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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Musselman is an unofficial historian for 90-point game

Posted Wednesday, December 19, 2012, at 4:44 PM

Although Amos Musselman wasn't born on Jan. 26, 1917, he might as well have been.

Amos grew up in Newberry listening to the stories of his father, Omar Musselman.

And what a tale Omar had to pass on. He was witness to one of the greatest scoring games in the history of Indiana High School boys basketball.

On that night some 95 years ago, Snowden Clements Hert scored 90 points as Newberry High School defeated Worthington 140-2.

Hert, a forward who was upwards of 6-0, made 45 baskets in a new gymnasium, a luxury not afforded all schools at the time as many teams still played outdoors.

Along with Musselman and Hert, NHS also had Eph Inman, Cromwell Deck, Orville (O.D., Dutch ) Neff, Eark Skomp and Jack Inman on its seven-man roster.

They were coached by L.V. Phillips, who went on to become commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic Association. Charley Crook served as an assistant coach.

"I remember Snowden, O.D, and dad getting together and talking when I was a lot younger,"  said Amos, who attended Newberry through the eighth grade before graduating from Lyons High School in 1951. "That night was something they had in common all of their lives."

As the years went by and the players and coaches from that night passed away and Newberry closed after 1947 and consolidated into Lyons, Amos became the unofficial historian of the game. He has pictures of various Newberry teams and clippings about Hert's

accomplishments.

"That's just something that happened", said Musselman. "After dad died, I just ended up with all the stuff about the game and the team." 

Neff, who jumped center for Newberry at a time where there was a center jump after every made basket, was a local automobile dealer in Daviess County.

In the Feb. 10, 1948 edition of The Washington Herald, Neff's account of the game appeared in a column called Bleacher Breezes (author unknown).

"You may not believe it, but my fingers were swollen terribly after that game,"  Neff told The Herald. "I would flatten out my fingers and tip that ball off to the sides on every center jump.

"Snowball Hert would cut over on a tipoff play and go down and score, first one side then the other."

He said that securing the tip was a lot harder than it might have looked.

"I was punching that ball so hard that once I pushed into right into the basket," said Neff. "I didn't intend to, but it went in anyway." 

Near the end of the game after a Worthington player finally scored, Neff was upset at losing a rare shutout in basketball.

"I was so disgusted that I went over to my teammate, who was supposed to have been guarding and kicked him in the seat of the pants," he said. "I wanted the shutout." 

In a June 1968 edition of the Bloomington Tribune, sports writer Rex Kirts interviewed Hert, who at the time was living in Clinton, where he lived the rest of his life.

"In my opinion, Worthington was just scared of us and didn't even try to guard us," Hert said back then. "That was the first year they had a team." 

In this version of the story, Worthington's points came as a result of two free throws, one in each half.

"I was stationed under the basket -- that's why I was called the stationary forward.

"I was generally the high scorer, mostly because

of my position. We were pretty good players, too." 

Hert, who dropped out of school after that season, said he enjoyed playing for Phillips, who Musselman said was once a school administrator at Vincennes.

"He was a wonderful man," said Hert. "He was fresh out of college a year or two."

Hert said the game was different back then as the four quarters were 12 minutes in length, compared to the eight minutes today, but the clock never stopped.

There was no out of bounds because the walls of the Newberry Gym were the edge of the playing court, according to Hert.

Fouls were rarely called during the early days of prep hoops in Indiana, as evidenced by the 45 field goals and no free throws by Hert.

"We played Bloomfield in their first game ever," he said. "That was about 1916 and it was the roughest game of my life. They used all football players in that one."

In 1967 on the 50th anniversary of Hert's feat, Indianapolis News writer Corky Lamm interviewed the then 66-year old, who spent the last days of his life in Clinton.

"They kept me near the basket," said Hert. "I was about 5-10 (listed at 6-0 by some accounts, which was a very tall man in 1917) and weighed 1500-155 at that time.

"I was awful skinny, but I ran so damn much that I kept it exercised off of me."

Jack Inman was the running forward.

"Jack just dribbled the ball, there wasn't nobody could take it away from him. He was a good as Marques Haynes, who used to be with the (Harlem) Globetrotters. And I'd work free and he'd throw me the ball and I'd put it in underneath. Short shots mostly. Oh, 10-12 footers, some underneath. I could shoot with either hand." 

Hert said he practiced shooting so much that he hardly ever missed.

"And I loved basketball," he said. "We'd play on the outside even when there was snow on the ground."

Newberry never played in a sectional as the state tournament as we come to know it later was not organized until the early 1920s.

"The team broke up shortly after we played our last game," said Hert. 'We did not play in a sectional.

"Everybody did not play in tournament like now. We didn't have the money. A nickel then was as big as a 20-dollar bill. Only teams like Bedford, Washington and Vincennes did that. We just played on Friday nights." 

Hert told Lamm that the game was very different some 50 years after he laced up sneakers.

"You can't compare the game now with what we played,"  he said. "Once we went up to Bloomfield for a game.

"L.V. (coach Phillips) couldn't go and neither could Charley Crock (assistant coach). I think some student manager refereed the game and he just let us go." 

He added they played one hour -- two, 30-minute halves with a running clock, compared to the 32 minutes now.

"It was just different then," Hert said. "When you went in, there was no resting. There wasn't any out-of-bounds. The four walls were there, but you never stopped. If the ball hit the wall, you just played it." 

Hert also said there were not many fouls called and fewer held balls.

"We also couldn't run under the basket because the goal was on the wall. There may have been a mat there to protect your self but I don't remember." 

Hert added a few more tidbits from the record-setting performance.

"Worthington got two foul (shots) -- one a half," he recalled. "I didn't have any.

"Ordinarily I shot the fouls. But in that particular game, we just let the fella closest shoot. We were trying to save time. I think our center Dutch Neff shot most of them." 

Ironically, Hert told Lamm that he did not like to watch high-scoring games, when the ball went from end to end.

Hert said he enjoyed the career of Bobby "Slick"  Leonard, who played and coached professional and now does color commentary on radio of his old team the Indiana Pacers, during his playing days at Terre Haute Gerstmeyer and later at Indiana University,

Lamm said that Hert was a bridge between the past and present and that his 90-point game still glitters..

Although Hert' s accomplishment was almost a century ago and has been forgotten by most, it is still there in the record books.

Only Herman Suz  Sayger of Culver (113 points) and Guy Barr of Rochester (97) ever scored more than Hert did in Greene County 95 years ago. Tim Taylor of White's scored 90 in a game in 1971, the only modern day total.

Hert quit playing after his sophomore season. None of the articles ever asked him why, but school and basketball took a back seat to help your family survive during those tough times.

Lamm said that Hert might have turned out to be somebody like Leonard, things had been different.

"I remember my father working for a dollar a day,"  Hert said some 45 years ago. "And we were tickled to death when he got a raised a quarter.

"Why, we thought we were independent." 

Musselman attended Newberry until 1947 and graduated from Lyons High School in 1951.

Newberry consolidated into Lyons after the 1946-47 school year. Lyons became a part of L & M and the Braves went in with Switz City and Worthington to become White River Valley after the 1989-90 school year.

Different days and different times they might have been, indeed. But in the history of basketball in Greene County, nobody ever scored more in a boys basketball game than Hert.

Amos became the unofficial historian about that game.

"It was just something that kind of happened," said Amos. "It was always a part of my dad's life and it is ironic that by way of some old pictures and photos and stories that it became a part of mine." 

B.J. Hargis is the sports editor of the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12 or at hargisbj@gmail.com.



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