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The crowd that gathered for the Halstead and Topeka championship game was likely not that familiar with the game. Football was the most important sport played between high schools in the state of Kansas. Track & Field events were very popular in the spring as was baseball. Dr. Naismith's game had caught on with many of the students as a game to play in between the strictly outside activities. There existed enough interest that Kansas University added the sport to the annual high school track & field competition they sponsored as part of "high school week." 1
This early version of the game required five players on each side. There was a center jump after every made field goal and no ten second half-court line. The ball could be up to two inches larger in circumference than what is used today and was much more difficult to handle because of the exposed lacing of the leather covering the hard rubber bladder. The peach basket first used by Naismith had been replaced by an iron rim with a net that held the ball until the referee retrieved it for the center jump. 2 Backboards were becoming standard but many did not extend out from the wall where they were attached. 3
Players were prohibited from throwing for goals if they dribbled the ball during a possession. Substitutions were allowed but the player would not be allowed to re-enter the game. 4
Most teams kept one or two players near the center jump or back court area to protect their goal while the remaining three or four players played offense. 5
Kansas University was eager to show off the newly constructed Robinson Gym built to accommodate the new sport. The $100,000 facility was described by The Kansan as "the finest gymnasium in the Missouri Valley." Spectators were expected to watch the game from the balcony surrounding the court while players and school officials were seated on the gym floor. 6 The Lawrence Daily Journal praised athletics manager W.C. Lansdon for the new attraction and the 5th annual track meet that was drawing students to the school. "Manager Lansdon is making his department the best boomer the University has ever had. The State University is recruited from the high schools and Mr. Lansdon is getting the students here. He is inspiring interest in athletics and he is advertising the University as it has never been advertised before." 7
Reports of the games at Robinson Gym were short on details. The final drew a good crowd and an exciting finish. Halstead silenced those who had chortled over the "grass courts" that some had assumed Halstead used for practice. 8 Few high school players of any of the teams had competed on a quality court like Robinson Gym. Regular season games were played at roller skating rinks, assembly halls and other venues that were not designed for the game. 9 Reno County played their games in the assembly space of City Hall. 10
Arnold Todd's last minute field goal won the championship for Halstead in the 30-29 win over Topeka High.
--------------------------------------------------------------------- In 1909 Kansas University officials moved the basketball tournament event to March so it would coincide with the conference of accredited High Schools. Teachers were given a holiday to attend this meeting and that meant that the students were given time off as well. 1 The University also decided to invite girl teams to participate in a separate basketball tourney conducted in the women's portion of Robinson Gym. The Beloit girls won the trophy over a small group of entries. * 2
The Halstead team returned as the favorite in the boy's tourney. They appeared to be on the way to winning the tournament in the final against Eudora. As they rested at half-time with a lead, information reached the tournament director that Eudora was using at least two ineligible players. The players were registered under their correct names, but it was confirmed that they were actually attending Central Business College in Kansas City. Eudora refused to take the court without these players and the championship was awarded to Halstead. 3
Chanute was awarded the 2nd place trophy as it was decided that Eudora should also forfeit their semi-final win over the Blue Comets. An attempt was made to allow Chanute to play Halstead in a championship game, but it was discovered that the team had already caught the train back to Chanute. 4
Tournament officials were pleased with the growth of the tournament and could see the value in recruiting athletes for the increasingly important basketball program. Despite the embarrassment over the ineligible players, the use of supplemental players was common during the first years of high school inter-scholastic sports. 6 The penalty imposed on Eudora put others on notice that this practice would not be tolerated in tournament play.
------------------------------------------------------------------------- The crowning of Clay County as the 1910 champion generated great pride in the population of Clay Center. The Clay Center Dispatch made the story of the championship front-page news and happily declared the local boys champions of not only the State of Kansas, but also the entire Missouri Valley by virtue of defeating Topeka High. The logic worked for the locals as they learned that Topeka had defeated Westport of Kansas City, MO and wasn't it true that Westport had beat St. Joseph's, MO ? It was true and St. Joseph's completed that line of thinking by their earlier victory over Omaha, NE. 1 The display of civic pride in the success of the local high school basketball team was established in these early basketball tournaments. The inter-scholastic competition increased the popularity of the game and encouraged schools to send teams to the open competition in Lawrence.
Ralph O'Neill was given credit for teaching the Clay Center boys their trick plays and guiding their conditioning during the season. Pie and rich foods, tea and coffee were forbidden during training. The practices conducted by O'Neill elevated the physical condition of the Clay Center players over the 24 other teams entered in the tournament. 2
Team Captain Ernest Mendell was in charge out on the court as the rules of the day demanded. Communication to players on the court from the bench or others associated with the team was prohibited. It was left to the Captain to call out plays and address the referee as the rules allowed. He also was in charge of turning in the line-up and appointing the person who would shoot free throws for the team. Mendell was representative of the idea that many of the early teams were coached in the modern sense by the team Captain. 3
Other starters for the Clay County champs were Cyril Smee, Ned Engler, Albert Affolter and John McClenahan. 4 Substitutes rarely contributed much to these teams except in case of an injury to a starter. But subs Ward Marshall, Floyd Leveque and Ward Miles saved the tournament in the 2nd round contest against Fort Scott. Several regulars received short notice about the start of that game and the subs started and played until the regular starters could get to the court.
---------------------------------------------------------------------- ALL Tournament Team Team selected by Coach Hamilton (KU) & Dr. James Naismith Referees: Dick Waring & Phog Allen Umpires: Tommy Johnson & Vern Long
First Team Second Team
Harlan Russell LAWRENCE Frank Robinson WINFIELD
Blevens ARKANSAS CITY Walter Todd HALSTEAD
Ralph Sproull LAWRENCE Williams FLORENCE
Harold Woodford TOPEKA John McClenahan CLAY COUNTY
Oley Apt BUFFALO Jack Brown LAWRENCE All Tournament Team Source: University Daily Kansan
By 1911, the Kansas University tournament had grown in the number of teams that Robinson Gym was divided cross-wise so that two games could be played at the same time. The games prior to the finals would all be played on these smaller courts with two fifteen minute periods. The smaller courts were actually closer to the space used by teams during the regular season. The finals were played with the then standard two twenty minute periods on the full court. 1
Delirious howling fans that traveled to Lawrence by train filled the Robinson Gym balconies to watch their respective teams. The enthusiasm of the players and fans began at the Lawrence rail stations. The Lawrence Journal reported, "The trains from the west some times unloaded two or three groups whose different-hued ribbons identified them as members of rival clans and always when this occurred, there resulted a challenging exchange of yell and sometimes a hostile demonstration." 2
Lawrence students had shown little interest in basketball during the regular season. Captain Hoskins was largely responsible for organizing a team after a three year absence of play. Professor Ross was described as a Manager of the team rather than a Coach. Only three players on the squad had ever engaged in inter-scholastic basketball and it took nearly a full season to arouse student body interest. The trophy won by the "Red and Black" at the Baldwin tournament (Baker University) finally got the locals solidly behind the team. 3
"Swede" Kennedy , Lawrence's "spectacular goal-tosser", was injured early in the team's win over Dickinson County. The Lawrence boys learned to get the ball to other capable scorers to get past the defending champion Clay County squad. 4
The upstart little village school Buffalo, upset winner over two time champion Halstead, stood in the way of a Lawrence spot in the final. Buffalo took a 18-15 lead into half-time by a solid defense on Harlan Russell and center "Lefty" Sproull. The school newspaper reported that at half-time "someone ran down to the office and found out where Buffalo was ... on the map." The boys were also reported to have received advice from old Lawrence athletic stars during the intermission on how to find Sproull open for goals. Could one of those stars have been the Kansas legendary All-American Tommy Johnson ? It was known that he was serving as one of the umpires for the tournament and that he was convalescing in the area from an illness that would eventually claim his life later in the year. Whoever "coached" the Lawrence boys, they came out with a plan that left Sproull open for several shots and they squeaked by Buffalo 35-32. 5
Lawrence defeated their old football rival Topeka in the championship game. Ray Dunmire joined his future Kansas University teammate "Lefty" Sproull as the stars who led the team to an easy 41-21 victory. 6
RULE CHANGES 1911: 1) Player is disqualified upon committing a 4th personal foul . Previous disqualification came after a player was assessed with five fouls. The rule change narrowed the definition of a personal foul. Previously fouls were assessed to players for violations like kicking the ball, traveling, etc. Personal fouls would be defined as only those violations that involved contact with an opponent. A non-contact foul could still result in a "free trial for goal", but was not charged to the player as a personal foul. 2) Clarification that no coaching was allowed during the progress of the game by anybody connected with either team. After one warning, a free throw was awarded for each violation.