1958 Highland County Basketball Tournament
Friday, February 17, 2017 3:12 AM
(Continued from last week.)
The championship game of the 1958 Highland County Basketball Tournament found Lynchburg holding the edge most of the way, but Sinking Spring stayed on their heels.
Larry Huffman sank two free throws to make it 50-48 in favor of Lynchburg. With 50 seconds left, Jim Naylor of Lynchburg was fouled and made both shots to make it 52-48. Dave Jacobs of Lynchburg was fouled with 30 seconds remaining, and he hit both attempts to make it 54-48.
Sinking Spring countered quickly with baskets by Roger and Jim Huffman, which brought the score to 54-52. Lynchburg got the ball but was tied up for a jump ball. The Eagles won the tip with seven seconds on the game clock. The green-and-gold came down the floor, and Roger Huffman got off a shot which bounced off the rim. As the two teams fought for possession of the loose ball, the final buzzer sounded and Lynchburg won, 54-52.
Larry Huffman was selected the top player in the tournament. He turned in a sparkling performance in the championship game by scoring 30 points against Lynchburg’s tight 2-3 zone. He also had scored 32 points in a tournament game against Belfast. His average for five games in the tournament was 22 points. Huffman, though, was an unselfish player who often passed off to teammates when he had good shots at the goal, which is the reason that coaches in the area had so much respect for his style of play.
Incidentally, the Huffman family was quite a remarkable family. There were nine children, if I remember correctly. All the boys were good athletes (if the small schools had been offering girls’ sports back then, I’m sure the girls would have been good athletes, too.) More importantly, they were good people. All of them have done well in life, and they have raised children who are good citizens. They have standards.
Coach Glenn Armstrong, now in his sixth year at Sinking Spring, had built a program that took the Eagles from two or three wins per season to a runner-up finish in the county tournament – their first in school history. They would be playing in the sectional tournament at Piketon – their first sectional appearance in the history of the school. This was a season to be proud of.
The All-Tournament team was: first team, Larry Huffman and Roger Huffman (of Sinking Spring), Dave Jacobs and Larry Irwin (of Lynchburg) and Roger Maxwell (of Belfast). All were seniors except Roger Huffman, who was a junior.
Named to the second team were Leon Stivers (Whiteoak), Earl Barnett (Fairfield), Jim Palmer (Belfast), Bill Shaw (Marshall) and Steve Forsythe (Buford). Forsythe and Barnett were seniors, Palmer and Stivers were juniors. Shaw was a sophomore.
Making the honorable mention list included Richard Michael (Belfast), Jon Minzler (Lynchburg), Ken Hilliard (Buford), Jack Richey (Whiteoak) and Jim Fleisher, (Lynchburg). Michael, Hilliard and Fleisher were seniors, Minzler was a junior and Richey was a sophomore.
Sinking Spring would play Centralia (now Zane Trace) of Ross County on Feb. 27 in the sectional tournament at Piketon. Should the Eagles win, they would advance to meet the winner of New Boston vs. Unioto on March 1. Lynchburg would meet the Huntington Huntsmen.
Centralia was a strange team. They were a small, fast-breaking team with a huge center. Floyd Myers was 6’ 5” and weighed 284 pounds. The Bulldogs also had two excellent guards, Bobby Shaw and Bob Dearth, both of whom had outstanding speed and shooting ability. Sinking Spring led 13-12 about midway through the first quarter, but Centralia grabbed the lead and was up 21-13 at the end of the period. The Bulldogs had their biggest quarter of the game in the second stanza when they scored 25 points and held a substantial 45-28 lead at halftime.
The Eagles just didn’t have the muscle inside to go against Myers, who scored 24 points for the game. Bobby Shaw actually led Centralia’s scoring with 25, and Dearth tossed in 21. Larry Huffman put up a valiant battle and scored 26 points for the Eagles, as brother Roger collected 18 and freshman Junior Smittle added 13.
The Eagles put together an excellent season and didn’t back down from anybody. As you move up in the tournaments, you truly need at least one really big man, because you will almost certainly run into some huge teams along the way. A good little team is wonderful, but a good big team is even better.
Lynchburg and Huntington played one of the most exciting games of the entire tournament. Huntington gambled and won a last-second victory over Highland County’s league and tournament champion. It was a heartbreaking loss for Lynchburg, who had battled the Huntsmen all the way. The game came down to the wire with the score tied, 57-57 with 60 seconds remaining after Lynchburg’s Jim Naylor had looped in a long one-hander. Huntington brought the ball down the court and ran out the clock. Meanwhile, Lynchburg, fearful of a foul, did not put much defensive pressure on Huntington. With six seconds left, Huntington’s Larry Workman bounced a shot off the rim. He and Robert Uhrig tipped the ball twice before Workman tipped it in just before the buzzer. It was a tough battle for both teams, and either could have won.
Jacobs and Naylor led Lynchburg in scoring with 14 points each. Workman had 17 to pace Huntington.
Another season was in the books.
(Continued next week.)
Bob Patton is a Highland County sports historian and a contributing writer to The Highland County Press.