THE 1952 LEVELLAND HIGH SCHOOL
BASKETBALL SEASON

BY CARL PHELAN WITH A LOT
OF HELP FROM LEVELLAND PEOPLE


Photo of 1951-52 Levelland High School
Basketball Team


INTRODUCTION

I, Carl Phelan moved to Levelland, Texas from Smyer, Texas in the summer of 1939.  In the school year of 1942-43, I was in the 7th grade at that time when I met a guy named Max Gross and he and I began to follow and become huge fans of all the sports teams in Levelland, Texas.  We followed football, basketball, track and tennis. We also would go to baseball games by a local semi-pro baseball team called The Levelland Refiners. In the 1943-44 year is when Max and I began to travel to out of town games by “hitchhiking' to the games. In the 1952 Basketball Season we went to all the games at home and the ones on the road.  Sometimes we would get to ride the team bus back to Levelland, but when Clarence Holman was driving he would not allow us to ride the team bus and we would have to catch a ride or hitchhike!

The 1944-45 LHS Basketball team, Euel Palmer, Stancil Israel {related to Curtis Israel}, Joe Garrison, Burl Pierce {related to James Pierce}, Royce Peterson and Jess Clardy {related to Dick Clardy} The team has a 30-3 won lost record and lost by 3 points in the regional finals to Canadian, Texas. Then in the 1945-46 season, the basketball team had a record of 28-3, won the district and regional titles and then lost the first game in the state tournament at Austin to a team from Pasadena, Texas, 50 to 35. In the 1946-47 season D. W. Harkins set the school basketball scoring record of 502 points, which was broken by Harold Phelan in the 1951-52 season with a total of 592 points.

In the 1952 Basketball season, I began to keep records of the teams baskets and free throws made and missed.  At the half of each game Coach Gano Tubb would allow us to come into the dressing room and he would ask for my record book to see how the team was doing.  This routine continued throughout the entire season.  I, also, began to keep a scrapbook of the articles that were printed in local newspapers.  At the end of the 1952 season, I had a scrapbook of all the games that the team had played, and I gave my brother, Harold Phelan, the scrapbook I had kept.  Somehow that scrapbook that I gave to Harold was given to our Mother and we don't know what happened to it.

In March of 2014, I decided to write a Tribute story about the 1951-52 Levelland High School basketball Season to commemorate that year.  The main reason I wanted to do this project, is because I have done these very same things my entire lifetime. I started keeping scrapbooks and family photo albums when I was about 13 years old.  I used to have a hobby of collecting things such as old coins, postage stamps, match book covers known (also as gofer matches), marbles of all kind and colors.  At school during our recess periods, we would play what was called “Keep;” we would put marbles in a circle and then take what was called a “tall” and used it to knock other marbles out of the circle and we got to keep these marbles.  Of course I kept a scrapbook of all the athletic events that went on at LHS.  The most famous one was the one I kept of the 1951-52 BB Season.  I gave this scrapbook to Harold. None of these scrapbooks survived the storms of life. Whatever happened to them I do not know.  I do believe that most of the photo albums did survive and, when my parents both passed away, I inherited the photo albums.  In the last several decades, I have made several photo albums of my family, my children, grandchildren and in the last year, my one and only great granddaughter.  In 1995 my two children, Kevin and Shannon, asked me to write an autobiography of my life, and I did that updating it every year.  In the final analysis, these tributes are just something that I am compelled to do.

This Tribute to the 1951-52 LHS BB Season, will be written to commemorate the team concept and will not feature any special favor to individual.  That team was successful, because all members of the team worked together as a team throughout the entire season; that was the reason they were successful.  The main five starters were all seniors; they were Harold Phelan, Langford Sneed, Frank Burnett, Jerald Parmer and James Pierce.  The sixth man was Ronnie Leatherman.  The other members of the traveling squad were, Curtis Israel, Kenley Fortner, Charles Suits, and Dock Sewell.  Donald Suits was the team manager; Other members of the “B” team were Dick Miller, Dicky Clardy, Eugene Bentley, Dick Bailey and Bob Odell.  The head coach was Gano Tubb and the assistant coach, of the ”B” team was Pat Bailey.

The team participated in District 7AA and was in Region 1-AA.  The Basketball Queen for the Lobos was Mary Beth Eatherly a junior at Levelland High School.  The Cheerleaders for LHS were Ray Winn, Carolyn Kirk, Jackie Qualls, Darrell Standerfer, and Joan Cummins.  Following is a list of the complete schedule of all games that the team played that season.

This is the complete schedule compliments of Harold Phelan who sent me a copy of his Scrapbook of the entire basketball season:

Scores For 1951-52 LHS BB Season
Harold Phelan {1952}
Granbury, Texas

 1. Lobos 43 Lubbock Westerners 21.
 2. Lobos 62 Roosevelt 21
 3. Lobos 44 Lubbock Westerners 25.
 4. Lobos 45 Lorenzo 30

Hardin Simmons Tournament

 5. Lobos 47 Sweetwater 29
 6. Lobos 33 Ft. Worth Poly 42.
 7. Lobos 43 Abilene 44.
 8. Lobos 32 Sudan 27.
 9. Lobos 33 Texas Tech Frosh 30.
10. Lpbos 53 Hart 22.
11. Lobos 49 Muleshoe 36.
12 Lobos 31 Dinnitt 36. {Finals Sudan Tournament} 13. Lobos 71 Lorenzo 37.
14. Lobos 45 Big Spring 32.
15. Lobos 41 Canyon 30.
16. Lobos 65 Littlefield 21.
17. Lobos 51 Muleshoe 35.
18. Lobos 46 Brownfield 43.

Andrews Tournament

19. Lobos 47 Abernathy 45.
20. Lobos 44 Seminole 42.
21. Lobos 46 Andrews 58.

22. Lobos 41 Canyon 39.
23. Lobos 81 Morton 18.
24. Lobos 61 Littlefield 39.
25. Lobos 78 Morton 18.
26. Lobos 46 Muleshoe 41.
27. Lobos 51 Brownfield 42.
28. Lobos 68 Tahoka 41.
29. Lobos 65 Idalou 40.
30. Lobos 46 Idalou 33.
31. Lobos 34 Abernathy 32.
32. Lobos 47 Big Spring 37.

Regional Tournament at Texas Tech Gym in Lubbock, Texas

33. Lobos 55 Snyder 43.
34. Lobos 33 Quanah 31.
35. Lobos 56 Canyon 55.
State Tournament in Austin, Texas at Gregory Gym on the campus of The University of Texas

36. Lobos 44 French Beaumont 40.
37. Lobos 59 Bowie 65 AA State Finals.
38. Lobos 65 Plano 47. 3rd Place in Class AA-A .

Bowie lost to Dimmitt in the Class AA-A State Championship Game.

The Lobos ended up the season with a 34-4 record.
Runner-up in Class AA and Third Place in Class-AA-A.


INDIVIDUAL STORIES FROM MEMBERS
OF THE 1951-52 LEVELLAND HIGH SCHOOL
BASKETBALL TEAM PLUS STORIES FROM
BASKETBALL QUEEN, CHEERLEAEDERS,
AND FANS

Story About Harold Phelan
When I asked Harold to send me a story about his experience with the 1951-52 LHS Basketball Season, he told me he had one more copy of the scrapbook for the Lobos for that year. He told me he would send it to me and then I could use whatever I wanted to in the scrapbook.

He also told me that when I write the story of that team to concentrate on expressing the team concept and not on the individual. I have done this in my Tribute to the team.

He also said that Max Gross and I were the two most faithful fans and supporters of the team.  We went to every one of the games, and sometimes we were the only ones from Levelland that were there.  Harold also told me about the time we were playing Brownfield in our gym. Max Gross had gotten so nervous about the score of the game that he went outside at halftime, and when he came back into the gym he had his eyes covered and he would not look at the scoreboard.  I told him what the score was and we were ahead by 2 or 3 points.  The game was very close but we won the game.  Max and I also had a silly superstition that we did at halftime of each game we would change seating places.  That was supposed to bring us good luck in the second half of the game.

I used the scrapbook Harold sent me to list the scores of all of the Lobo games.  I made a copy of the scrapbook and then sent it back to him.

I had also kept a scrapbook of my own about all of the games that the team played.  At the end of the season I gave the scrapbook to Harold.  When I ask him what had happened to the scrapbook, he told he that he had let our Mother keep it for him but never got it back and we do not know what happened to it.
 

LANGFORD SNEED STORY
FOR TRIBUTE TO 1951-52 LHS
BASKETBALL SEASON

April 13, 2014
Richardson. Texas
Telephone Interview

Langford Sneed called Carl Phelan on Sunday afternoon at 3:15 P.M.. He told me that he did not play basketball his junior year. He said that his junior year he worked part time at Piggly Wiggly.

In the summer of 1951, Langford had been working in the oil field and was contacted by Coach Gano Tubb who told Langford that he thought the Lobo Basketball team had a chance to have a winning season and asked him if he wanted to practice in the gym to prepare for the next basketball season; he said that Harold and some others went to the gym practically every day. That summer. Coach Tubb would let them have the keys to the gym, but of course he was not allowed to do any coaching during the off season it would be against UIL rules.

Langford told me that his practice session during the summer prepared him for playing against all the teams in their conference; he teams in District 7-AA were, Littlefield, Brownfield, Morton and Muleshoe.  Langford said that he had learned to play good defense that helped him in district games and in the non-district game with Canyon and the Regional Games at Texas Tech Gym in Lubbock, Texas. Langford said that he guarded Ray Burrus from the Canyon Eagles and held him to just about 8 points. Sneed's defense also helped the Lobos to win the semi-final game with the Quanah Indians 33 to 31. This was the game and the shot that Harold Phelan made at the halftime buzzer.


A Langford Sneed Story by Leighton Railsback {1952}

Who can forget how frustrated Temple Tucker was because Langford got hold of his jersey and his shorts and kept him from getting rebounds and making crip shots right under the basket. I remember that Langford was about six inches shorter than Tucker but he managed to hold him down some; we did lose the game but played valiantly.  Who was not there when the team left for Austin to the state tournament?  We were at Phelan's School Store to see the team off; we were all filled with pride to see the team go to state and they had deserved to go for their determined and dedicated team play!
 

Another Langford Sneed story by Jim Black {1953}

There are a lot of stories of how tough Langford was in football and in basketball. One story was when the football team was practicing and l Lanford turned back the fingernail on his thumb, he went to the sidelines and borrowed a knife from the coach and trimmed his nail and went right back out on the field. Langford also had the reputation of playing under the basket and he would extend his arms and elbows out and clear out anyone else who might try to rebound the ball. He was a very nice guy off the field and he did not bother anyone unless they challenged him that is when he would get into action.
 

Buel K. Fortner
Mon, Mar 17, 2014
1952 BASKETBALL TEAM
AUSTIN, TEXAS

CARL,

GOOD TO HEAR FROM YOU AND SINCE WE LIVE CLOSE, WE WILL GET TOGETHER AND HAVE COFFEE OR SOMETHING. US OLD GUYS DO NOT DRINK MUCH ELSE.
1952 WAS A GREAT YEAR; I GOT TO PLAY A LOT OF FOOTBALL,

MAINLY DEFENSE. I DID NOT CONTRIBUTE MUCH TO THE WINNING BASKETBALL SEASON, EXCEPT IN PRACTICE.

WE HAD AN ALL SENIOR STARTING LINEUP AND GANO DID NOT USE MANY PLAYERS UNLESS HE HAD TO. WE HAD AN ALL JUNIOR SECOND FIVE - RONNIE LEATHERMAN, CHARLES SUITS, CURTIS ISRAEL, DOCK SEWELL AND ME. WE WORKED HARD IN PRACTICE AND MADE THE TEAM BETTER BECAUSE THEY HAD TO WORK HARD TO GET ANYTHING GOING RUNNING THE OFFENSE. YOU KNOW , WE ONLY HAD ABOUT THREE PLAYS, BUT THAT IS ALL YOU NEED TO RUN A RUN AND SHOOT OFFENSE. PRACTICE WAS HARDER THAN SOME GAMES BECAUSE OF OUR HARD WORK AND BESIDES THAT WE FOULED A LOT, MAKING IT EVEN HARDER.

THE STATE TOURNAMENT WAS FUN AND EVERYBODY DOES NOT GET TO PLAY THERE. MY CONTRIBUTION WAS TWO POINTS IN THE FINAL GAME. HOW MANY HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PLAYERS CAN SAY THAT?

I HOPE YOUR STORY TURNS OUT GOOD, KENLEY FORTNER
 

"Roll the ball, Split the post and Lordy Mercy"
by Curtis Israel {1952}
23 March 2014 Midland, Texas

How could a County Judge take a Policeman, a Certified Public Accountant, a Pharmacist, a Tax Assessor-Collector and a District Judge and create a legend in his own time? He performed this almost miracle by teaching a bunch of basketball playing teenagers how to "roll the ball," "split the post" and calling out in a voice that could be heard above the sound of a Texas tornado the command, "Lordy Mercy!!!!!"

My memory begins the year 1952 in Levelland, Texas. People were getting excited in the town and at the high school. The Levelland Lobos basketball team was hoping to be contenders for a run to the state basketball tournament in Austin. Much credit can be given to a bunch of determined young men who liked to play their best and hope for a little "lady luck" along the way. As Harold Phelan would say some years later, "We were lucky." But we must not forget to give some credit to the ability and experience of the Lobos and their coach.

The coach, I called him the little man with a pocket knife, who could do a chin-upwith one hand, but the pocket knife and the chin-up that is another story or two.Coach Gano Tubb was a simple man with a simple plan. He didn't clog upthe machinery with a bunch of complicated plays. He relied on his many years of coaching experience and the talent of his team to get the job done. I am sure Gano has been recognized with many honors for his contributions to basketball in his community and the state of Texas. I recall his being selected to the Texas Basketball Coaches Honor Page, numerous college memorial funds and a gymnasium that bears his name. If someone wanted to research Coach Tubb's records I feel confident that the work would prove that Gano was truly a legend in his own time. Ask Mack, Dick or Joe. They are the three sons of Gano and Goldie. I would think that they can tell us some stories.

As I remember, Coach Gano's simple instructions were: roll the ball, split the post and when one failed to execute the play properly--"LORDY MERCY" which meant- try to do better next time. Believe me when I tell you that I heard that story more than once!  I can remember like it was yesterday; watching five guys whose height was probably 5'8" to 6'2" execute these simple assignments with almost perfection. They performed so well that their ability to execute would take them into the finals of the state basketball tournament in Austin.

Go with me to the inside of a basketball gymnasium. Our story will be on the offensive end of the gym. Above is the goal. The markings on the floor are the lines of the free throw lane, the semi-circle and the free shot line.

ROLL THE BALL: Never get caught standing still with the ball if you played for Gano Tubb. If you were not moving you would hear that familiar call, "ROLL THE BALL, MOVE THE BALL, LORDY MERCY!" The objective for rolling the ball was to keep trying to get closer to the basket to get a good shot. This play usually began with Phelan dribbling or passing the ball from the top of the free throw circle to Burnett. I can see it now! Burnett begins the play by dribbling to the left side of the circle. I can still see those long arms and that left hand dribbling that ball around the "key". He would try to drive to the basket for a shot. If that failed he tossed the ball to Sneed in the free shot lane or Pierce in the corner. If Sneed couldn't get off a shot he passed to the outside to Parmer or Phelan who would try to get a shot. If no shot was made, roll the ball continued from that position. The roll might continue from Phelan to Burnett to Pierce to Parmer until someone could get a shot or throw the ball into Sneed who could then set up an opportunity to "split the post". But the best play of all was watching Phelan drive the free throw lane for a lay-up or two free shots or two points and one free throw. When all else failed I see Phelan spread those fingers on the ball, pump that left leg and "pop the net".

SPLIT THE POST: If you watch the pro teams on TV as they play today, you will see that they do the same thing as we did in '52. Each player is always on the move-in and out, round and around they go, trying to get the ball into position for a good shot. They are constantly moving the ball, trying to get it inside to the man in/out of the free throw lane. I don't know what it is called now, but back in '52 the player who played beneath the basket and in/out of the free throw lane was called the "center" or "the post" Sneed would have the ball in and/out of the free throw lane. Each of the other four players would alternate turns (split), running in quick succession past Sneed for a possible hand off and a lay-up shot, thus the term "split the post". Needless to say, oftentimes everything would get clogged up when the opponent would double or triple team our player.  If you didn't pass the ball off fast enough, you could hear Coach Gano shout, "MOVE THE BALL" which was another way of saying, "Set up and Roll the Ball". Believe me again when I tell you that I heard that story more than once, also. And again I am aware of being repetitive
when I say, "The best play of all was watching Phelan drive past his defender into the free throw lane for a lay-up or two free shots or spreading those fingers on the ball, pumping that left leg and "popping the net".

Well, we made it to the state tournament by the hair of our chinny chin chin. The first game at the regional tournament was with Snyder and the Lobos won 55 to 43, Quanah beat Tahoka in their first game and that was the game that Phelan made a shot, as the buzzer sounded, from mid-court to help us beat Quanah, 22 to 31 in the semi-finals at the regional tournament in Lubbock, Texas. They also had a close call with Canyon in the regional finals, 56 tp 55. Ron Leatherman had replaced Pierce, who had broken his foot or leg. If I remember correctly, the only games we lost in 1952 were in "tournaments." PolyTech Fort Worth, Abilene, Dimmitt, Bowie and I think one other team.

I watched from the bench most of the final game of the state tournament against Bowie and "Tree Top" Temple Tucker. (He was 6'11" tall and was All-American at Rice University.) I played the last few minutes because several of the starting team fouled out. I made a few points and did my best but not good enough to beat the legendary "Tree Top". I remember that old Gregory Gymnasium being the loudest place that I had ever played. It mattered not which team scored a basket. The noise of the fans would begin with a low rumble and continue to get louder and louder until it maxed out like a screaming strong wind that sounded like a Texas tornado coming down Tornado Alley. If you were to listen closely during all of this noise, you might hear that old familiar shout: "LORDY MERCY"!

One of the most enjoyable times in my life was playing with the 1952 state runner-up championship Lobos team:

James Pierce, the Policeman
Jerald Parmer, the CPA
Langford Sneed, the Pharmacist
Frank Burnett, the Tax Assessor-Collector and co-founder of Little Dribblers 1969
Harold Phelan, County Attorney of Hockley County, the District Judge 286th Judicial District of Texas and co-founder of Little Dribblers Youth Basketball Program in1969.
And last but not least: The little general Coach Gano Tubb, County Judge of Hockley County, Texas.
Other members of the team: Ronnie Leatherman, Kenley Fortner, Dock Sewell, Charles Suits and Curtis Israel. Donald Suits was the team manager.

It would be improper and I would be amiss if I failed to mention in this treatise four of my friends of the 1952 season.
-Carl Phelan and Max Gross were two of the many fans who fought the elements to attend all of the 1952 games. Hitch-hiking to the games, sleeping on park benches and in hotel lobbies, they endured to the end; being faithful fans of the Levelland Lobos runner-up State Champs. Thank you Carl. Thank you Max. Double Thanks to you Carl. You also supported me in Alpine as a Sul Ross Lobo.

Bob Odell and Richard (Dick) Bailey were asked by Gano to attend the state tourney with the varsity team. They were playing on the "B" team at this time. It reveals to me the heart and soul of Gano Tubb. He was always seeking a way to encourage young players who had lots of potential to excel in future years. It was good medicine for me to know that Bob and Dick would have such an opportunity to travel with us. They would become the leaders of Gano's 1954 Lobo team. Thank you Bob and Dick for your support at the state tournament.

This is my story and I'm sticking to it.
-Curtis Israel
#13 Levelland Lobos 1951-52-53 #13 Sul Ross Lobos 1953-54-55 #13 Stanolind Oilers 1955-56-57
Other Curtis Stories:
-Gano's trademark- his mumblety-peg knife.
-Gano's Strong arms or aka the one arm chin-up
-The time I missed the bus aka "Lobos win the Brownfield tournament
without Israel and Freeman.
-An unusual opportunity aka "How I made the Varsity Team at Sul Ross
as a red shirt Freshman".


Thoughts and Memories Of
1951-1952 Basketball Season
Jerold Parmer {1952}

Granbury, Texas

I moved to Levelland in January of 1950. The 1949-50 school year was the first year in the new high school, the current middle school. In the early 1950’s, Levelland was considered a football town. In the fall of 1950, Levelland advanced to the state quarterfinals in the football playoffs. Levelland often won district in those days. In 1951 Levelland tied with Brownfield and Littlefield for the district championship. Brownfield won the toss for the right to advance to the playoffs. That meant it was time to start basketball.

Our preseason workout time was short, less than two weeks. The roster included five seniors and starters, Harold Phelan, Langford Sneed, Frank Burnett, James Pierce and Jerold Parmer. The juniors on the team were Kenley Fortner, Ronnie Leatherman, Charles Suits, Doc Sewell and Curtis Israel. On the second week, we played three games on consecutive nights, all in our gym. We beat Lubbock High twice by about twenty points and Roosevelt by an even greater margin. Lubbock only had one high school at that time and had won the AAAA state championship the prior year. At that point everyone know we were in for a great year.

We continued to win the next several games before we entered the Abilene tournament. I believe that it was played in the Hardin Simmons gym. Our first game was with Sweetwater, which we won without a problem. On Saturday morning we played Poly Tech of Fort Worth, which later won the AAAA state championship. We lost by less than ten points. Poly’s big player was Richard O’Neal, who later starred for TCU. That night we played Abilene for third place. We did not play a great game. With seconds to play we were behind by one point. I managed a steal, and raced to our basket for an open layup. The ball rolled off the rim and hit the floor just as the final buzzer rang. That was our second loss in one day and a low point in our season.

A couple of weeks later, we played in the Sudan tournament. In our second game, we played Sudan on a Friday afternoon. We won but by a low margin. We then immediately drove to Big Spring and played a night game. We won by a comfortable margin. On Saturday night, we played Dimmitt and lost by again less than ten points. Dimmitt went undefeated that year, winning the class A state championship. We had played four games in three days.

Our next tournament was the Andrews tournament. We won the first two games. We played Andrews on Saturday night. We did not play well, and there was considerable dissatisfaction with the referees. We had several players foul out, but still were leading by one point with about ten seconds to play. We had the ball out of bounds, the ref called that we did not inbound the ball within the ten seconds allowed and awarded to ball the Andrews. They came down court on a two on one break and scored. Again, we lost by one point. We had considerable dissatisfaction with that game, but in my opinion, it made us a better team. We realized that we could be beaten and caused us to play with determination in the playoff games.

During the Christmas break, one of our highlights for the year occurred. Al Allison, a local attorney, was a member of the Texas Tech Red Raider Club. He arranged for the Tech Red Raiders to come to Levelland and conduct a basketball clinic in our new gym. In the afternoon, Polk Robinson the raider coach, and the raiders put on a demonstration for developing basketball skills and demonstrated game tactics. That night we, the lobos, were to play a preliminary game and the raiders were to play a inter-squad game. Our opponent did not show. In those days, high school games were composed of four quarters of eight minutes each, and college games were two halves of twenty minutes each. We played the Red Raider freshman team for a twenty minute half. We won by about four points, but were far enough ahead that the reserves played for a few minutes. It was a real boost for our ego, but could not count in our official won-loss record.

Also, in the latter part of the Christmas break, we played a previously unscheduled game in Abernathy. We were leading by a small score at half time. Shortly after the beginning of the third quart, Lankford fouled out. I played the center position for the remainder of the game. Also, Abernathy put a double team defense on Harold, our best scorer. It was probably my most productive game of the year. I scored sixteen points and collected numerous rebounds in the second half. We won by two points.

After the holidays, we started district play. One of our early games was with Morton. The team had elected Mary Beth Eatherly as our queen. As captain I had the privilege of escorting Mary Beth to center court and delivering the traditional kiss. This was one of the highlights of the season for me. We easily defeated Morton, one of the weaker teams in the district.

We went through district play undefeated. In the last game of district play, we played Brownfield. It was very close at the end of the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, we hit a streak and opened a six or eight point margin. Later in the quarter, Langford had fouled out, and a Brownfield played fouled Harold three times in a very short time. The last foul was an unnecessary hard shove. I remember seeing Langford coming from the bench, with his right arm cocked and his fist clenched. Gano had hold of Langford by his belt and with Gano’s heels dug in. The officials got the potential fight stopped. As I recall, Brownfield scored only two points in the fourth quarter and we won by about twelve.

The regional tournament was held in Lubbock in the Texas Tech gym. Our first game was against Snyder, in the afternoon. School was let out and buses were run for everyone to come to the game. We won the game by about ten points. On Saturday morning, we played Quanah. This was almost our demise. I am sure that our thoughts were on the final game to be played that night against Canyon. Late in the fourth quarter, Quanah was leading by two points and went into a stall. We got a steal and scored to tie the game. We got a second steal, and Harold scored on an outside shot. We won by two points. This game had gotten embellished over the years. The embellished version was that we were down by one point and the buzzer sounded as Harold’s shot was in the air.

We played Canyon in the regional championship game on Saturday night. It was a difficult game, but we played well. Canyon’s primary player was a big center named Ray Burrus, who went on the play for West Texas State. The gym was totally packed, with fans sitting on court side with their feet extending onto the court. Late in the game Harold made two free throws to put us ahead by one point. We rebound their missed shot and Harold dribbled the time out for the win. I believe the final score was 56-55. We were on our way to Austin.

Our first game in Austin was against French of Beaumont and on Harold’s eighteenth birthday. We led most of the way and was mostly uneventful. I do remember that they had a big strong center, almost a copy of Langford. On a particular rebound their center and Langford came down with both having a good grip on the ball. As they tugged the ball almost became egg shaped. I thought we would need a new ball. The game continued and we won by four points.

The state championship game against Bowie was played in the afternoon on March 7, which was my eighteenth birthday. Bowie had a very good and very tall center by the name of Temple Tucker, who played for Rice University for four years. We lost the game by six points. We were down by a margin in the mid teens in the third quarter, but closed the game to a much closer score. Langford did a great defensive effort against Tucker, keeping him pushed away from the basket. Much of their scoring was from a player shooting jump shots from around the circle. I have always felt that we were capable of winning that game.

In this particular year the UIL had drawn a bracket for the finalist of class A and class AA, to meet in a playoff. We played Plano in our final game for third place in the bracket. We played well enough that Gano, played our substitutes. Most of the subs, and I believe all, got to play in a game in the state tournament. We ended the year with a record of thirty-four wins and four losses. Three of the losses were to eventual state champions, Dimmitt in class A, Bowie in class AA, and Poly Tech in class AAAA. The other loss was to Abilene in the Hardin Simmons tournament.

In retrospect, I believe one of greater attributes was attitude. There was never animosity or selfishness on the team. Everyone was committed to doing all possible for the good of the team. Harold was an all-state guard. Thus, we never had a problem bringing the ball down the floor or with the press. Langford was a very good defensive center. He had the strength and ability to keep opposing post players from camping under the basket. We had good height, as Langford, Frank, James and I were all six feet or better. We were generally able to control most of the rebounds. We ran a simple offense. The guards brought the ball down and we ran something similar to a weave. We were always free to break toward the basket for a layup or jump shot. Gano was great to play for. He seldom criticized. However, an unforced turnover, was cause for a shout. Anyone that ever played for Gano could pick his voice out of a crowd with the whole gym roaring.

The fans were wonderful and supportive. I remember looking up toward the bleachers, and all seats were full, up to the windows on the top row. We played in some real cracker box gyms that year. In Littlefield, the gym was so small there was no out of bounds lines. The ball was live until it hit the walls. On one end the ceiling was so low that it was impossible to shoot from the outside. In Canyon the court was short of regulation. In fact, it had two mid-court stripes. One stripe if you were going to the north and another if you were going to the south. Our Levelland gym was wonderful. It was the second year of use for it. It was large, new and spacious.
And of course, with much fondness that I remember that year.


James Pierce Story {1951-52} BB Season
Lindale, Texas, 4-20-2014

Dear Carl:

Good hearing from you! I will be brief as all my records are at home in Texas. My wife Jean and I have just completed a 15 day cruise to Hawaii. A little of my history: Jean and I have four boys, the oldest Dwight is 62, Randy is 59, Troy is 56, and Barry is 45.  I retired from the Dallas Police Department in 1990. We presently live in East Texas near Tyler, with a Colorado summer home in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

All memories of the 1952 Basketball Team go back to our years together in Junior and High School. As you know Harold, Langford and Frank Burnett and myself grew up playing basketball in the early years. Jerold Parmer came later.

We lived in the gym. Gano would let us in the gym whenever we wanted, which turned out to be a lot. We developed a closeness for each other and we played well together. My best thoughts of course are at the basketball clinic at Levelland when we played against Carl Ince and the Lubbock Texas Tech Freshman beating them. Just prior to this game Frank Burnett gave me a black eye and I guess that helped me to shoot better. He told me he was gonna do the other one, these are fond memories of Frank!

I hope the correspondence from the others showed them well. I am 78 years old and doing all right now. I had a bout with an infection from knee surgery two years ago, I am better now.

Carl I hope you and your family are well. Tell Harold hello for me, Sincerely, James Pierce


Dock Sewell Story {1954}
Kerrville, Texas
By Carl Phelan

Dock was a substitute on the traveling squad. I had asked him several times to write a story about his experience on the team, but I think Dock was just to humble and shy to write his story, so I wrote it for him. He played an important role on this team. He gave his moral and vocal support to all the members of the starting team. He did play in some games and he always gave his best effort every time he went into the game.
 

A Special Tribute

I would like to give a special tribute to all the players on that team that have passed on and gone to that great gym in the sky. Frank Burnett, Ronnie Leatherman and Charles Suits. Also to Donald Suits who was the Lobo team manager. I would also like to give a special tribute to cheerleaders, Ray Winn and Darrell Standerfer who are leading cheers in that great auditorium in the sky. All of these people were a very important part of the memory and legacy of that 1851-52 Basketball team.
 

Dick Miller Story {Class of 1954}

I was a sophomore in the 1951-52 basketball season; and I was on the “B” team, However I went to almost every game. George Marcom and I went to the State Tournament in Austin and rode with Bill Clark. We won our first game with French of Beaumont, 44 to 40 and then we came up against Bowie and Temple Tucker and lost 65 to 59. It was a great season and will go down in the annals of Lobo history as one of the greatest.


Derry Don Harding Story {Class of 1954}

I went to the state basketball tournament in Austin and enjoyed the trip. I was a substitute on the “B” team and remember when I turned in my uniform; it was the last time I remember seeing Coach Gano Tubb. I do have fond memories of him and all the members of that 1951-52 basketball team.


Marvin & Peggy Toombs Story {1953}
Levelland, Texas

I remember being excited about the whole season. I don't think I missed a home game, I listened to all of the away games on the radio {KLVT}. I remember in the state tournament that James Pierce got hurt and Ronnie Leatherman took his place in that final game with Bowie. It seems like yesterday and I will always have fond memories of that year of 1951-52.
 

Jim Black Story {1953}
Levelland, Texas

Carl, I was not a basketball player, but I went to most of the games. I remember some of the close games with Brownfield, Sudan and Muleshoe. I also went to the games at the Regional Tournament in Lubbock at the Texas Tech Gym. The lst two games there were really close and very exciting to watch. The game with Quanah in the semi-finals and then with Canyon in the finals. Both of these games were heart stoppers.
 


Photo of Mary Beth Eatherly Richmond
LHS Basketball Queen 1951-52 Season
{Plus Clipping from the Levelland Daily Sun News}


Story By Basketball Queen
Mary Beth Eatherly Richmond {1953}

The 1951-52 LHS Basketball Season

The year was 1952 and where were you?

Carl, you asked me to recall 1952 and being crowned Basketball Queen that year. Listen, sometimes I can't remember what I ate for dinner last night much less what happened 62 years ago! Wow! What a challenge to think that far back but here we go!

My Mother cried most of the time that first year in West Texas as we endured vicious sandstorms like nothing we'd ever seen before! No roses in bloom, that’s for sure! But our pioneer spirit surfaced and we endured and soon tumble weeds replaced roses and Levelland became ‘home’.

Let me fast forward to my Junior year in high school having fun being a cheerleader and loving being part of a close knit community in a small town where everyone knew each other and hard work was normal and mother’s cooked dinner and sewed for entertainment, and talked on a two-party line.

However, as life will do when things are too perfect, 1952 pitched me a curve ball, and I was told my Dad's job was moving us to Ozona where my Dad would drill the first oil well on The Mitchell Ranch where rattlesnakes were common and ranches stretched from one town to the next. Ozona was known to have more millionaire families per capita than anywhere in the U.S. and it was going to be really different from what I’d grown up with. I was not anxious to trade one for the other but my parents informed I was not eligible to vote on the subject so start packing!

I started first grade in Levelland and never had attended another school and to be moving in my Junior year of High School, let me say, I was not a happy camper!
I remember wondering if they would even know what a "Super Dog" was and knew for sure there wouldn't be a drive inn like Kirk's! And as I would find out, there wasn't!

I always felt the honor bestowed on me as "queen" of the basketball team was more an act of sympathy for me with everyone knowing my reluctance to leave my familiar surroundings and many good friends, and almost a final farewell gift more than anything else. Nonetheless, I was and still am, thrilled and flattered to have been chosen and more than a little embarrassed when I look at my picture in the annual. It truly was pitiful! The day that picture was taken I remember all too well. Now, you have to remember we were moving away from the only people I'd ever known. You guys were the ones we chased up and down dark ally's in Wayne Thompson's car with the lights out. We were so lucky someone didn't get killed in those chases.

I got my first kiss there when I was about 7 years old when I missed school one day, because I was sick and Jimmy Black and Gerald Don Able came to call. When it was time to leave, Jimmy gave me peck on the cheek and it startled me and scared him so bad he ran out the door and all the way home, I think. He never looked my way again so that may have cured him for a few years! Ha

This was the same year Jimmy and Gerald Don collided at recess and one of them, think it was Jimmy or maybe both of them, was taken to the hospital and had stitches! It was really serious. They nearly killed each other! They were “speed demons” even in first grade!

I learned to drive a car in Levelland with Sam Hollis’ looking on. It was where Phyllis Ann Phillips and I would take her Mother's car out for a spin at night when they went to the Country Club for dinner with friends! Did I tell that?

I was sworn to secrecy especially when her little brother, Johnny, then about 7 years old rode on the fender with Phyllis driving around the block in the dark and of course, she was only about 11 or 12 years old and Dr. Phillips returned early from dinner and caught Phyllis in the act. Thank heavens I wasn't spending the night that time! Oh, my goodness! Can't believe the things we did, and I'm still here to tell about it!

When we were 8 years old, Annette (Stark) and I rode double on her bike as my folks wouldn’t let me have one, because a child they had known in East Texas was killed on one. So, Annette shared. We still have a friendship after all these years. How many people still have a friendship after 70 years? I think that’s special!

The night before my basketball queen picture was taken for the annual, I decided to cut my bangs myself and they simply shrunk overnight! Next morning I was horrified when I looked in the mirror. Then went to get the dress I planned to wear for the picture taking only to find it had somehow gotten packed for the move to Ozona. It was Murphy’s law at work!

I literally had to scramble to find the hideous pleated skirt and top I finally wore and those moccasins? Laudy, Miss Maudy! Where did those come from? Well, I am part Choctaw Indian, you know. Not as much Indian as Gayle Ewing, though. She was a “whole-lotta” Indian!

Well, the show did go on, and we did move to Ozona where I graduated in 1953 but always felt I didn’t get to finish my story by graduating with my class from Levelland High School.

I believe these memories have served a purpose by reminding us all how lucky we were to grow up at that time and in that place but without your stories, Carl, these memories would have been packed away for another 62 years and never shared.

Glad to have added another story for your book and perhaps by writing this I have finished my story as well.  Let me just say to the whole team, I loved being your "queen" even if just for a day! You guys really showed “good sportsmanship” by choosing me and if there wasn’t that horrible picture to prove it, I might not even believe it myself!


Slow Down

How long has it been 
since you’ve watched kids
On a merry-go-round
Or listened to the rain
 

Ever followed a bird's
erratic flight
Or gazed at the sun
as it slips into night

You better slow down
Don't dance so fast
Time is short
The music won't last

Do you rush through each day
Just running on by
When you ask “How are you”
Do you even hear the reply

When the day is done
Do you lie in your bed
With a hundred chores still
Running through your head

You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast
Time is short
The music won't last

Ever told your child
We'll do it tomorrow
And in your haste
Not see a face Full of sorrow

Ever lost touch and
Let a good friendship die
because you never had time
To just call and say, 'Hi'

You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast
Time is short
The music won't last

When you run so fast
to get somewhere
You miss half the fun
of getting there

When you worry and hurry
Through every day
It’s like a beautifully wrapped
gift never given away
Life’s not a race
Let’s take it slower
Listen to the song
before the music is over

BY Mary Beth (Eatherly) Richmond
Las Vegas, Nevada
March, 2014


 


Photo of 1951-52 LHS Cheerleaders


Carolyn Kirk Rush Cheerleader Story
1951-52 LHS BB Season
Lubbock, Texas
Carolyn Rush April 16, 2014

Regarding my first experience as a newly elected Sophomore cheerleader representing LHS I felt so honored & excited just to be nominated---to be chosen was totally unbelievable. I was in such great company and we had such a good time together. I have only good memories of our hours of practice, travel time and hoping we made a good representation as ambassadors for Levelland High School students. We truly enjoyed Mr. Reed, Scooter & Snee-Bo (Scooter's dog). Daddy & Mother were always great to help Sharon & I to participate in our many school activities plus working @ Kirk's. It was just our "normal" teenage years and we were so blessed to always have so many good friends. We always felt good that God chose to allow us to have friends from all-walks of life. What beautiful hearts to be surrounded by.


Jackie Qualls Phelan Cheerleader Story
1951-52 LHS BB Season
Jackie Qualls Phelan {1952}
Cheerleader Story

It was an honor for me to be a cheerleader and help to represent the students, the faculty and administration and the people in the town of Levelland, Texas. I enjoyed working with Ray Winn, Carolyn Kirk Rush, Darrell Standerfer and Joan Cummins Johnson. It was a great experience and I have fond memories that will last forever.
 


Joan Cummins Johnson Cheerleader Story {1955}
A Letter Sent on 4-24-2014
1951-52 LHS BB Season

Carl, what I remember about the State Championship Tournament is how little I remember after 62 years. I remember Harold Phelan handling the ball before the championship game. I remember him dribbling the ball around the floor and the other players on the other team tried to catch him and take away the ball. They were not able to catch him and take the ball away. In tht same game the other team had a super star that was 6 feet and 8 inches tall. We played hard but we lost that game. I honestly do not remember how we got to the game or which hotel we stayed in. It was the first State Championship game I had ever been to and I was so excited to be there. As a Freshman you can imagine getting to be with the upper classmates was a big thrill for me.


I have attached a copy of the 1951-52 Student Handbook Cover that shows a picture of all the cheerleaders that year. It was good to visit with you and Jackie.

Sincerely, Joan Cummins Johnson
Photo Of Student Handbook Cover Levelland High School 1951-52


Bob & Linda Odell Story BB Season 3-12-2014 Levelland, Texas

Carl, Bob said he could write a book about the 1951-52 BB season, but he said he will have to get his thoughts together. I will try to hurry him up.
Bob & Linda Odell - 1952 State Tournament

1. I remember at the end of the season, Gano chose the players that would make the trip to Austin. All year he had used 5 seniors and 5 juniors.
5 seniors Harold Phelan, Langford Sneed, Frank Burnett, Jerold Parmer, & James Pierce,
5 juniors Dock Sewell Kenley Fortner, Ronnie Leatherman, Curtis Israel, & Charles Suits and of course Team Manager Donald Suits,
AND 2 sophomores Bob Odell, Dick Bailey

We punched our ticket to Austin by beating Canyon 56-55 in the final Regional game and by beating Quanah by one point in the Regional first game with Phelan making a half-court shot at the buzzer!

I remember early one morning, we met in our gym on top of the SW corner. We had a pep rally and then we headed to Austin!

We stayed in what I thought was a big hotel in downtown Austin. We took the bus each day to the gym and ate at a downtown cafeteria.

Our first game was with French of Beaumont. We beat them 44-40 to advance to the game with Bowie. Bowie had a 6'11" player named Temple Tucker. He was TOO much for us. They beat us 65-59.

There were two divisions, so we got an extra game. We played Plano and beat them 65-47. Something odd happened in that game. We got ahead toward the end of the game and low and behold Gano put me and Dick Bailey in with about a minute left in the game. We were both scared to death. We passed the ball back and forth.

We have enjoyed reading your history. Bob & Linda Odell


My Personal Opinion of Coach Gano Tubb
By Carl Phelan

My personal thoughts on Coach Tubb was that he always seemed to be larger than life. He always had a calm and determined demeanor about him. He never yelled, cussed or mistreated any of his players. He would usually tell each player face to face about what he wanted them to do or to correct any mistake that they were making. The method he used was an inspiration to hie players and he was able to get more out of them as the season progressed. His coaching tactics were the main reason he had such a successful and rewarding coaching career. He went down in the history of coaching as one of the best in the business. I think it is a travesty that not a single person took the time to write a book bout all of his exploits. I may try to do that myself. Time will tell, wish me luck.

An Extra Special Tribute To Coach Gano Tubb
Levelland High School Lobos 1941 to 1973

The following photos and articles were sent to me compliments of Joe C.
Tubb, the son of Gano & Goldie Tubb
 


Photo and Biography
1912 to 1976
Elected To Texas High School Coaches
Hall of Honor in 1979


Carl Phelan Final Statement About the LHS 1951-52 BB Season

This is the end of my Tribute to The Levelland, Texas, High School Basketball Season. I would like to thank all the people have helped me by sending in stories and quotes that are used in this Tribute. I hope that the memory and legacy of this basketball team will linger in the hearts and minds of all the people that lived in The Fabulous Fifties and perhaps they will pass this event on to their relatives and descendants and have pleasant memories that will last forever.
 

Compiled & written by Carl Phelan - LHS, 1948

HOME

dun by dock