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Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015

Puxico team could light it up

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Thayer Bobcats won a close game over the Couch Indians a couple of weeks ago, by the count of 35-30.

This got me to thinking -- are high school basketball teams changing to a more controlled game these days?

They may be taking the politicians seriously and promoting change, but that kind of game is really not new.

Scores were very low in the early days of basketball and on into the 1940s when I was growing up.

The movie "Hoosiers" was inspired by the tiny Milan, Ind., high school team that won the state championship in a 32-30 game over Muncie by holding the ball for over four minutes.

Scores began to escalate, and by the 1950s, the fast break had become popular.

The 1949-50 Thayer Bobcats made it to the state playoffs and lost to the Puxico Indians, a team that ran the fast break to perfection.

That was the first year for the phenomenal Puxico team's success, which people still talk about today.

Puxico went undefeated, winning 40 straight games and capturing the Class B championship in the 1950-1951 season, scoring over 100 points in a game, 13 different times.

The team became so popular that some of their games had to be played in Poplar Bluff and Cape Girardeau to accommodate the crowds. They also won the state championship in 1952 and took second in 1953.

Led by Win Wilfong, all five of their starters, including Forrest Arnold and Grady Smith, played at Division I colleges.

All-Americans Wilfong and Smith also made it into the professional ranks. Wilfong died of cancer in 1985.

In February of 1951, the Puxico team scored 148 points against Greenville on a Tuesday night, 131 points against Naylor two nights later and 142 against Annapolis on the following Saturday.

In 1955, J. D. Boyer at Winona, scored 93 points in one game against Freemont, a state record that still stands, along with Ruth Harms' record of 85 points at Schell City, Mo., in 1951.

Seeing the high scores, coaches began to turn their teams loose and the race was on.

As I recall, schools in north Arkansas used the "run and gun" approach long before their neighbors to the north.

When Mammoth Spring's gym burned about 1951, they practiced at the Thayer gym and we noticed how they ran down the court full-blast.

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