Previously, the school gym had been in the old opera house on the rear second floor, off Ellis street of the B.F. Fowler Store. Haddonfield High entered the high school league, the Camden Conty Suburban League, that was comprised of Camden High, Haddon Heights High, Collingswood High, Woodbury High, and Audubon High. There had been a lapse of three years in high school basketball so class games were played and from them a squad was picked.
Mr. Herbert Mathers, the physican training director of the school system, was the coach. Ed Graff was the manager of the team. The first team was Mat Hartline, Milt Hemphill, Dick Bimmer, Don Gees, Ed Wood, and Cy Marner who was also the captain. Yes, it was the same Cy, who later became a teacher in the high school and the football coach. (He beat Collingswood in his first year coaching which was our first football victory over them in 16 years.) Sub Heath, Norm Savage, Earl Hill, Al Jacoby, El Duncan, and Charlie Hurst formed the rest of the basketball squad. It was a small team in stature with Cy and Milt being the only tall men.
Inexperience that year showed by the record of four victories and 10 defeats. There were three afternoons for practice as the games were scheduled the other afternoons. It was different basketball than it is now. Then after every field goal and foul shot, the two centers jumped for the tossup of the ball by the referees, with teams lined up as though the game was just starting.
In the Audubon game that year, Don Tees scored at the end of the game and was fouled in the process. He had two foul shots and, if successful with both the score would be tied. He made the first point and the second shot he banged the ball hard again – at the backboard, got the rebound and made the goal to lead Haddonfield to a one point victory.
Eddie Saline, the referee, declared the goal was not good. In another second, time ran out and the game was over with Audubon the victor. No one but Eddie knew that in mid-season a rule had been changed and that an honest effort had to be made to score every foul shot. The games were well attended that first year with often more than 600 fans crowding into that new gymnasium. Reminiscing with Don Tees and Dick Bimmer made much of this column possible.
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