TERRE HAUTE — An obligation at work kept me from being at the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic luncheon and tournament drawing at Terre Haute South a few weeks ago, but I don’t intend to let much get in my way when it comes to showing up for the lion’s share of the 28 games in the Classic, which, by the way, gets started today.
I know, you probably think it was the free pizza that I missed most from not showing up, but it wasn’t; it was the people I’ve come to know through the Classic that I most enjoy. Okay, sausage and mushroom pizza ranks right up there too.
Had I been able to go, I would have seen my old buddy, Dean Kendall, the man who researched and compiled a massive history of the old Wabash Valley Tourney. He sells copies of the book every year at the Classic at a courtside table, but more than book sales, which he dearly loves, I think Dean mostly likes the games and the gab. If you want to talk about basketball, Dean’s your man.
I would have touched bases with Gary Fears too. Gary, the President of Terre Haute Pizza Hut, was really the driving force in seeing that the Classic became a reality, something for which we all should be grateful. Gary has said that the Classic’s concept “helps create the best boys’ holiday basketball tournament in the state.” I wouldn’t argue with that at all.
And, among blabbing with a few coaches and friends, I most certainly would have introduced myself to local hoops legend Clyde Lovellette, who twice won the old Wabash Valley Tourney in 1947 and 1948, then went on to win a national championship with the University of Kansas in 1952, the same year in which he won Olympic gold in Helsinki.
I remember seeing Lovellette a few times when I was a kid, and he was Vigo County Sheriff. It wouldn’t have mattered had I been full grown, I would have still been impressed by his size. I remember being eyeball to pistol grip with his service revolver as I stood next to him in West’s Drugstore in 12 Points, so I couldn’t imagine what it was like playing against the guy in the post.
I’ve been digging through Dean’s book to find a few things out about Lovellette, so the big guy will be the basis for most of this year’s questions on my annual quiz about the PHWVC and the old Valley. Now, if you have never taken this thing, be prepared, because it isn’t for the faint of heart. In some ways, taking this quiz is a lot like winning the tournament; it takes endurance…
Classic Clyde Quiz
1. Okay, I’ll start out with an easy one, that is, if you’re a little older than I am. Miss this one, and you really should hit the showers early. You already know that Clyde Lovellette was a two-time Wabash Valley Tourney winner as a starter. For what school did he play? (a. Wiley (b. Gerstmeyer (c. Garfield (d. Honey Creek.
2. This one is tougher: What a lot of local folks forget is that in addition to Lovellette, Clyde’s team also boasted two other all-Valley players in 1947 (yet another made the second team). One was the great Ron Bland; the other went on to coaching glory himself. Who was it?
3. Tougher yet: Lovellette’s squad beat Spencer in the ’47 title game, but beat a team in the ’48 championship that returned to the final game in ’49, only to lose to the Monroe City Blue Jeans. It was (a. Brazil (b. Attica (c. Wiley (d. Linton.
4. Need a breather? Okay: You already know that Lovellette played at Kansas and won the NCAA title in ’52. Lovellette also led the nation that in year in what key individual statistic? (a. rebounding (b. blocked shots (c. scoring average (d. field goal percentage.
5. Back to the Classic: Lovellette’s scoring total in the championship game of the 1947 Valley is the same amount as the single-game scoring record in the Pizza Hut Classic set in 2003. Who set that record? (a. South’s Armon Basset (b. Sullivan’s Jeffery Moore (c. South Vermillion’s Lauren Russell (d. Northview’s Zach Keyes.
6. Another Clyde-to-Classic connection: Lovellette had the fourth highest scoring total in four Wabash Valley games in the tournament’s history. Who has set the four-game record in the Pizza Hut Classic, and how many points did he score? (a. Northview’s Zach Keyes, 106 (b. South Vermillion’s Dana Scifres, 110 (c. Marshall’s Jake Kelly, 100 (d. Northview’s Logan Whitman, 97.
7. Anyone who knows me, knows I like old-time nicknames for players. Lovellette earned a number of nicknames by the time he retired from the NBA. One of them was (a. Clyde the Glide (b. Colossal Clyde (c. Cloudburst Clyde (d. The King of Clyde.
8. Okay, here’s a question about the PHWVC only. Who is the all-time top scorer in the history of the tournament, now that it has a history? (a. Sullivan’s Jeffery Moore (b. North’s Nate Blank (c. Bethesda Christian’s Justin Cook (d. Monrovia’s Adam Gore.
9. Another one on the PHWVC: Most of us know who the past tournament champions are, but what school can boast at being the only team to twice win the tourney’s consolation round? (a. Marshall (b. Turkey Run (c. Owen Valley (d. Sullivan.
10. A final Clyde toughie. What few people recall is that Lovellette actually played on a third Valley championship team as a freshman in 1945. How many points did Lovellette total in the final four games that year? (a. 6 (b. 16 (c. 36 (d. 66.
Now the answers:
1. C. Garfield’s Purple Eagles dominated the tournament in the mid-40’s, and many people credit Coach Willard Kehrt’s patience with developing Lovellette, and a number of other very talented players, as the keys.
2. Gordon Neff.
3. B. The Red Ramblers lost to Garfield 55-49 and Monroe City 52-43.
4. C. The big man averaged 28.4 points per game that year.
5. C. Twenty-four of Lauren Russell’s 35 points came mostly from behind the three-point line in 2003.
6. A. Keyes’ total is tops for the PHWVC. Ellettsville’s Vernon Pfaff scored 108 in four games in 1962 in the old Valley Tournament.
7. C. Cloudburst Clyde; I made up the other names.
8. D. Gore could score.
9. A. The Lions may take home some hardware again this year.
10. A. As a skinny freshman, Lovellette only managed three field goals in four games. That statistic alone shows us that Lovellette’s magnificent career was as much a product of his hard work and determination as it was his size.
Someone in this year’s Pizza Hut Classic may be a budding Clyde Lovellette; only time will tell. One thing is certain: For as long as there are folks around who can remember the old Wabash Valley Tournament, there will be stories told about “Man Mountain.”
I’ll be happy to hear a few of them. Have a nice Christmas; see you at the Classic.
You can contact Mike Lunsford via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through regular mail c/o the Tribune-Star, PO Box 149, Terre Haute, IN 47808.