SOUTH BEND -- Something special is going to be accomplished by a South Bend boys high school basketball team in a couple months.
Not sure what. Not sure who.
It all started in 1913 when South Bend High School, under the direction of coach J.B. Miller, battled five overtimes before falling to Wingate, 15-14, in the state championship game.
Wonder what the over-under was on that one.
Since then, there have been a state championship (Central 1953), a couple runner-up finishes (Central ‘63, Adams ‘73), two other trips to the state finals (South Bend High ’23, St. Joseph’s ‘93), as well as other milestones that made those “3” years stand out.
All those “3” achievements will be saluted prior to the Clay-Adams varsity game at Adams on Tuesday night.
‘Thanks for the memories’
One of the prominent personalities expected at the gala is Jim Powers. He spans three decades of success with the Central Bears. He was a player in 1943 (ranked No. 1 in the state; upset in the regional by Elkhart High) under John Wooden; a freshman coach/scout for the 1953 state champs; and head coach in ‘63.
“(Elkhart’s) Tom Saunders absolutely went crazy in that game,” Powers said of the 47-43 regional loss that was played at Adams in ‘43. “He made six or seven baskets that seemed to be coming from downtown some place.”
Offense was at a premium in those days. Those 47 points were the most scored against 20-3 Central that season. No other team had more than 38. Powers was the team’s leading scorer with 244 points.
“I remember getting my picture taken with coach Wooden and (IHSAA commissioner) Arthur Trester because I was the free throw (state) champion,” Powers said. “That was a big deal back then.”
Powers said he hit about 80 percent of his attempts — all underhand.
Central’s ‘53 team, under the direction of Elmer McCall, had a formidable lineup led by Paul Harvey (430 points that season), Jack Quiggle (398) and Tom Schafer (392). The Bears knocked off Milan — which made its fairytale run to the title the next year — in the state semifinals, then beat Terre Haute Gertsmeyer, 42-41, for the championship.
“Elmer was big on scouting,” Powers said. “He wanted to know what to expect from the next team we played. I was all over the place that season.
“My job was to be loyal and supportive.”
Powers’ ‘63 team, which finished 26-3, was solid. Mike Warren (461 points) was the star, but Mike Otolski (311) was the leader.
“Our guys did as Mike (Otolski) told them to do,” Powers said. “He ruled the kids.”
Earlier in the season, Central traveled to Muncie Central and came away with a 71-66 victory. The rematch, which decided the state championship, went to Muncie Central, 65-61.