never sounded like a team that was considered as one of the top rated teams in the district. They lacked the confidence necessary to be very good.

La Porte was 0-2 when they came calling to our place and left it still winless in district. Tied at 7-7 the first quarter, we out scored them 16-7 in the second to take a commanding halftime lead of 23-14. Neither team showed much offense the first half and that trend continued into the second half, although we built a 17 point lead at the end of three quarters. The final score was 48-35. Jimmie Dale ended the game with 10 points and I had 18. Chuch Kilgore, one of the top reserves, had 6 points, which was an example of what was to come for him. Our district record now stood at 3-1.

La Marque was one of those teams that was fun to play against throughout my high school career. We usually beat them but they usually had just enough talent to make it interesting. The only difference about the 1963 team was that the Tigers didn’t have as much talent as normal. We felt good going into the game, mainly because we were winning again and the prospect of being able to claim the district championship was clearly in our hands

.Just as Clear Creek always seemed to have a Lenox on the team, La Marque always had a Wolters on theirs. None of them were great players but they were fairly consistent. They were all brothers but looked so much alike one would think they were the product of a multi-birth. Each one was usually the best player on the team, but that wasn’t saying much. However, Coach Henry had us believing that La Marque was a formidable opponent and we should not take them lightly. He thought that, as the coach, it was his job to make sure we didn’t.

We jumped out to a seven point lead at the quarter and maintained a 10 point lead at the half. In the dressing room, I remember that both Coach Henry and Coach Talley were pleased we were ahead but were not pleased with our overall effort. They were particularly critical of our ball handling, shot selection, and defensive rebounding. It wasn’t the best “chewing out” job they did during the year but it certainly got our attention. Neither of the coaches made it a practice to admonish us very much so, when it did happen, we paid close attention.

I guess we played a little better after the half because both coaches were positive about some things we had done. Jimmie Dale had a very good night by pumping in 27 points, his second best offensive production of the year. However the player the whole team was proud of most for that game was a youngster named Chuck Kilgore. Chuck and I were very good friends and played a lot of basketball together throughout our years in school. He was one of those guys that would meet with other players at the gym during the unofficial “midnight madness” days. We would usually stay after school and shoot around nearly every day. We would also have some sandlot basketball games at the League City Park located across the street from the grocery store his dad owned with his two brothers. When I turned fourteen, I was hired by Mr. Charles Kilgore, Chuck’s dad, to work at the store as one of the boys that sacked groceries. On a few occasions, Chuck would ask his dad if he and I could be excused so we could shoot a little basketball at the park for an hour or so. When there was a down time, Mr. Kilgore would always oblige and would not even dock our 75 cents an hour wages. If the store was busy, we had to stay and work.

Chuck literally loved basketball and would do anything to please the coaches. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to play very much unless we were comfortably ahead in the game. We all wanted Chuck to have some extra playing time and hoped it would come soon. Well, it happened the night we played La Marque. Chuck scored an amazing 22 points in the game, second only to Jimmie Dale’s 27. In the locker room after the game, every player and coach was thrilled about Chuck’s performance. He got hugs, slaps on the back, and handshakes from everybody. There was even a crowd of people waiting for him when he left the dressing room. It was one of the most exciting and prideful moments for our team throughout the entire year. It was really something special.

We easily won the game by the score of 73-48. Our district record now stood at 4-1.

While winning comfortably over La Marque, we learned that Deer Park had lost 40-35 at La Porte. Imagine them losing to La Porte of all people. Prior to playing Deer Park, La Porte had not won a single district game. We were right where we wanted to be, right back in it and controlling our own destiny. Deer Park, Alvin, and Clear Creek were now tied with one loss each. Lowly Dickinson had beaten Alvin their first game in district play, so how good could they be? The Yellow Jackets were coming to our gym on Friday and, when we beat them, Deer Park and us would be tied for the lead. We had a bye on Tuesday, but Alvin and Deer Park were to close out the 1st round district play by playing each other in Alvin. After we whip Alvin on Friday, and, hopefully, Alvin beats Deer Park on Tuesday, the Clear Creek Wildcats will be alone at the top which is exactly where they should be.

Alvin was a team that was pretty much a secret to most of the teams in the district. They didn’t receive any hype from the media so my teammates and I thought they were probably like one of the four teams we had just beaten. We had Deer Park after them and our minds were set on nothing but the sweetest kind of revenge with that bunch. No way were we were going to lose to Alvin. That possibility was never brought up.

We knew they had another Roland kid and his name was Jackie. He was there best scorer and the one person our coaches were concerned about. Like Jimmie Meekins from Deer Park, I had played against Jackie for several years but only spoke with him while on the court. Overall, we might have been a little taller than them but, when Fleecy Townsend came in, our height advantage shrunk. The coaches told us that Alvin’s strong point was their defense but were probably better than average shooters. However, the thought kept coming back to the players that Dickinson had beat them and we won over Dickinson by 34 points, so how good could they really be? That kind of simple reasoning would come back to bite us in a nasty way.

The first game with Alvin was undoubtedly the worst game I played all year. We dug ourselves a hole and, no matter how hard we tried to come back, we couldn’t. Personally, I still believe that I alone did more to lose the game than Alvin did to win it. They were a decent team but certainly not somebody we should have lost to. My shooting was atrocious, I did not rebound well, and a sense of urgency did not show until the last minute of the game. Throughout the entire contest, I thought that it was just a matter of time until we were going to put everything together and begin to click as a team. It never happened.

I couldn’t find a newspaper article on the game so I am going to use Dan Jensen’s coverage of it in, “Our Championship Year,” that is found on this blog.

We were down 17-11 at the end of the first quarter but cut the deficit to only one at 26-25 by halftime. However, the Wildcat locker room was not the place to be during the halftime break. Coaches Henry and Talley were usually fairly calm and easy going men, at least around the players. However, they let loose their frustration in the longest ten minutes of my life. Both were very angry and openly demonstrated it. The first one in the locker room was Coach Talley, usually the calmer of the two. His voice was raised, his veins were bulging, and he blasted us as a team. According to him, the shooting was poor, rebounding was non-existent, and we might as well not be playing any defense, it was so bad. After finishing, he took a deep breath, shook his head, and grunted loudly before stepping back. Now, it was Coach Henry’s turn. Surely he could find something we did right. Not so. If possible, he even looked a little more angry than Coach Talley. He started out speaking to us in a loud voice and it stayed that way throughout the entire time he was talking. He criticized our efforts and questioned our desire to win. Questioning our desire to win was a blow to our team‘s ego. Neither coach had ever questioned our desire to win. We all wanted to say something abut that but Chuck Stamper was the only one brave enough to raise his hand. He said, “Coach, we do have the will to win.” Coach Henry immediately yelled back, “well, show it. I’m certainly not seeing it on the court.” That got our attention because none of us wanted to have our coaches think that we didn’t care whether we won or not. Later, after sharing it with each other, all the players concluded that the coaches were just angry at that moment and they had a right to be. We were playing really badly. There better be some improvement in the second half or we were going to be in deep trouble.

Unfortunately, the second half was a repeat of the first. Alvin out scored us 17 to 12 in the third quarter and led by 43-37 going into the fourth. Then, they went at a much slower pace in an attempt to run some of the time off the clock. However, we were fortunate to pick up some loose balls and eventually made the game close.

Alvin was ahead by two points with only seconds to play when I got fouled in the act of shooting. The score at the time was 48-46. Make both and we go into overtime which is where we win the game. My first shot rimmed in and out. Coach Henry called timeout so we could discuss strategy that could get us the ball back. We still had a chance. Coach told me to bounce the ball off the side of the rim so either Chuck Stamper or Ronnie Wilkening could rebound and put it back in the basket. The plan was for the ball to bounce twice, throwing off the Alvin inside players, and giving one of ours a better chance to rebound. Trying as I might to miss, the second shot was good. We fouled the first Alvin player with the ball, and the game ended with him making a free throw. The final score was 49-47. Instead of us of sharing first place with Deer Park, Alvin won that privilege. We now had two district losses in the first round. Who would have thought it? Our record was now 4-2 with the first round complete. Shameful.

On the Wednesday after losing to Alvin, the University of Houston had a college day of some sort for high school seniors specifically for the school from around the Houston area. During that day, I probably had between 30-40 students from other schools along with two basketball coaches that I knew ask me if we were going to win district. After telling the first few that we were going to do our best to do just that, I finally got enough and told the others, “you dang right and we’re going to win state, too.” I didn’t know it at the time, but that statement proved to be accurate and somewhat prophetic.

After losing to Alvin on Tuesday, we drew a bye for Friday. We were the only team in district that had completed the first round with everybody else finishing on Friday. The Deer Park vs. Alvin game drew top billing for that night and Coach Henry went to watch it. Both had one loss so it was for the sole possession of first place going into the second round. It was evident to us now that we couldn’t lose another game so it really didn’t matter to us which team won. We still had to win all of ours in order to have a chance to win the district. Anyway, Alvin won. Deer Park was now tied with us for second and we would play them on Tuesday in our gym. It was the first of six must win games for us to close out district.

There wasn’t any doubt that we had dug ourselves a hole going into the second round. However, our team rallied around and supported each other more than we had all year. We became an even closer team than we were before. Deer Park, Clear Creek’s old nemesis, was coming to town on Tuesday and we were expecting a very large crowd. Announcements were made multiple times during school in an attempt to have the students come out in force. As a result, our fans probably out numbered Deer Park’s by 3 to 1.

The coaches went over how the Deer played us the first time and they were sure the same tactics would be used in the second game. In January, they started out defensively in a zone, then switched to a pressing man-to-man. We got ready for both but actually spent more time attacking their man defense. The coaches felt like poor execution against the man is what ultimately made us lose the game. We were not going to let that happen again.

Deer Park’s game plan was to run a time consuming ball control offense. That would keep us on defense most of the time and limit our scoring opportunities. Their strategy worked during the first half because they led by four points and we only had a total of 16. Hard to score when a team only has the ball a short amount of the time.

Our coaches weren’t nearly as upset with us at halftime as they were in the Alvin game. In fact, as we were preparing to go back out on the court, Coach Henry said, “We’re going to win this game. Understand? We’re going to win this game.” I don’t recall him ever being that emphatic about winning a game. By the time he got through, we were ready to run through a wall. Nothing was going to keep us from beating Deer Park. The third quarter proved it. Coach had us bring out the 1-3-1 zone out a little further than normal and put a little more pressure on the ball, making Deer Park shoot faster than they wanted. It worked. By the end of the quarter, we had a nine point lead, 32-23. We scored 20 points in the fourth quarter to Deer Park’s 14 and won in convincing fashion by the score of 52-37. It’s amazing but we outscored Deer Park 36-17 in the 2nd half. Again, revenge is sweet. Our record in district moved up to 5-2 with a very good chance to go on a confidence building winning streak.

After the game, a newspaper photographer got me and said he would like to take a picture of Jimmie Meekins and me together. As I said before, Jimmie was a friendly person and somebody I had competed against and knew since the 7th grade. We played in some classic games throughout the years and he is a player I will never forget.

Coach Henry reminded us daily that the season was ours now for the taking. We had already won convincingly against Deer Park and now must play our best basketball of the year in the next five games. He also said that winning district should always be the most important goal for any team entering a new season. To him, it was the fans that expected every Clear Creek team to make it to the state tournament in order to label that team a success. He even said that there were some of us that had the same distant goal drilled into us so much that we had lost focus on our immediate and most important goal of winning district.

He was absolutely right. Going to Austin was what our fellow students, parents, and fans wanted most to talk about until we had lost two district games. Then, all thoughts and conversations turned to just winning district. As players, we had gotten caught up in the “state” phenomenon as much as everybody else. We had heard the chant, “We Want State,” from the opening tip off against Galena Park and immediately thought our team would not be considered successful unless we made it to the antiquated gym in Austin called, Gregory. We changed our thinking and began to tell the fans that winning district had to be our first priority before we could make t to Austin. That’s all we wanted to concentrate on at the present time. We couldn’t afford to look too far down the road for fear that another “no-name” team would take us down. Dickinson was the next team on our schedule so we turned all of our attention to them.

We won in Dickinson with a far smaller crowd for the home team than in the first game at our place. The game was never close, from the opening tip to the final buzzer. The final score was 62-34 but could have been much worse. The 28 point win was just two points shy of the goal of 30 point wins we had set to beat Dickinson in district after they played us close in the Clear Creek Tournament. For a team that had started district play so promising with a five point win over Alvin, they reverted back to the Dickinson of old and really stunk up the place. I really think our junior varsity would have won against their varsity. Other than winning, the best thing that happened in the game was that the substitutes got to play a lot of minutes. I remember sitting on the bench during the fourth quarter with Chuck Stamper and Jimmie Dale and having a good time watching the others play. It was always a lot of fun whipping up on Dickinson, especially when they thought there was a chance they might win. Our district record moved to 6-2, one game behind Alvin for the lead with four big games to go. Our goal continued to be focused on winning the district and not being concerned about going to state.

Next, Chanelview came to town and it was the same song, fiftieth verse. However, the rowdy fans that they had become know for more than their basketball playing, stayed at home. The only noticeable people cheering for them were some of the parents. Before the game, some of us discussed the thought of whether or not some of the resident town idiots would actually dare to make the trip to League City in support of their team. We were glad to see that they didn’t. Nonetheless, one of their star football players came and showed himself as the poster boy for Channelview athletics. I can’t remember his name but can see his face like it was yesterday. He was an awful player and had no business on the court. When his coach put him in, every player on our team would cringe for fear that the Charles Atlas look-alike would be guarding him. The boy was well built, very muscular and extremely aggressive. While in the game, he would push, grab, and chatter the whole time on the court. I think he spoke in English but it was hard to tell. I really believe he was nuts. It was evident to our players that his coach sent him in to disrupt our play as much as possible. He normally didn’t last too long, though, because of fouling difficulty. However, while he was in, it seemed to us that his primary goal was to hurt somebody. He became known throughout the district as the Dick Butkus of the basketball court.

As best I can remember, there was two players on Channelview that could have been fairly good basketball players. The problem was, they were playing on a bad team with a coach that didn’t think they could win. In fact, remember me telling you about their coach saying there was not a basketball player in all of Channelview? Most likely, his thoughts leaked out to his players at some time during the year and that is enough to destroy a players self-esteem. Through it all, though, it was a good time for our reserves to get a lot of playing time. When that happens, it makes for a better relationship among all the players and brings a strong cohesiveness to the team as well.

We easily won over Channelview by 26 pints, 78-52. Our district record was now 7-2, still one game behind Alvin. However, we were improving quickly.

La Porte was the next district team to fall to the Wildcats. They had beaten Deer Park in the first round and we were reminded of that in the practices leading up to the contest. The Bulldogs were one of the teams that was supposed to challenge for the district championship at the beginning of the season. They were improving but were too far back in the pack to be a realistic contender at this time. Still, Coach again reminded us that nothing would make their season than to be able to knock Clear Creek out of contention. By doing so, they would make many friends in the district, especially the people from Alvin.

I had my personal best scoring night against La Porte with 37 points, 21 in the first half. I was 15 for 29 from the field and made all seven free throws. However, to this day, I still cannot believe that I actually attempted 29 shots. While in college, I shot 25 times once and thought that was a lot.

La Porte stayed close for a little while by making 50% of their field goals attempts in the first half. I’m sure we heard about that during halftime. We shot 53.6% which was very good. We came out in the 2nd half with much better defensive intensity and forced them into shooting a miserable 32%. La Porte also was guilty of committing a multitude of mistakes which we converted into scores. We also held them to just four field goals the 2nd half. We were now 8-2 in district but still behind that pesky Alvin bunch by one game. However, we couldn’t be thinking about the Yellow Jackets when the La Marque Tigers were wanting to ambush us and, if successful, it would literally make their season, one that had been filled with disappointments.

We won the game 68-42 and increased our district record to 8-2 with only two games to go.

La Marque was the only team standing in the way with the big showdown we were bound to have with Alvin. Believe me, the coaches never let us look talk about Alvin until we had taken care of the Tigers. On paper, we should not have any problem with them. However, we weren’t going to play the game on paper but, instead, on the court. Throughout the district in the second half, much of our success can be given to the little 10 or 12 point spurts we had at various times in the games. Playing La Marque was no exception. At times they stayed with us but then would come one of those patented scoring spurts. Jimmie Dale took it on himself at one point and scored twelve straight to push us to a comfortable lead. Eventually, we led by 33 points before the reserves came in and got their usual quarter of play. Toward the end of the game with the starters on the bench, someone in the stands started a chant about either beating Alvin, bring on Alvin, or something similar to that. While we should have been watching the reserves play, the starters began talking among themselves about Alvin and what we had to do to win. We didn’t know but our coaches had already devised a plan to play Alvin and it involved some changes that, at the beginning, were a little controversial but proved to be an extremely smart move. It would take a buy-in from the entire team to pull it off, though.

We won over La Marque, 78-55, and had pushed our record to 10-2. Now we were going to play our biggest game of the year. We had outscored our opponents in the 2nd half of district play by an average of 25.4 points and kept them to an average of 47.6 points per game. Our team had increased their offensive production from 55.6 a game in the 1st half to 67 points per game in the second. As a result, we felt awfully good about our team and were ready to win over Alvin in a big way. However, if it couldn’t be done in a big way, we would take it anyway possible.

Our goal was to win and force a playoff. Prior to our workouts before the Alvin game, Coach Henry called me into his office. He let me know that he was going to make a change in our offensive scheme that was designed especially for the Alvin game. He caught me a little by surprise in that I thought our offense was doing fine right now the way it was and, besides, wasn’t it kind of late in the year to be making a change big enough that he would have to talk with me personally? My first thought was that I was going to be placed in the post area which is where I would normally be if Alvin ran a box and one or some other quirky defense. However, I was more than willing to do whatever necessary for us to win. Then he said that I was going to be the guy to bring the ball down the floor so I could get more touches which should translate into more shots. Then, he said that I would need to score between 30-35 points in order for us to win. Now, I was never a guy that didn’t like to shoot. That particular gene was prominent in all the Lenox players and I was certainly no exception. But, talk about pressure.

For what seemed like an hour, the room was silent. Coach kept staring at his desk and my mouth stood open to offset the bewildered look on my face. Nobody had ever placed such a load on me and, at the moment, I was not comfortable bearing it. In fact, I didn’t know if I even could. Immediately, my mind went back to the previous spring when Coach Henry had called me into his office after he was named the new head coach and challenged me to be the leader of the team. What if I failed like the time I skipped school after Coach’s first talk and lost everybody’s trust as a result? He went on to say, “ there comes a time in every leadership player when he has to really step up in an important game and lead the team like never before. We are going with our strength and you are that person.” “Coach, I said. I will do whatever you want me to do.” He said, “I know you will and you can handle it. If there was any doubt in my mind that you couldn‘t, I would tell you.”

I wanted to know first of all what the other players would think about such an arrangement. He reassured me that they would be fine.

At the beginning of the first practice, Coach told the team that Alvin was the biggest game that any Clear Creek team will have played in many years. The other teams were not placed in a must win game in order to either win the district or be eliminated. That had not happened in at least 10 years. In order for us to have the best chance available to us, he was going to make some minor changes in the offense. He basically said that the basketball must be in my hands most of the time down the floor. We would still run our traditional tandem post but I would go either right or left off a top post screen looking for a quick shot. We worked on it every day but, even when it got to a few hours before the game, I was still having some reservations about it. However, by the time we started warming up I had bought into it a hundred percent and, thankfully, so had my teammates.

When we arrived in Alvin with the junior varsity at about 5:00 pm, there was already a hundred or so people standing in line waiting to get in the gym. It was a small arena that had a very limited seating capacity so it was imperative that people arrive before the junior varsity game in order to get a seat. By the time the junior varsity game started, the rafters were already shaking, almost as much as our nerves.

After the junior varsity game was over and the varsity had completed their warm-up, we adjourned to the dressing room for some final words of encouragement and strategy, Coach Henry showed us a telegram he had in his hand and said he had just received it from Bennie Lenox and Paul Timmins. Unfortunately, they were still playing games at A&M and would not be able to make ours. At first Coach showed signs of reading it to us himself but began to choke up and asked me to pass on their words to the team. The telegram basically said, “we wish you all the best in your game with Alvin tonight and know you will come our victorious. Then, beat them in the playoff and use that momentum to carry you all the way to state.” Signed: Bennie Lenox and Paul Timmins. Several players got very emotional and began to shed some tears. Many others were hugging, shaking hands, patting one another on the back, and ready to run through the wall.

I have written several times in this long document, how much we wanted to carry on the tradition of winning district that the previous Clear Creek teams had either started or kept going throughout the years. We listened for weeks as some of our on fans and those from other schools in our district heaped criticism on our team. They were critical when we lost two games to Texas City. They were critical when we lost to Jeff Davis by 22 points. They were critical when we lost the first district game over an 80 district game winning streak. They were beyond critical when we lost our second district game to Alvin and were in jeopardy of not winning the district for the first time in ten years. Living with that criticism is one of the reasons our team became so closely knit together and had so much respect for our coaches as well as each other.

We beat Alvin by 7 points, 55-48. I managed to do what coach said by bringing the ball down the floor and driving off picks at the high post which allowed me to take several open shots. Too bad I didn’t hit most of them, though. As a result, we were behind at the half by two points and I had only scored 11 points. Coach talked with me on the way back out of the dressing room and let me know that I was probably pressing too much; that I was thinking I had to do it all. He told me to relax a little more and, when covered, find the open man. Thankfully, I calmed down and managed to score 21 points in the 2nd half and we won the game, 55-48 setting up a playoff game with Alvin at Texas City on Saturday night.

When the playoff game started, we picked up where we had left off at Alvin. Although only ahead by six at halftime, we outscored them by twenty in the second half making the final score 66-40. I scored 27 but Jimmie Dale had the really hot hand as he hit 72% of his shots and finished the game with 23 points. My “little nephew” had played extremely well the last half of the district and was beginning to exude with confidence, not that he had ever lost much of it in the first place. Chuck Stamper had one of his best rebounding nights, an area that we had grown to expect from him all year.

Both Alvin’s team and their fans were stunned. After shaking hands with the players and their coaches, a high school girl dressed in Alvin garb from head to toe approached and gave me a congratulatory handshake. Then she said, “your team not only won, but ya’ll killed us. You and your teammates left no doubt tonight who has the best team in the district.” I will never forget what she said. More than anything, that little seemingly insignificant statement summed up all the time and effort our team had put in together in order to win a district title. After she walked off, I turned and asked James Collins and Fleecy Townsend if they thought everybody else in district would know by now that we are the champions and that the most important Clear Creek basketball streak still continues, winning district. In the locker room, it was obvious that a heavy load had been lifted and we could face our predecessors and our critics with our heads held high. Finally, we could look forward to the playoffs where the fun and excitement really intensifies. Little did we know, however, that the feeling we felt after the Alvin game would continue to grow until it created in us by the last game of the playoffs a type of euphoria that we could never have imagined existed. It became impossible to contain, but who really tried anyway?

A lesson our team learned during the season was the adage of, “take one game at a time.” After winning district, we never really talked about going to the state tournament but, instead, focused on the next game we had to play, trying to never look beyond them. Coach wouldn’t let us.

El Campo was the team we were going to play in bi-district. If I remember correctly, that is the only time a team that I was on in high school ever played them. At any rate, they obviously had a good team or they would not have won their district. Our coaches said they had two good shooters and one of them was outstanding. It didn’t take long for me to find that out after the game started. It was close at the half but we put them away fairly convincingly in the 3rd and 4th quarters. The final score was 72-56. We had a real balanced scoring attack with me getting 29, Jimmie Dale hit for 23 and Ronnie Wilkening had one of his better games with 18. Dickie Orsak, their best player and 3rd team all-state, had 26 points but fouled out with a quarter to play.

Because 3-A teams did not have a regional tournament, we only had to win one more game for the right to earn a trip to Austin. Brenham had upset a very good and favored Bridge City team, 52-47, and would play us at Rice Field House on Saturday, March 2, which just happened to be my eighteenth birthday.

Brenham was probably the second best team we played all year. Jeff Davis was the best and South San Antonio had to be thrown in with those two as well. At any rate, they were fairly equal in size to us until Fleecy came in the game. Billy Bob Barnett stood at 6-2 ½, Leslie Dolshal, their most consistent player, was listed as 6-4, and Otis Haarmeyer, although only 6-0 tall, had tremendous leaping ability. Billy Bob did a lot of the guarding on me so I got to know him very well. After high school, he went to A&M and played for the Aggies. I was told at one time that he built and owned the famous Billy Bob’s Dance Hall, Honky-Tonk, or whatever it’s name is, somewhere close to Dallas. Some of you may have visited there but, obviously, I haven’t. I’m just going by hearsay.

Evidently, in 1963, people were still allowed to smoke inside the gym while the game was going on. Brenham‘s coach, Ike Coware, smoked a pipe throughout the game. Things have certainly changed over the years and, in this case, banning smoking in public places, especially in the gym and around kids, was a good thing.

We jumped out to a huge lead by halftime and increased it to 20 points at 40-20 shortly after the beginning of the 3rd quarter. Although Brenham began to chip away in the third and early fourth quarter, we still led by 12 with a few minutes to play. Strangely, it was at the beginning of the 4th quarter that Otis Haarmeyer was called for fouling me on the worst official call of the season. Otis was on offense at the top of the post and I was playing the middle in our 1-3-1 zone. He turned and I came upon him only to have my tooth bury in his scalp as he was going up for a jump shot. He was totally in the right. I should have been called for a foul but wasn’t. I had a tooth chip off and he went to the bench momentarily with blood trickling down his forehead. Otis got screwed on that one. Instead of him shooting two shots, I was shooting a one and one and made both.

We ended up winning the game but played poorly in the closing minutes which gave Brenham the chance they wanted. Fortunately for us, they could not take advantage of the opportunity. The final score was 64-60.

Our shooting was awful. I only hit 8 of 20 field goal attempts (40%) and as a team we only managed to hit 35.1% for the game. I made 16 of 17 free throw attempts (94%) to go along with our overall team free thrown percentage of 88.9%. That was probably our team free throw percentage for any game throughout the year and it would have been much higher if Fleecy had not shot a couple. I finished the game with 32 points and Jimmie Dale had 15. I got 14 rebounds, Jimmie Dale got 10, and Ronnie Wilkening pulled down 9.

March 2 turned out to be a glorious night. The Clear Creek Wildcats were going to the Texas High School Boys State Tournament and, after the game, one of my sisters gave me a bowling ball for my birthday. Life was good.

Coach Henry received word on the next day, Sunday, that we were going to play South San Antonio in the first semi-final game in Austin on Thursday evening. The Bobcats were a team that we were very familiar with, having played them in the last two state tournaments. In 1961, we lost in the championship game by the score of 65-54. In 1962, we got a little revenge by beating them for third place, 66-56.

The 1963 versions of the two teams had a lot of new faces on both clubs, although South San didn’t have as many as we did. Other than me, there wasn’t anybody else on the team that had a lot of playing experience with the two previous teams. However, we had a full year now of playing together and we were not the same team that started the season back in November. Our confidence level was running fairly high by state tournament time.

Some of our coaches had scouted South San Antonio in their regional game with San Marcos. They had nothing but glowing remarks to say about both teams. San Marcos was coached by Bill Krueger and South San was coached by Jimmy Littleton, both having played on Southwest Texas State’s basketball teams in different eras. Bill Overall from San Marcos and Larry Black from South San were the best players on their respected teams and both played basketball with me at Southwest Texas State during the mid-60’s. Larry actually became my best friend and road trip roommate. He was, and still is, one of the best people I have ever known. Needless to say, though, I gave both boys a few jabs about who had the best team. All I ever needed to say was, “show me your championship trophy and I’ll show you ours.” The conversation always ended at that point.

In the scouting report, Coach Talley told us that South San had a 5-10 red-headed guard that shot with his left hand and was very accurate. It was a must that we know where he was at all times. He and Bill actually had a shootout but Larry’s team won in a hard fought and close game. Because he was left-handed, we needed to make him go to his right before shooting. Hopefully, that would be enough to throw his shooting off a bit.

We left for Austin rafter school had started on Wednesday morning. The student body had surrounded our bus and gave us a resounding send-off. When we arrived at Rosenberg, Coach Henry told the driver to stop at a drug store on the way so he could buy some aspirin for one of the players. When he came out and got back on the bus, he told us there were two men inside talking about the state tournament and the teams that were in it. One of them evidently remarked that he knew who wasn’t going to win it, and that team was Clear Creek. Coach replied, “well, we are going to do our best.” He said the man saw our bus and the name on it, and turned away. When he came back out, Coach told us the story before the bus pulled out again. I never got a chance to ask him if that story was true or if it was just something he made up in an attempt to motivate us. Maybe it happened that way and maybe it didn’t. I guess we will never know for sure.

Upon arriving in Austin, we went immediately to the West Winds Motel and placed our clothes in our assigned rooms. West Winds was sort of our home away from home. We stayed there during my three years we played in the tournament while I was on the varsity. Coach said it was because we were such good kids that the UIL placed us there. I don’t know about that but we certainly enjoyed our stay.

Each team in the tournament had a designated time on Wednesday that they could practice in Gregory Gymnasium. Ours was in the afternoon and consisted of just 30 minutes to familiarize ourselves with the surroundings. There was barely enough time to shoot some lay-ups, a few three man weaves, and take some shots on our own before we had to leave.

From the time we left the gym on Wednesday until it was time to play South San Antonio on Thursday evening, everything seemed to go in slow motion. There was television but Austin only had a couple of stations with limited programs available. Most of Wednesday evening was spent in a motel room talking about the season we had and, of course, the South San Bobcats. Occasionally, the talk would divert to one of teenage boys favorite subjects, girls. That’s when a lot of lies were told. Everybody knew they were lies but we enjoyed the stories
anyway. At about 10 o’clock, Coach came into the room and told us it was time to get some sleep.

On Thursday morning after breakfast, Coach offered to take us to Gregory so we could watch a couple of games. We planned to meet the bus again in front of the gym at about 11:00 am, go get some lunch, and, then, travel back to our motel. Coach wanted to meet with us shortly before our pre-game meal at around 4:00 so he could go over South San one more time. He said we were going to leave the motel in time to watch the first three quarters of the other 3A semi-final game between Hurst and Seminole. Then, we would go to our dressing room and get dressed for the game.

Hurst and Seminole was scheduled to start close to 7:30 pm and our match with South San was to start at 8:50 pm. We arrived early enough to get front row seats on the South end of the gymnasium so we wouldn’t have to stumble over people trying to get to the dressing room. The teams competing in the tournament always got to enter the gym before the hundreds of excitable fans were allowed to stampede through. The team that got their late was at the mercy of the crowd.

Seminole won their game over Hurst by the score of 49-47. Seminole shot a lukewarm 35.6 from the field while Hurst shot a dismal 32.7%. Shooting poorly is something that is a typical response to the pressure a team feels as a result of playing in the state tournament. It happens to a lot of very good basketball teams. When the shots continued to clang against the goals and fall away, I remember telling some guys around me that we could shoot better than both of these teams. I spoke way too soon.

The game with South San was a low scoring one that got real exciting in the last couple of minutes. Neither team was shooting the ball very well which tends to make the game look sloppier than it actually is. The little red-headed guard from South San had a dismal shooting night. In college, I constantly reminded him that, although he could score on a team like San Marcos, he had never run into a team that could absolutely shut him down like we did. Although I was just harassing him a little, he and Phil Duggar, another South San boy at SWT, told me on several occasions that Clear Creek was the best team they played all year. They played some great teams so I took that as a huge compliment.

South San lead in the game at one point, 10-7, but we scored 11 straight to make it 18-10 and actually led the rest of the game until the Bobcats tied it a 40-40 with 29 seconds to play. Coach called time in order to set up a play where I would get the ball for a shot with approximately 10 seconds left on the clock. I had a fairly decent look but had two South San players guarding me. As a result, I had to adjust the shot to avoid getting it blocked and missed. It was close but I still missed. However, in the scramble for the rebound, the ball went out of bounds off the hands of Billy Alexander, the South San post player. Six seconds remained on the clock when Coach used his last timeout. This time I was to get the ball off a double screen on the right side and end up in the corner. I wasn’t even close to getting open. Two players followed me to the corner on the deep right side. James Collins saw the five Bobcat players following the two screeners and me and drifted off to the left side of the court, about 15-17 feet deep in the corner. Not a single soul was around him, not even the referees. I don’t recall who threw the ball in but he got it to James and he calmly put it in the hole. South San called time with only 2 seconds left but could not convert a shot by Larry Black of about 60 feet. We won 42-40 and were headed to the finals on Saturday night.

Although we came away from the game with a victory, it didn’t seem like it for about a day. Back at the motel, the players talked about the game being fairly “blah”, except for the final score. The offense just wasn’t there for any team. South San only hit 16 of 60 shots (26.7%) while we were not much better with another lukewarm shooting exhibition (35.7%). I scored 22 points on 8 of 20 shots from the field (40%) but made all six of my free throws.

Before going to bed that night, the seniors on the team along with Jimmie Dale and Ronnie discussed how we were able to win games when our offense was not clicking like we thought it should. I asked if they remembered when Coaches Henry and Talley told us even before we started playing games that, if we were going to win, our defense would have to be better than strong. Chuck Kilgore, the guy who probably loved basketball more than any other player on the team, smiled and said, “You know what.? They were right. Our defense became great and it won several important ball games for us when our offense hit a snag.” As I already mentioned earlier, Chuck always had a great admiration for the coaches. However, after the state tournament, he couldn’t say enough good about both of them. When Coach Henry passed away, Chuck was devastated. I sincerely hope that the coaches realized how much he praised them as if they were almost god-like. Even though his playing time in each game was minimal, chuck never said a negative word about the coaches or any of his teammates. He was the ideal team player. Everybody should be fortunate enough to have a teammate like Chuck Kilgore.

On Friday, we held a short practice at, I believe, the Travis High School gym in Austin. Coach used the time to go over Seminole by demonstrating on the court their offensive scheme and what was thought to be the defense they would use. We held a couple more meetings on Saturday at the motel just to make sure everything had been covered. The coaches felt throughout the year that there was no such thing as over preparing but there was definitely such a thing as under preparing and they were not going to let that happen.

We went as a team to Gregory Gym on Friday night to watch a couple of games before returning to the motel. Coach Henry wanted us in bed by 10 o’clock so we could eat breakfast and lunch at the regular times and, then have our pre-game meal at around 4:30. He didn’t want us playing on a full stomach.

A lot of the time on Saturday was used to relax on the deck of the motel and talk with each other concerning a multitude of topics. The game with Seminole that night was always at the center of our discussions. There were a few fans, mostly parents, that came by the motel to visit with their son and wish the rest of the team the best of luck in the game. Even Mr. C.D. Landolt, the superintendent, dropped by and spoke to us briefly about the pride the Clear Creek community had for our ball team and how we epitomized the Wildcat spirit of never giving up. If you knew Mr. Landolt, he was a huge fan of all athletics in the Clear Creek ISD. He could always be heard above the noise of the crowds at all sporting events with his patented yell of, “Go, Go, Go.” The players and coaches were glad to see him and share this moment with one of our most trusted and loyal fans. He was quiet a man.

After arriving at Gregory Gym, we were directly immediately to our dressing room and left our traveling bags in the individual lockers. The coaches allowed us to either walk around, take in the 2A championship game between Buna and Canyon, or simply talk with some of our friends and relatives. One of my friends informed me that he had just been allowed to enter the gym and there were many other fans still waiting. Some of them were the cheerleaders who, according to UIL policy, had to be freely admitted if they were in uniform. I looked around and saw that each cheerleader was in uniform so I approached the attendant and asked him if he would allow them to enter. He blatantly said no. His reasoning was that the gym was already full and, when the first game was over and some of the fans had left, he would allow the rest of the people inside. Another man that was evidently a supporter of Clear Creek, although I had never seen him before, pulled me aside and told me not to worry, that he would make sure the cheerleaders were allowed in the game and it would be done quickly. Within a couple of minutes, they came marching in and stood by the stands until the 2A game was over.

I wasn’t trying to make a statement that chivalry was still alive and that men , or boys, had a right to come to the aid of a damsel in distress. The truth of the matter was that three of the players on our team had girlfriends on the cheerleading squad, including me, and we felt like it was important to our team that our cheerleaders and fans were allowed to support us inside the gymnasium and not outside in the street. For a few minutes, the incident became a minor distraction for our team but the end result was a positive thing. It showed us that some of our fans were so hyped up that, if necessary, they would storm the building in order to show their support for our team. Nothing or nobody was going to keep them from watching one of the biggest games in Clear Creek basketball history.

Finally, the time had come for us to get dressed. While walking to the locker room, I thought about how this game was going to be my last in a Clear Creek uniform. I briefly recalled some of the “best of times” and the “worst of times” in my three years as a Wildcat and concluded that the best was much better than the worst. I was very fortunate to share in both of them. Hopefully, after the next 32 minutes of basketball, the best thing that we ever dreamed of could happen. Again, who would have thought it?

By the time we started getting dressed, I had snapped out of all that nostalgia stuff and was getting anxious to play the game. Win or lose, it was going to be a fun and memorable evening.

Before going out on the court, Coach Henry said he wanted to talk to us one more time. He told us we had a great year and we should be proud of our accomplishments. He thanked us for always attempting to do what Coach Talley and he had asked of us and was especially proud of the way we “hung in there” when we had some major hurdles to clear. He thanked all the seniors for their leadership and their desire to uphold the Wildcat tradition of winning basketball. Now, we had a chance to make bigger history for Clear Creek but we must play relaxed and with confidence.

It was an emotional moment for both the coaches as well as the players. In fact, for some, it got a little too emotional. In fact, Coach Henry may have sensed it and immediately stood up, clapped his hands, and told us he wanted Coach Talley to tell us a joke he heard. He kind of startled us for a minute but Coach Talley made his way to the front of the room. I don’t remember the content of the joke and I even asked some of the players later on in life if they did, but they couldn’t remember either. Everybody laughed, though, so it must have been a good one. At any rate, the joke did what it was supposed to do. The players felt an immediate tension relief and was ready to play.

While warming up, several of us talked about the noise and electricity in the air from the seemingly hundreds of Clear Creek fans in the gym. We had never seen so many before in any game we played. Ronnie Wilkening pointed out his brother, Boonie. I remember the first time my oldest brother, James, loaded up his car with youngsters all with the name of Lenox, and taking us to Webster High School where we were finally going to get to watch a basketball game. He had boasted of a left-handed player named Boonie that we should all pay attention to because he was very good. We might learn something. Boonie became an instant hero to Bennie, Jimmie Dale, Ronnie Merle, Scooter, and me. It was certainly good to see him in the stands on this championship night supporting his brother as well as the rest of our team.

Coach Carlisle was also in the stands along with other long-time Clear Creek fans. My family was there as were the families of the other players. What a privilege and pleasure it was to represent all of them in a game of this magnitude. Using today’s vernacular, we were blown away.

When the game started and in the first couple of times we were on offense, it looked as if Seminole had come out in a zone defense. On the third time down the floor, it became obvious that they were playing a box and one defense on me, just like the one Dickinson played in our tournament. That meant that I would play most of the game on the outside away from the congestion of the post area. I was a happy boy.

Coach called a time out within a minute of the game and told us what defense they were using. Again, he set me up in the free throw area , moving up and down the post in order to attract two defenders.. That would leave at least one of the outside players open. Hopefully, it would be either Jimmie Dale or Ronnie or, possibly, James Collins. Unless Seminole was as bad as Dickinson, I knew that my offensive production was going to be curtailed so I would have to find other ways to help out.

The fact was that Seminole was a much better team than Dickinson but they were not any brighter. They stayed in a box and one the entire game, even when Jimmie Dale and Ronnie kept hitting shots at a torrid pace. It was a strange bit of coaching but I‘m certainly glad it was.

At the half, we were down by 4 points, 31-27. That was nothing unusual, we were down at the half in a lot of games. I had hit a long shot before the end of the half and felt unusually confident about the 2nd half at that point. Four points was nothing to overcome in the state tournament. Teams did that every year.

I always believed that we had too many good shooters for our opponents to try weird defenses on us. Both Jimmie Dale and Ronnie said at halftime that they had a good feeling about shooting the ball and that everyone of them had a good chance of going in the basket. The rest of the team’s responsibility was to make sure these two got touches.

When both teams came out in the 2nd half, Seminole chose to stay in their box and one defense. Ironically, it was our defense that played the dominant role in us winning the game. The third period saw the game swing back and forth. Finally, Jimmie Dale hit a shot with 38 seconds to go that made the score 43-42 and we never lost the lead. In fact, we outscored them 25-15 from that time to the end of the game.

Soon, after continually increasing the lead, it became evident that the Clear Creek Wildcats were going to become state champions. With about two minutes to go in the game, there arose a continuous deafening roar from the fans that lasted until well after the game had concluded. With 30 seconds left on the clock, a sea of fans surrounded the gym floor waiting for the final buzzer. It became evident that people of all ages were going to rush the floor. When the game ended with the Wildcats winning 65-57, the rush began. The first person I say was my 56 year old mother wearing a big smile and anxiously waiting to run out and congratulate the team. I never received so many hugs in all my life. Little kids, big kids, classmates, parents, loyal fans, and people I never saw before were in a hugging mood. Those 10-15 minutes we stayed on the court being congratulated was, undoubtedly, one of the top two or three highlights of my basketball career. None of us wanted to see it end.

At the trophy presentation, Coach Henry told me to represent the team and accept it on behalf of the players, Clear Creek High School, and the community. When the UIL director gave it to me, I locked onto it and never let go until we arrived back at the high school. I carried it with me to the motel room, on the bus trip home, and, reluctantly gave it to Coach after we got off the bus. It was a beautiful silver basketball that everybody who visited our gym for decades to come would have a chance to see it and read the writing etched on the plate. Every player got to hold it for a couple of seconds before relinquishing it to Coach Henry.

Mr. Ralph Parr wrote a full page summary of the 1963 State Championship year that was placed in the DEN, the name of our yearbook. I would like to share with you a portion of that summary.

“The team lost two district games, ended district in a tie, and won a playoff. After that the Wildcat express gained momentum and rolled over bi-district against El Campo and downed Brenham in a regional clash.

At the state tournament in Austin a last second shot decked South San Antonio, and a fourth quarter surge overpowered favored Seminole from the West Texas plains in the championship game.

At the end of the final game, several hundred Clear Creek fans (many say there were well over a thousand) surged onto the court and swept the team and coaches into a victory celebration which Gregory Gym had never seen before. Emotions showed in tears, screams, embraces, shouts and near-hysteria. Officials held up the trophy presentation and stood back and watched the Clear Creek fans and players go wild. They had a right to. This was a victory celebration which had been in the planning stages for eight years. Clear Creek was the state champion and it wanted the world to know. And most of it probably did.”

When we finally made it to the dressing room after the game, the players hugged and shook hands with each other and began to really realize what had just happened. We were busting with pride for our team. However, I can honestly and with humility say that we were more proud for our coaches than anybody else. Coach Henry and Coach Talley never let us know the kind of pressure they were under throughout the entire season. In the dressing room, both looked like a new life had come over them and a huge burden had been lifted. Both hugged each other and congratulated us one more time for our unbelievable season. We loved those guys.

It would have been nice if all the players that had been part of a district winning Clear Creek team could have been at the game and shared in the victory. Several were there but most didn’t get to attend. I really wish that Bennie and Paul Timmins could have been there but they were still playing for Texas A&M and couldn’t get away. Both of those guys wanted desperately to win a state championship while in high school but, unfortunately, never did. They also showed great support when our team really needed it by sending us a telegram of encouragement before the second Alvin game. Just imagine, if one of the teams that Bennie was on had won a state championship, he wouldn’t have to listen to Jimmie Dale and me talk about the two of us being the only players in the Lenox family that played on a state championship team. Seriously, though, I wish they both could have been there. That would have made winning that much sweeter.

The coaches took us out to eat at the Night Hawk Restaurant after the game and found the place overflowing with Clear Creek fans. A lot of them were students but many were adults as well. When we exited the bus, they surrounded us and we had another celebration similar to the one at Gregory. There were hugs, pats on the back, and the word, congratulations, resounded in the parking area and followed us into the restaurant. I was never around a group of people so loud and elated as that bunch at the Night Hawk. It was quiet an evening.

We rolled into League City at around 2:00 pm on Sunday and found a sizable group of people at the high school there to greet us. The cheerleaders led them in a couple of cheers and the school song. By that time, though, we were tired and ready to go home. After all, we had been up most of the night reminiscing about our season.

Within a week after the state meet, the school organized an assembly with the idea of recognizing the members of the state championship team one more time and have us officially give the trophy to the school. I was appointed to say something about the team and our season before presenting the trophy to Nelson Fuller, the Student Council President. Almost immediately after the assembly, it was placed in a prominent place inside the trophy case for all to see. Sadly, the story doesn’t end there. It worsens.

At the beginning of district play, Coach Henry challenged every player on the team to be the rebounding leader at the end of the season. The winner would be treated to a meal at a restaurant of his choosing with Coach Henry picking up the tab. I was declared the winner and chose Jimmy Walker’s in Kemah. Most of our conversations centered around the season we had just gone through and the things both of us learned as a result. He asked what I thought the turning point for our team was in the season. Wisely, I said, “the two district losses.” I already knew that he had just given an interview a few days earlier to a sports writer named Bubba Cruse in which he said that the two district losses were the turning point. He never knew that I had read his statements in the paper.

In the article, Coach went on to say, “Our kids just decided that they really wanted to win after those two losses. We started to rebound good and our kids found out that they had to put out effort (I had a suspicion that he was talking about the lack of effort during the first Alvin game). Every single, solitary game that we played in the second round was one that we had to win if we wanted to win district. It was a pressure game every time and we just had to talk and play one game at a time. Starting with Deer Park, one of the teams that beat us in the first round, we began our climb up.” Cruse then wrote, “and they did, right into the Class AAA championship.”

Bubba Cruse wrote one other paragraph that sums up ever member of our team’s feelings about winning the district championship first. He said, “Perhaps in assessing all of the vital parts which fit intricately in Clear Creek’s championship title, one over looks the biggest cog of all, one that is as essential as the heat in the human body--the Clear Creek TRADITION of fine basketball.” I have said it numerous times in this paper, probably the one driving force that kept us striving to win district, was the Clear Creek tradition. We wanted this team to be part of that tradition. And we made it.

Twenty-Five years after we won the state championship, the team was invited back to Clear Creek High School for a reunion. At half-time of the varsity basketball game, we were called out individually and walked to the other end of the court. It was a nice ceremony and was greatly appreciated. After the game, the ‘63 team and their wives, Coach Henry, Coach Talley, Coach Carlisle, Buddy Carlisle , Ralph Parr (the master of ceremony), a few parents, and 10-12 of our fellow classmates met to share in eating some barbeque with all the trimmings and to do some reminiscing. Of course, in our eyes, we all got better as the years passed.

At any rate, Ralph Parr began to talk about the trouble they had in “finding” the trophy. When someone finally did come across it, the silver had changed to a rustic brown, the writing was almost unreadable, and they did not know if it could cleaned up enough to be presentable. I, along with some of the teammates I talked to, were very upset that our state championship trophy was put in a place to corrode and not be taken care of as it should have been. We weren’t talking about a third place trophy for a junior varsity track meet. This is a state championship trophy. In our minds, it should have been the center piece of the best trophy case in the school. It wouldn’t hurt to have a light shine directly on it twenty-four hours a day. What disrespect the leadership of the school showed. It makes me wonder where it might be “hidden,” today. If I had known in 1963 that our trophy would be treated like it was, the entire team would have rebelled against turning it over to the school in the first place.

Throughout the season, we had to learn how to deal with the worst of times as well as graciously accept the best of times. We were fortunate enough to get the opportunity to redeem ourselves from embarrassing loses by writing our names in the record book as the only Clear Creek team to ever win a state championship. Now, if we could only find that trophy.

Hopefully, someday Clear Creek High School will be able to boast of another state championship in basketball. Maybe it will be sooner than we all think. However, 1-13 in district won’t cut it.

I apologize for what was intended to be a five or six page comment actually turning into a small book. Obviously, I had a lot to say. DLL

Dan Jensen

The long wait for Curley's remarks about that remarkable championship season was well worth it. What a great, great, great story. And that besides his compliment to me.

I never knew Curley was such a historian and English Literature must have been one of his favorite classes. A Tale of Two Cities, the best of times, the worst of times--what a tremendous lead in.

I will have more to say later when I have time to digest Curley's stirring rendition and I hope others will also.

paul hackett

Hats off to Curley for a wonderful account of their championship year. As an English Lit major, I have to admit the Dicken's reference was a pleasant surprise. I did not know that the "2nd best shooter" Vernon Macdonald ever coached was an appreciator of classic literature.

I found it interesting regarding a couple of striking parallels with the season of Curleys team and my '66 team, with the obvious difference of the state championship.

Within our 4 losses, we too had an embarrasing loss to Texas City in the finals of their tournament, losing 56 to 51. A week later we beat them, 73-55. We also were drubbed by a Houston powerhouse , Memorial High School, losing at our gym, 82-63.

Unfortunately, the one more that I wish we would have had was the final one in Austin instead of that overtime thing we ended up with.

We have had some discussions about best teams in the storied history of Clear Creek Basketball and I think we all have our favorite, but the '63 team has the proof positive of being the only one out of all of those great teams to bring home the ultimate prize.

As I said in my opening line...HATS OFF!!!!!

Ed Davis

Great job, Curley. The 1963 Wildcat team is certainly one to be proud of and I am glad to read your account of the season. Makes one proud to have been a part of such a legacy that has lasted a long time but now is in danger of falling by the wayside. Let's hope that the joy of the days experienced by those great Wildcat teams of the past, especially the state championship team of 1963, will return to CCHS.

Dan Jensen

There are many things to like about Curley's sterling post and one is his disdain for Dickinson. Spoken like a true League City guy.

Dickinson never, never, never beat Clear Creek for years and years and years and Curley's era was certainly part of that.

And, the Gators seldom came close and when they did, the reaction was similar to Curley's. Pound them the next time, and the next time and the next time.

Sadly, things have changed. Two sad losses last year. Very, very sadly, Dickinson had NEVER beaten us at home until last year.

Sadly, our principal and athletic director still support a second straight bad coaching hire. That's for the public anyway. Hopefully, they have the coach on notice, just like he was at Georgetown before we had the wool pulled over our eyes and hired him away.

Dan Jensen

In Curley's dissertation, he points to a big game with Deer Park in his junior year when his instructions were to feed our great all-state post player Bill Doty.

Curley credited Doty with 42 points in a double overtime, 61-57 win and thought it was his best game of the year. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't because there is one other possibility.

First, Doty scored "only" 40 against Deer Park but his career high came later in a 65-54 bi-district win over El Campo. Doty scored 44 and had a late shot roll out or he would have tied Bennie Lenox for the then all-time scoring record.

Doty had similar stats in the two games. Against Deer Park, he was 19 for 34 from the field and 2 for 2 at the foul line. In the playoff game, he was 19 of 32 and 6 for 6.

Against Deer Park, Doty scored our only two points in the first overtime and was three for three from the field in the second one and had six of our seven points. I would probably agree with Curley that the Deer Park game was the best.

It sure would have been disappointing to lose a bi-district game though. A strange note to the El Campo game is that only three Wildcats scored in that game. Curley had 12 and Rick Jones 9. Bobby Rule, a good player, missed all 12 field goal attempts.

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My Photo

Coach Carlisle at Southwest Texas

  • Coach and Basketball - Senior Year
    The photos in this album are taken from the yearbook, entitled The Pedagog, from Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos for the 1948/49 school year. Coach Carlisle was a senior that year. The photos tell a story of a very accomplished and talented athlete but also a person who had many other outstanding attributes as well. Thanks for Peggy Carlisle for supplying the yearbook from which these photos were taken.

The Houses of Carlisle

  • This album contains pictures of Webster High School and the George B. Carlisle Field House at Clear Creek High School in League City.

Hurricane Ike

  • Home Afloat in the Gulf
    Photos showing the aftermath of Hurricane Ike which hit the Texas coast at Galveston during the evening of September 12 and throughout the day on September 13.