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First game inside Ray Shoun Gymnasium was a classic

By: Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
[email protected]

The Pillsbury Doughboy made his appearance and Days of our Lives was broadcast on NBC television for the first time ever. The time was November 1965.
It was also the month and year of Pete Shoun’s debut as head basketball coach at Johnson County High School and the first game every played inside the new school’s gymnasium.
Everyone was excited about moving into the new school but it didn’t happen easily. The first official day of school that year was pushed up almost two weeks. And the football team’s home opener had to be moved back down to the old school because the field wasn’t ready by the first game.
Yet they had already hosted a wrestling event featuring Las Vegas showgirl Sherry Lee and Neva’s Big Glen Church in it. Arthur Smith and the Cracker Jacks along with the Crossroads Quartet had sung there too.
The same thing almost cost basketball its first game. Coach Shoun remembered it well.
They hadn’t had time to cut the big pipes off behind the goals so they hung down about two or three feet,” said Shoun. “We had to take foam rubber and cover them up before they would let us play.”
Shoun recalled some details about the game and remembered the crowd as well.
“University High didn’t bring many fans but our side was full,” said Shoun. “And we had people sitting on the other side too.”
It was a back and forth game the whole way.
UH was down 46-38 late but rallied to tie the game at 50-50 and sent it into overtime.
A free throw by Junior McQueen and Larry Nave’s basket allowed Johnson County to force a second overtime. That’s when the ‘Horns found its unsung hero.
Luther Reece hadn’t played much and wasn’t expected to score. But he came in off the bench and tallied five points in the second overtime period including the game winner with .06 second remaining off a steal. Johnson County won 59-58.
“We wouldn’t have expected him to score a lot, but he played great that night,” said Shoun about Reece. “He did a great job in that game but we didn’t have a really good year.”
All that changed the following season. Shoun’s Longhorns defeated Newland High School with 7’2 center Tom Burleson. It was his biggest win as a head coach.
“We weren’t supposed to beat them,” said Shoun. “I played Larry Nave who was 6’5 in front of Burleson and big John Payne (6’2, 220) behind him. He didn’t weight but about 190 pounds. I think they about physically beat him to death the whole game. He got his points but I’m not sure they called all the fouls either. Mark Bellamy and Dale Phillips played on that team. All of them played good that night.”
Burleson went on to star at North Carolina State and led them to a National Championship in 1974. He played several seasons in the NBA before his knees forced him to retire.

To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week's paper.