Boys Basketball Stories
We welcome your stories.
In 1946 Russett won the County tournament against Wapanucka. We had a dinner afterwards with all the team, Mr. Jim Smith, who was the coach, and the school board members.
At the dinner, Boss Easterwood told about what he heard during the final game. When teams would be fouled they would have a choice of shooting two shots or shooting one shot and take the ball outside. Mr. Smith would wear his hat if he wanted the player to shoot both shots, or he would take off his hat if they were to shoot one shot, then take the ball outside.
Our uniforms were all black with white numbers and when we were winning, Mr. Easterwood heard one of the Wapanucka mothers tell her husband to "just look at those Russett boys! they look like a bunch of rats and the coach looks like the "Daddy Rat" - Story by Weldon Biles
In 1949, Russett was playing in the district tournament. Most of the teams in the county were in that tournament. Mannsville had a player, Fat Aldridge (Fat was a nickname – I don’t remember the real name) and Roy O’Steen made a bet that if Russett and Mannsville played that whichever team lost the person on that team would have to shave his head and come out on court during the finals. Russett won and Fat came out on the court at halftime of the final game with a stocking cap on then pulled it off and walked off court. Russett was playing Milburn during that final game and somewhere close to the end of the game Milburn was pressing Russett full court. When the person on Russett’s team threw the ball in to Roy, he jumped up and made 2 points for Milburn. Of course Roy was upset but they called timeout and got Roy settled down. Roy has taken some kidding over the years and some people claim that Milburn won that game but Russett has the trophy. Story by Dale O’Steen who was a freshman on the bench at that time.
Basketball at Coleman
One cold winter night the Russett basketball team rode the school bus to Coleman. A “Blue North’er” had blown in and when we arrived we found the gymnasium was in an old Quonset hut. From my position on the bench I could see the ground behind me. The gym was heated by two large coal stove heaters, one on each end. Mr. Murk, our coach, told the team that we had to do something about it being so cold in the gym. He decided to keep the team warm; we would abandon our normal Zone Defense and play “Full Court Press”. This new playing method not only kept the team warm but took the Colman team by surprise and we beat the socks off of them. Mr. Murk decided we did so well against Colman that we continued to play “Full Court Press” from then on. This may have been one of the reasons that the team players were asked to stop smoking during basketball season. Story by Larry Wilcox.
In a basketball game at Murray, Russett was playing Mannsville. Fat Aldridge was the score keeper. The game was very close but Russett was ahead when one of Mannsville’s best players fouled. The player and coach were both sure that it was his 5th foul so the player was going toward the dressing room. Fat had him with only 4 fouls and was trying to get him to come back to the court. He was blowing the horn loud and long and even told the referee to go get him because he had not fouled out. The game continued with that player still in the game and Russett still won the game. The next week Russett played Mannsville at Mannsville and Fat was the referee. He called all kinds of wild stuff and even called 2 or 3 technicals. Mannsville and Russett were rivals and they wanted to beat us as bad as we wanted to beat them. By Dale O’Steen
By Jerry Henry
Unlike my brothers, when it came to basketball, coach Murk kept me busy doing things around the bench, like keeping it warm and etc. I always felt that I could contribute more to the game than I had been allowed. We were playing Thackerville in a non-district game. I was suited up and ready in case they “needed” me. That night I got my chance. I was determined to show Murk that he should have had me in the game all along. I remember being down in the right position for a fast break. The ball came to me and I raced to our goal feeling an opponent breathing down my neck. I made a most beautiful fake and the would be spoiler went crashing into the wall leaving me all alone to make 2 points for the ole home team and show coach Murk a thing or two about my athletic prowess. When I saw the goal it looked 20 feet high and the size of a syrup bucket. I missed the lay-up and was shortly thereafter returned to my bench duties, like keeping it warm. I was so disappointed in myself. It was indeed a night of “lost opportunity.
I wonder if your Thackerville story coincides with one I remember about Thackerville. They had a team member that seemed 10 feet tall. Our center was Arlie O'Steen. Now Arlie wasn't very tall, in basketball terms, but he could jump incredibly high. He had a jump and turn shot that was fantastic and he helped us win many a game by using that shot. He would play in and around the top of the key and someone would feed him the ball, he would jump, turn and shoot, almost impossible for a normal opponent player to block. But this seemly 10 foot tall Thackerville player was tall enough that he would cram that ball back down Arlie's throat. As I recall they beat the pants off of us. By Larry Wilcox
In 1951, Russett had a very good 8th grade team. Arlie O’Steen, Sylvester May and Bobby Word were on that team. They were in a tournament I think at Mill Creek. They were playing Pontotoc during the finals with Snake Norman refereeing (Snake had a little brother Benny on the team). Russett was ahead and the calls were going Pontotoc’s way so Mr. Portman, after complaining a few times, decided to forfeit that game. It was not very long afterwards that they were in another tournament at Troy. The same 2 teams were in the finals with the same referee. Mr. Portman said under no circumstances would he forfeit this game. Russett was behind for some time but caught up and won the game. Mr. Maxey, superintendent at Ravia, presented the trophy and I remember he said something about those “come from behind Russett boys working under adverse conditions”. Ravia, Mannsville, and Milburn were always rivals of Russett. I guess because Ravia and Mannsville were so close and Mr. Murk lived at Milburn and knew everyone on the team. Story by Dale O’Steen.
In my older/wiser years I have thought about my lack of sports ability. I wanted so much in my life to be a fighter pilot and ultimately an astronaut. I don't know what was wrong with me to think I had the eye/hand coordination to be a fighter pilot when I couldn't even make Russett's "Real” Basketball team. I couldn't run, jump or hit the basket and in fact was given an award my senior year by my classmates for sitting on the bench for four years without getting angry. I often joke that my old sport's injuries was splinters in my behind from sitting on the bench. I have been thankful the Lord saw fit to not let me be a fighter pilot. I would probably have killed myself by now. And, when the Air Force decided it would be healthier for me and cheaper for them if I didn't fly airplanes, they decided I should fly computers and I have been doing it for almost 50 years. By Larry Wilcox