Howard Wilkison

I loved seeing the students being honored while reading the sports page in the Daily News last Saturday. I tried to remember names of the boys who were honored in my high school, but it’s been 70 years since graduating from high school. Those years three girls, the shooters, played in the forward court – the only ones allowed to score. On the opposite side of the court were the guards, a group of three girls that played on the backcourt that were the only individuals allowed to protect the basket against the opposing team. I was a guard and not a really good one.

I got out Jack Poore’s book “Decatur County Basketball 1946-1968.” That was back in the day when Decatur County had eight high schools playing the game including the Burney Panthers, Clarksburg Knights, Greensburg Pirates, Jackson Tigers, New Point Little Giants, Sandcreek Indians, Sandusky Blackhawks and the St. Paul Blasters. The county teams played each other and the Greensburg team played schools in other counties.

Looking at the 1953-1954 season, it has Murray Mendenhall Jr. as the coach of Greensburg’s team and Jack Spencer as the Sapling’s coach. The team was composed of returning lettermen Joe Westhafer, Carl Bode, Larry Pohlman, Jim Huber, and Norm Bramblett. Other players that were certified for sectional play were Paul Fightmaster, Tom Howard, Jim Jones, Tom Linville, Don Muckerheide, Tom Nienaber and Harold Smith.

Greensburg played 25 games including Greenfield, Madison, Rushville, North Vernon, Shelbyville, Southport, Martinsville, New Castle, Connersville, Columbus, Batesville, Jeffersonville, Franklin, Aurora, Lawrenceburg and Seymour. Joe Westhafer and Carl Bode were named to the S.C.C. All-Conference Team and Joe Westhafer was the season leader in points scored with 358.

New Point was the winner of the county tournament and had the best varsity record. Justin Schroeder at New Point scored the most points (293) and the single game high by a county player was Bill Durbin of New Point with 29 points vs. Clarksburg. New Point scored the most points by a county team in a game with Burney.

Still looking at the 1953-1954 team I found this: The Pirates’ record after the New Year’s Day tourney stood at 9-1, which was the best mark at that time of the year since the 1930-1931 team was 7-1. That team ended the season with a 15-4 record. Gee, who was on the 1930-31 team I wonder, but don’t have that book.

Then I found that Dyer Oakley, with the Greensburg Pirates, made a “field goal” when he connected to the hoop just as the gun sounded. (In those days the official timer shot a starter’s pistol along with the buzzer when the game ended.) Oakley’s field goal made in the 1946-1947 season, from close to the center stripe, won that game against Aurora (Pirates 40, Aurora 38).

Something else I didn’t know (there are many such things) was that in the 1957-1958 season Howard Wilkison was the season leader in points scored for the Clarksburg Knights with 426 points. Those points were the most points ever scored by a Clarksburg player in one season. Hard to believe that all the years I’ve known Joe Westhafer, Howard Wilkison and Dyer Oakley they never once bragged about any of those remarkable things. Well, they did accomplish other feats as the years went by. I’m sure Howard is keeping busy in heaven, maybe even coaching a team.

Author of the book I have, Jack Poor, was born in Westport, the son of Walter and Ella Vandiver Poore. He graduated from Greensburg High School in 1956. He worked for the NY Central Railroad for 35 years. He wrote four books on high school sports. He and his wife Ella moved to Arizona in 2020 and he died that same year. It is an excellent book.

This was fun. I must check on others I know or knew.

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