Tuesday, March 01, 2011

1962 1963 1964 EHHS Highlander Basketball

Our 1963 basketball team consisted of about half seniors and half juniors. I think this was Coach Howerton’s first year at EH, replacing Ronnie McBee who had been the team coach for a number of years.

The team members in this picture and article were: Dwayne Williams, Jim Newell, David Williams, Guy Perkins, Ted Harris, Steve Rose, Roby Morris, Kendall McCook, Melvin Starks, Wayne Templeton, Bobby Dillard, J.W. Southard, David Tracy, David Richardson, Bob Larmer, Roy Burklow, and Coach Johnny Howerton.

The article was cut from a year-end sports summary section of the school newspaper, The Tartan.

CJ64--For the EHHS classes of 1962, 1963, and 1964, basketball was an other sport – not nearly as important as football and somewhat under-appreciated, but not an unexpected situation in football-crazy Texas. It’s probably still the same way today.

Ronnie McBee was the coach in 1961-62. He had been a star at North Side High and TCU. He was fun-loving, irreverent, and sort of a playboy type, but he was a good coach, and the players liked to play for him. He gave out nicknames to most, but not all the players. Gary Granger, a guard, was “Baby Ears” because of, well, his small ears. Fred Culberson, another guard, had dark, bushy eyebrows, and eyelashes all the girls envied, so he was tagged as “Hairy Eyes” .

Johnny Howerton came in the fall of 1962 to replace McBee. They could not have been more opposite. McBee was tall, easy-going, and fun; Howerton was short, intense, and scary. Howerton had played on the 1952-53 state champion Poly High team, and at Abilene Christian. Howerton was outstanding at teaching, particularly winning fundamentals. His teams were always well-conditioned and poised, because they had been taught what to do. They were also overachievers, like the coach.

Memorable Moments

1961-1962. We had gone down to Waco to play the now-defunct Richfield Rams. Late in the 1st half, Fred Culberson sprained his ankle, but not too badly. At the half in the locker room, Coach McBee taped up the ankle, and Fred played the 2nd half, and we won. Now, Fred not only had hairy eyes, he also had hairy legs. 

Normally you would have shaved his ankle prior to taping, but there had been no time. So, 3 days later, when it was time to remove the tape, Fred was not looking forward to it. Ray Coleman, our manager, took the scissors and cut along the bottom of the foot, then through one side. The only thing left to do was rip it off. Fred said he was ready, and Ray yanked. The result: Fred’s ankle was beautifully shaved, and the inside of the tape was solid leg hair. Ray kept it around for a couple of weeks for show, then tossed it.

Tuf-Skin was an all-purpose product we used mainly on our feet. It came in a can, and you spread it on blisters with a brush, and it would toughen the skin almost immediately. It also burned like hell. We discovered it made an excellent cure for jock itch. Jock itch was caused by perspiration-soaked jock straps, and resulted in a reddened, inflamed, and itchy area around the genitalia. You could treat it with lotion, or powder, but that took time. Bruce Schnitzer had it really bad, so after consultation, he agreed to the Tuf-Skin cure. He lay down on the bench, shorts down, and Ray swabbed him down with the brush. Bruce broke out in a sweat, and clenched his teeth, but he was cured.

1962-63. Bobby Larmer led the district in scoring through the first half of district play. It was a surprise, and got him some press in the papers. It was a surprise, but no accident. He played the way his coach taught – aggressive, smart, and with discipline. He faded to second or third by season’s end, but made the all-district team. The team was developing the style that led to our district championship in in 1963-64; we played an opportunistic, over achieving game, waited for the other team to make mistakes, and took advantage of them.

We played against the Pampa Harvesters in a tournament. Today, Pampa is a town that has fallen on hard times, but not in 1963. Their key player was Randy Matson, later a Texas A&M and Olympic gold medal shot-putter. He was a full-grown 6’7”, stayed at the foul line, and directed traffic. They waxed us.

Ted Harris was an all-around good athlete who was good at every sport, but particularly football. He played more on heart than on skill. If every person on the team could work as hard, and play as hard, as Ted Harris, there is no way you could be beaten. We had a wind-sprint drill to end every practice. We would line up at the end line, run to the foul line, then run backwards back to the end line, then forward to the half-court line, then backwards to the end line, and repeat to the far foul line and far end line. Ted and Roby Morris were racing back from the far foul line, running backwards, when Ted stumbled at the finish. His head struck the concrete wall. He went down to the floor on his back, unconscious, his legs and arms jerking. Bobby Dillard ran over to check to see if he had swallowed his tongue. He suggested to Coach Howerton that we call Ted’s father, Marvin Harris (there was no 911), and Coach did. Mr. Harris got him to the hospital. Ted had fractured his skull, but he recovered with no after effects. It was memorable only in that it was so scary.

1963-1964. We played in an open tournament in Graham early in the season, meaning that different classifications were invited from class B to class 4A. When we arrived at our motel, Coach was told there had been a mix-up, and our rooms were taken. So, he called the Graham coach. No problem. The Graham coach arranged for our players to be parceled out the Graham players’ homes, 2 to 3 at a time. That’s how David Tracy and I ended up in the home of John Matzinger, a starting guard. Mr. and Mrs. Matzinger couldn’t have been more gracious, and Mrs. Matzinger stuffed us with a huge platter of chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, and peas.

The next morning we went to the gym. We were slated to play Megargel, town population 408, a class B school. We were 4A, at that time the top classification. Megargel had a team of about 7. Their tallest player was about 6’, but he had a letter jacket which practically disappeared underneath the awards and letters. Their guards were twin brothers who were laughably short, at about 5’6”. We thought it was so funny that it took us 2 overtimes to beat them by 1 point. Let that be a lesson to you.

That afternoon we played Graham. They were a 3A school, but they were loaded. In addition to Matzinger, Graham had 6’6” Tiny Lochner (they both played at Texas), and P. D. Shabay and E. A. Gresham (who both played football at TCU, and led the team in initials). They beat us and won their own tournament, but that was offset by the goodwill they had shown us in putting us up at their homes.

We won district. Poly won the first half, we won the second half, and we beat them in the championship. The key players were Roby Morris, Wayne Templeton, David Richardson, Roy Burklow, Ward Ericson, and Duane Williams. Roby and Wayne made all-district. We went over to Dallas to play Adamson in bi-district. They were taller, and could shoot. They featured a tall center who had a club foot, but he could still move and played well. They beat us and the season was over, but it was a great season. We owed it to some gutsy, intelligent players, and to Coach Howerton, who earned our complete respect.



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