Next week the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum will honor the Lanier High School team of 1964-65 that won 43 games, lost none and averaged 100 points per game. They were national champions.
But, today, we’ll go back 21 years earlier and visit the other end of the spectrum.
This was early December, 1944. This was at Forest High School, where football was king and basketball was an afterthought. This was the first game of the season and the opponent was Ringold, a Scott County school out from Forest, where basketball was the sport of choice year round. Ringold did not have a football team. But those Ringold boys, who learned the game on dirt courts, could ever more play basketball.
Hank Mosley, now of Starkville, was the point guard for Forest and coach M.B. Garrett, who also coached the football team, the boys and girls basketball teams and taught chemistry.
“Most of our good basketball players were football players and Coach Garrett was giving them a week or so off before they started playing basketball,” Mosley says.
“Ringold was really, really good,” Mosley says. “They were talented, tough and knew what they were doing. They had one player, Curtis May, who was truly outstanding. He could shoot the daylights out of a basketball.”
Final score: Ringold 35, Forest 0.
That’s zero, as in nada, nothing, not one, null set. In that game 69 years ago, the Forest players scored as many points as you and me, and I wasn’t even alive.
A basketball shutout. Ever heard of such?
I hadn’t until Jimmy Lackey, the other starting guard on the Forest team, told me about it at a Forest Rotary Club meeting Wednesday. Lackey heard me talking about the Lanier team; he wanted to tell me about his team and that memorable night.
“You know how you can always count on your daddy to lift your spirits after something bad happens,” Lackey said. “Hank and I went up to my daddy in the stands after the game. He didn’t even look at us. He just stared down at the floor, shaking his head. I don’t guess there was much he could say.”
And listen to Mosley talk about how injury was added to insult.
“Curtis May ran into me so hard, he broke my nose,” Mosley says, chuckling. “I wanted to come out of the game, but Coach Garrett wouldn’t take me out. I played the whole game with a broken, swollen, bleeding nose.”
Lackey took chemistry from Garrett that year.
“Let’s just say he didn’t prepare me to be a doctor,” Lackey says. “During chemistry class, he sent all the basketball players down to the gym to practice free throws.”
Quite obviously, that didn’t work either, although Forest did manage to win a game or two after the football players came back.
Both Mosley and Lackey say the game left no lasting scars.
Says Mosley, “I can’t tell you how many times over the years, it’s given me a lot of really good laughs.”