Star high school players from all sections of the nation took part in 4th annual North vs. South basketball classic down in Kentucky
Published in Sports Review Magazine, 1953, pp. 62-63.
by ERL SENSING
It was Appamattox the third straight time for the Rebels June 14, 1952 in the fourth annual North-South cage classic at Murray, Kentucky as the Yankees walked away with an easy 84-70 victory.
The Southerners, with an all-Kentucky five, struck with the speed of old General "Git Thar Fastest With the Mostest" Forrest, in the first three minutes of play and racked up eight points before the Northerners could even score, but faded badly and quickly to trail 18-22 at the quarter.
After a shaky start, the big Northeners turned on a magnificent display of rebounding which they coupled with some fancy footwork and rifle-straight shooting on the part of their little guards to take charge of the game.
The South's first eight points were scored on quick baskets by Phil Rollins of Wickliffe (Ky.) high school, Jerry Bird of Corbin (Ky.) high school, along with two free throws by Howie Crittenen, also of Cuba.
But the North, gathering speed as the South lagged, tied it all at 12-all with four minutes left in the period and stayed ahead the rest of the half.
At the halfway mark, the North was leading 41-36, but Bird's basket for the South against one charity for the North by John Fannon made it 42-38. Then, two successive 15-footers by Southern guard Phil Rollins tied the count at 42-42 with eight minutes remaining in the quarter. (Four ten-minute periods were played.)
Bruce Brothers of Quincy (Ill.) high school immediately put the North two points up before Gene Bennett of Miami (Fla.) high school knotted the score at 44-44 with a long one from the side.
After that it was the North all the way, with Bevo Francis of Wellsville (Ohio) high school and Brothers supplying the punch to push the North out of the tie and into the lead.
The amazing shooting of Robin Freeman, 5-11 guard from Hughes High School of Cincinnati, Ohio, highlighted the scoring drive of the Yankees. His 22 points established an all-time high for an individual in the four years the game has been played.
Bruce Brothers of the North and Jerry Bird of the South tied the previous record of 19 set by Gayle Rose of Paris, Kentucky in 1950 for second place honors. With frequent substitutions, participants rarely play more than half the game.
Chuck Taylor, nationally recognized authority on basketball, following the practice established at the first annual North-South game in 1949, again named his All-American prep school team. In making the selections he was assisted by sports writers and radio announcers covering the contest and a number of the top collegiate and high school coaches of the land attending the game.
Brothers, a Northern forward, was named "Mr. Basketball" to put him in the top spot on the honor team. Selected with him were Jerry Brid of Corbin (Ky.) high school; Robin Freeman of Hughes high school of Cincinnati, Ohio; Howie Crittenden of Cuba (Ky.) high school; and Tommy Heinsohn of St. Michael's (Union City, New Jersey) high school.
Other participants included, for the South -- Forest Arnold, Puxico, Missouri; Lloyd Aubrey, St. Louis, Missouri; Gene Bennett,, Miami, Florida; Mack Carter, Borger, Texas; Charles Floyd, Cuba, Kentucky; Phillip Grawemeyer, Louisville, Kentucky; Les Hohl, St. Louis, Missouri; Bob Huckaby, Bogue Chitto, Mississippi; Bob Kessler, Alexandria, Virginia; Phil Rollins, Wickliffe, Kentucky.
For the North -- Bill Brainard, Newton, Kansas; John Fannon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Bevo Francis, Wellsville, Ohio; Jim Frary, Shawnee, Kansas; Pete Kutches, Escanaba, Michigan; Terry Rand, Green Bay Wisconsin; Bill Ridley, Taylorville, Illinois; Linn Smith, Brookport, Illinois; Bill Weiman, Davenport, Iowa.
Southern coaches were Jack Story, coach of the 1951-52 Kentucky High School State Champions of Cuba, and Hank Raymonds, coach of the 1951-52 Missouri Class A High School Champions of St. Louis University high school of St. Louis, Missouri.
Northern mentors were John Novak, coach at Eau Claire (Wisconsin) high school, and Roy Leenig, coach at St. Peter's high school of Jersey City, New Jersey.
|1952 All-American prep team, (L. to R.): Heinshohn, Freeman, Brothers, Northern team: "Chuck" Taylor who selected team; Bird and Crittenden, of Southern team.|
The game, sponsored by the North-South Cage Commission with Marvin O'Wrather as Chairman, is played annually in the Murray State College gym and brings together the top high school graduating seniors of the nation.
Selections are the toughest problems facing the Commission. Twenty-four players, 12 from the South and 12 from the North, are named each year along with two Southern and two Northern coaches. The dividing line between North and South is the Mason-Dixon line, the Ohio river and the old Missouri Compromise line in the west.
Over the four years the game has been played, a nominations committee of more than 100 sports writers and radio announcers in all 48 states and the District of Columbia has been set up. Each year approximately 1,000 boys are nomnated fo rthe two teams. More than 30 states have thus far been represented in the classic.
Final selections are left to a small committee headed by Edd Kellow, sports editor of the nearby Paducah (Ky.) Sun-Democrat.
The outstanding job done by the set-up is attested to by Rich Rosenthal, who played in the 1950 game now at Notre Dame; Clay Gray, 1949, now at California; Richard Knostman, 1949, now at Kansas State; Tom Gola, 1951, now at LaSalle; Charlie Mencel, 1951, now at Minnesota; Bob Pettit, 1950, now at Louisiana State; Togo Palazzi, 1950, now at Holy Cross; Joe Richey, 1949, and Harold Christensen, 1949, both now at Brigham Young.
In addition, more than a score of other alumni of the game are now playing varsity basketball at the leading colleges and universities of the nation.
|"Mr. Basketball" presentation (L to R.); Bruce Brothers, Lawrence Wetherby, Gov. of Ky., "Chuck" Taylor, and Dr. Ralph Woods, Pres. of Murray State College.|
After selections are made, the boys and their coaches are brought to Murray where they are quartered on the campus at Murray State College. The two squads spend an entire week preparing for the game.
All, however, is not work in practice. The boys are lavishly entertained after the manner of old-fashioned Southern hospitality. A lot of their time is spent on nearby Kentucky Lake, the playground of mid-America, and a number of outings are made to nearby west Kentucky towns where they are guests of local civic clubs.
The most unusual phase of the entertainment comes with the weekend of the game when parents of the players and families of the coaches are received as house guests in the homes of Murray families.
Also, a number of uninvited but welcome guest in town are several dozen of the top collegiate coaches of the nation, come to look over the teams that would set up any coach with a championship contender.
An elaborate pre-game ceremony is staged each year with a lot of color and music as a fitting prelude to the top prep game of the year.
All of this is done in a gymnasium seating less than three thousand. Naturally, each game is a sellout long before the tipoff. No effort is made to promote ticket sales, with orders taken merely on a first come, first served basis.
Financially, the game is made possible through sales of souvenir programs which receive full advertising support from Murray and other west Kentucky business men.
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