Buster Hale column on 1953 State Champs

By Buster Hale

Sports Editor – Longview News and Journal

Sidelights on the state basketball tournament…The three day circus was quite an affair that set all kinds of records, including new attendance marks galore…Nearly 8,000 fans, the largest crowd ever to see a Saturday afternoon game in the tournament’s 33 year history, watched White Oak smash the red-shirted Denver City Mustangs for the Class A championship, 69-53…Fans and writers who attended the tournament were amazed at the tremendous spirit of the Roughnecks and the fans who followed them to Austin…One of the White Oak yell leaders fainted during the championship game, but five minutes later she was back on her feet helping to lead the cheering for the Roughnecks… Writers devoted almost as much space to the White Oak cheering section as they did to the team…All of them admitted they had never seen anything like it in any state tournament…White Oak had the smallest team in the tournament and Denver City one of the biggest, but the Roughnecks swarmed all over the bulky Mustangs like a bunch of angry hornets…White Oak’s blazing hustle had even the writers pulling for them…All during the championship game there were shouts of “Come on, little team” from the press section…One sports writer commented, “If there is any such thing as a darling basketball team, then White Oak is certainly one”…”Yeah, that’s right”, remarked another writer, “did you see how quick those little White Oak kids were to pick up that big boy from Denver City after they knocked him out from under the basket and blasted him up into the fifth row of the bleachers when he tried a crip shot?”…Before the games started we told Bill Thompson, sports editor of the Paris News, we were afraid Denver City could rough White Oak out of the game…But the Roughnecks dished out as much as they received and ran the big Mustangs ragged…After the first eight or ten minutes of play Thompson leaned over to us and observed, “Denver City isn’t going to rough White Oak out of this game – they can’t even catch’em.”

Buster Hale followed White Oak through their run to the 1953 state championship.