Issue 7-6-14 Website - page 4

Previously published and reprinted
with permission,
News& Sun
, GreenValleyAZ
InMarch, Dick Scott received
a package and a letter in themail
a few days apart that took him
back 50 years and brought tears
to his eyes.
Next month, he’ll continue
dusting off those memories sit-
ting next to childhood buddies
— and they’ll be cheered on by
an entire town.
Scott, 68, was among a dozen
teenage boys who captivated
the small community of LeRoy,
during a basketball season that
It was fall 1962, and theOatka
Knights were coming off a so-so
seasonayearearlier.But thisyear
would be different.
Scott, in his junior year, was
a 5-foot-10 starting guard along
with four seniors and they were
hot from theveryfirst tipoff. “We
cameout likeahouseafire,”Scott
recalls. “It was something.”
They blew out their first op-
ponent, 92-47, and the handful
of games that followed weren’t
into the season the Town started
takingnotice. Sodid thenewspa-
pers.Headlinesgotbigger, stories
got longer. The Knights were
When the teamhit 10-0, a
avia Daily News
headline read,
“LeRoy Bitten by Basketball
Bug,” and told how one down-
town store sold 373 tickets to an
away game in just 10minutes.
The paper said the town was
“infected with enthusiasm” that
exploded when the Knights
knocked off undefeatedPittsford,
the team that took themout of the
sectional tournament a year earli-
er - the team thatwas supposed to
win it all thisyear.All the sweeter
was that it was the first time in
three years Pittsford had lost on
17-year-old Scott “a capable de-
fender and an accurate shot.”
Soon, three newspapers were
battling for any shred of news
about the team.
Meanwhile, the Knights rolled
through the Christmas tourney
undefeated, drawing bigger and
louder crowds with each win as
they headed into 1963, and the
second half of the season. The
tiny school alsowasgetting radio
coverage, even a bit ofTV.
“There was pressure, no ques-
tion,” saidScott,whohas lived in
GreenValleymost of the last 10
years. “Allwewere thinkingwas
we really have todowell.”
They did, again and again.
The Town, famous for being
the birthplace of Jell-O - and that
AmeliaEarhart once landed at the
local airstrip - had even more to
cheer about. They were winners,
and everybody in Upstate New
York knew it. “This small hick
townwason themap,”Scott says.
“Youcouldn’tget into thegames.”
Without a league
The teamwasananomalyeven
before the season started. They
wereknownas “the teamwithout
a league,” and had played a year
earlier as “independents.” This
year, they played “on a token
basis,” according to one newspa-
per, in theMonroe County Class
A League against mostly bigger
schools. No leaguewould accept
the rural school, mostly because
of travel distances.
Noneof thatmatterednow.The
They found themselves -wearing
their trademark red blazers -
marching into thegyms “of some
of themostgorgeoushighschools
you’ve seen in your life,” Scott
says, on courts that were equally
But they weren’t intimidated.
Opponents big and small fell as
the Knights racked up 15, 18,
21wins - including another over
Pittsford -with just the Section 5
championship game standing be-
tween them and a perfect season.
The biggame
up of LeRoy andWaterloo, two
teams that hadn’t met all season.
than5,700people -a fewhundred
more than the entire population
of LeRoy.
advantage, but they had to fight
for every point against LeRoy,
according to thepapers.Scott said
the teamwent into thefinals con-
fident becauseWaterloowasn’t a
big school, though they’d racked
up plentyofwins.
By the fourth quarter, LeRoy
was down, 36-42, and struggling.
Then camewhat one sportswriter
called “oneof thegreat clutch ef-
forts” in tournament history,with
11points in just overfiveminutes
to get the lead back.
The game seesawed, but with
6-foot-5 Rod Gillmor out on
fouls, LeRoy couldn’t control the
boards. With 57 seconds to go,
theywere down, 54-51.With the
crowdon their feet, the
recounted the final
points: “Two more free-throws
by Bob Baldwin, and (Dave)
Millman’s last-second layup,
hammered home the final spikes
in theLeRoy coffin.”
“It was bad,” Scott says. “We
were crying.We felt likewe’d let
everybody down, like we’d let
ourselves down.”
Letters in the local paper
thanked Coach George Rudman
and the team for agreat run.Rud-
manwrotehisown letter, thanking
the town for“the lessons in loyalty
and hometownpride.”
Scott says nobody talkedmuch
about thegameoreven theseason
after that.Heplayedbasketballhis
senioryear,but the teamdidn’tdo
nearly aswell.
Themagicwasgone forLeRoy
In themail
A few weeks ago, Dick Scott
wentout to themailboxand found
apackage - agift fromheaven, he
calls it. It was a scrapbook from
that incredible 1962-63 season
overflowing with newspaper
clippings, aSection5Tournament
program and some black-and-
whitesnapshots. Ithadbeencare-
fullyput together by the father of
passed along to Scott by Mike’s
younger brother. He’d found it
packed away in a barn with his
late parents’belongings.
“Enjoy,”hewrote.“It’syours to
keep.Hope fondmemories return
as you reminisce.” Scott was in
tears as he flipped through each
page, holding on tomemories he
thought were long gone.
But thatwasn’t the last surprise.
A few days later, a letter came in
the mail to “Mr. Richard Scott.”
It was from the LeRoy Oatka
Knights Sports Hall of Fame.
“After extensive deliberation,” it
read, “the Board has determined
to extend an invitation to you
for induction as amember of the
great 1962-63 basketball team.
Weknow that this team represents
the best that LeRoyHigh School
basketball has produced. We are
proud toconfer thishonor onyou
as amember of that team.”
“I didn’t knowwhat to think,”
Scott says. “It’s just incredible.”
On July 18, Dick Scott and his
teammates will be the guests of
honor at a ceremony at LeRoy
HighSchool.He isoverwhelmed.
“The community became part of
everything that teamdid,”hesays.
“It was LeRoy, NY, and boy, we
opened a lot of eyes.”
OneForTheBooks: IncredibleSeasonTakingGreenValley,
ArizonaManToLeRoyHall of Fame
1,2,3 5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,...20
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