A lot happened in Eatonville in 1923. Nine loggers died and two were injured, a number of homes were raided in April searching for moonshine and Malcolm’s Meat Market completed a $10,000 addition to its meat packing plant (about a $127,000 investment today). But all this paled next to the EHS basketball team’s journey to the national tournament.
In 1923 Eatonville was considered to have the best basketball team in the state. The winner at state would be invited to Chicago to play in the national tournament and the town rooted their players on all season.
It came down to Walla Walla and Eatonville at state. At the end of the game, the score was tied and the teams went into overtime. At the end of the second overtime Eatonville lead by one point. Then the unthinkable happened — an Eatonville player fouled a Walla Walla player with no time left. The officials, however, said the foul occurred before the time had run out.
The crowd, as you can imagine, went nuts. But once everyone settled down, the Walla Walla player sank his two foul shots and Walla Walla won by one point; 20 to 19. The Eatonville team and fans went home defeated — there would be no trip to Chicago.
To everyone’s surprise, a few days later the University of Chicago invited two teams from Washington — Walla Walla and Eatonville (based on its remarkable record that year). Eatonville, big on team spirit, got busy raising money to send its boys back east.
• The Eatonville businessmen and people in the community raised $1,800.
• T. S. Galbraith, who owned the mill, donated $200.
• Business owner N. C. Christensen donated $100.
• The Puyallup Elks donated $50.
• The Eatonville Masons donated $50.
• The kindergarten class chipped in .38, and
• A small boy donated the pennies he’d been saving for a baseball glove.
When it was all said and done, the town had raised about $2,200 — approximately $28,866 today.
In Chicago, Eatonville lost to the Fitchberg Mass., team in the first round, 27 to 22. Considering Eatonville was the smallest town in the U.S. to be invited and Fitchberg was one of the largest, it was a good showing and the 1923 team would be long remembered.
Eatonville’s team spirit would also be legendary. Later that year, Olaf Malcom (Keith Malcom’s father) took a business trip to Portland. When people learned he was from Eatonville they knew all about “the place where the folks are on their toes and had real boosters.”
1923 Winning Basketball team
Coach Davis, Dolphie Hekel, Arthur Duke, Donovan Matheny, Irving Elmlund, Lloyd James, Dan Christensen, Ray Williams and Clarence Halverson, Richard King, Arthur Swanson
Photo courtesy of Rich Williams
Click on image to enlarge.