Another excerpt from this 1925-27 section tells about a middle school tournament and the Clarks Hill gymnasium of that time.
A basketball tournament at the Crawfordsville YMCA took place that year. One of the requirements was that the boy must weigh less than 120 pounds, and Floyd qualified. Linden played the Crawfordsville Midgets who were very good. Linden was eliminated after the first game – 72-6. In the newspaper write-up the following Monday the only mention of Linden was “Miller was the outstanding player with two field goals.”
Clarks Hill gym was in a Quonset type building. There were bleachers on one side with 7 foot enclosures on both ends. The dressing area had a pot belly stove, but no toilet or shower. The team went outside (to use the restroom).
In the 1926-27 school year, Floyd was now a freshman and went out for the Linden High School 9th grade team: In early October Floyd tried out for freshman basketball. The freshman coach, a graduate of PU (Purdue University), was an All-American athlete named Harold Humason . . . a wonderful person. In November, Floyd was selected as one of the 20 fellows on the squad. The freshman practiced three times a week and occasionally scrimmaged with the varsity. The games were played in the old armory that could only seat 1500 to 2000 people.
Floyd continued about his freshman season later in his writings. He mentions that his coach was “Russ”. Through research for this article, it was discovered that the coach was Russ Hensley. Little did Floyd know that Russ would eventually marry his older sister, Mable, making them brothers-in-law.
Floyd was quite a basketball player. His freshman year (1926-27) at Linden he was on a team of eight as the substitute center. Russ was the coach. During the sophomore year, they practiced regularly at Romney since Linden had no gym. Romney had a small gym with bleachers on both ends, which held 25, and chairs around the sides of the court seating a total of 100-150. A peculiar thing about this gym was the baskets had a trigger that was tripped when the ball went through the hoop. This caused a red light to light up on top of the goal.
The final section on the subject of Linden High Basketball was of Floyd’s junior and senior years: The junior year was Floyd’s best year of high school basketball. Several friends on the team included Jim and Max as forwards. Chase came in that year and lived at his brother’s house. He was a good player but had trouble with his lessons and didn’t finish the season. The coach called a meeting to elect a captain. Floyd was the logical person but for some reason he received only one vote – Chase! Floyd didn’t hold it against his teammates, but talked to Russ later. “I was the logical person,” and Russ replied, “Don’t let it bother you – a lot of times people cut another person down to get them to their size…forget it and play ball.” Floyd took Russ’s advice and played well all year. One game with New Market was close. Near the end Linden was behind when Floyd jumped center and tipped it to himself. He took a long shot and made it sending the game into overtime. New Market won anyway, but Floyd scored 26 points. The following night he scored 29 points and these two games were the highlight of his career.
Linden also played at New Market in an invitational tourney. In the game with New Market Jim and Floyd were struggling for control under New Market’s basket. Someone tipped the ball into the basket and New Market won by two points. Floyd tipped it in, but neither Floyd nor Jim ever said who did it. Years later, they laughed about who really won the game for New Market. In the locker room that night Russ asked who had tipped the ball in and nobody answered. Floyd and Jim knew for sure but they never talked about it.
In spite of New Market beating Linden during the season, Linden won the sectional tourney game against New Market. Floyd also got well acquainted with Darlington’s center whose name was Fritz. His dad was the coach. Fritz had unusually long feet – size 13.
More on the Floyd Miller era next week!