Tom Wilson: Has a basketball team ever failed to score?

Tom Wilson

Recently I found a basketball box score from January 1941 revealing that Seaton Grade School defeated Viola 8-0. It is not often that a basketball team on any level fails to score during a game. Galesburg High School records show that their lowest mark was 5 points against Canton in 1916. Galesburg held Macomb to only 2 points in 1926 and Canton to 3 points in 1931. The 1913 Galesburg State Championship team held Kewanee to only 7 points, however the Boilermakers quit after the first quarter.

The honors of a local high school pitching a shutout in basketball belongs to Knoxville. In fact Knoxville (before being tagged the Blue Bullets) held opponents scoreless twice within a week. On Dec. 23, 1928, Knoxille defeated Alexis 34-0 and on Dec. 30 shut out Stuart, Iowa, 31-0. In fact, they almost pulled off a trifecta, holding Gilson to only 3 free throws during a 47-3 drubbing.

A “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” involved Dick Baxter who coached the 1928 Knoxville team. One of Baxter’s teammates while playing college ball at Des Moines University in Iowa became the coach at Knoxville High in Iowa. The two coaches met during the Knoxville excursion through Iowa in 1928, Iowa winning 11-7.

Knox player sets scoring record

On Feb. 3, 1941, Knox College coach Dean Trevor removed his husky sophomore center Jerry Lemon from a game with more than nine minutes remaining. Lemon had established a game scoring record for the “Siwash” by flipping in 10 field goals and six free throws for a record 26 points. A check of the record books showed that the production by Lemon was the most by a Knox player in the 15 years that Trevor was coach. Before that it was most common for college teams to not score 26 points as a unit during a game. The previous record was held by George Donaldson who scored 23 points in a 1935 game. Sam Efnor of Knox scored over 20 points three times in 1940, his highest being 22.

A helping hand for the referee

During February 1941 the Galesburg Silver Streaks and Moline Maroons were involved in a standing room only game at Steele Gym to decide the leader of the Northwest Conference. Talk about low scoring games, with less than two minutes remaining the score was tied at 18. As a Moline player attempted to shoot a free throw the overzealous local fans erupted in an uproar. The Moline player’s free throw bounced off the rim. Immediately, two Silver Streaks players asked the official to give him another chance. The Maroon made the second chance and it proved to be the game winner.

Also during the 1941 season credit should be given to London Mills coach Russ Korty for establishing a procedure to aid the game officials. Whenever an official called a foul on a London Mills player, the guilty lad held one arm up in the air. This act greatly assisted the scorer, referees, coaches and fans to avoid an error in charging a foul.

This unique gesture was eventually adopted throughout the country, however in recent years has vanished from the rules.

A tip of the hat to Lombard ladies

To put it bluntly, yours truly goofed. Thanks to Vicki (Wardell Legge) for pointing out that my recent column on the history of the Lombard gym failed to give credit to females who played in the historic structure. As Vicki rightfully pointed out, Amy Crisman, Debbie Roberts, Becky Roberts, Jane Albright, Melinda Cadwell, Melissa Cadwell, Tiffany Sibley, Trisha Hickey, Christy Hickey, Megan Pacheco, Sarah Pacheco, Ann Henderson, Michelle Flaar, Ashley Shepherd, Whitney Shepherd and Amanda Gunther were just a few of some pretty good basketball players who called Lombard Gym home. I must add that Robert Lindstrom reminded me that his daughter Mary also played in the gym in which Evar Swanson starred.

Tom Wilson is a local historian. Write to him at or at The Register-Mail, 140 S. Prairie St., Galesburg, IL 61401.