Guest blogger today is Rich Williams describing the winning 1923 EHS Basketball game.
In 1923 Eatonville was considered the best team in the State. They only lost one game during the season and that was to The University of Washington freshman team.
Game Goes into Overtime
At the State tournament Eatonville faced Walla Walla in the semi-finals. At the end of regulation the score was tied.
In the first overtime, Eatonville was leading until Walla Walla sunk a shot with seconds to go to tie the game again.
In the second overtime, Eatonville was leading by one point with only seconds to play. An Eatonville player fouled one of the Walla Walla players with no time left, but the officials said the foul occurred before the time ran out.
The crowd went nuts. Everyone thought Eatonville had won. Once everyone settled down, the Walla Walla player sank two foul shots and Walla Walla won by one point; 20 to 19.
After the tournament, Hekel, Elmlund and Matheny were awarded first string all-state honors.
Season wasn’t over
The winner of the 1923 State Tournament was to be invited to the Chicago National Basketball Tournament. Since it was Walla Walla that would go, Eatonville thought their season was over. However, a few days later, Eatonville was notified that the University of Chicago was inviting two teams from Washington State; Walla Walla and Eatonville.
Eatonville was the smallest town in the U.S. to be invited to the Chicago Tournament. They were matched against one of the biggest schools — Fitchberg, Massachusetts in the first round. Eatonville played a very sound game but went cold in the last quarter. Fitchberg won the game 27 to 22.
Many years later, Dave Predmore (EHS Class of 1962) talked to Ick Elmlund about this game. Ick told Dave the gym back in Chicago had glass backboards (very unusual at that time) and the team had a hard time adjusting to them. It wasn’t an excuse for losing but anyone who has played basketball knows that the ball reacts differently with glass boards. Especially when most players back then used a bank shot.
Photos courtesy of Rich Williams.
Click on images to enlarge.