The Pryor Times


March 14, 2013

'There ought to be a law'

Remembering the 1963 Chouteau basketball team



— — —

Devers coached for five years at Chouteau, his alma mater. He was 32 years of age when his team won the state title in 1963.

“We concentrated on our defense. We ran a 1-3-1. If they can't score, they can't win. That's kind of the way we looked at it,” Devers said. “Defense was the name of the game for us. The 1-3-1, if it's not set up right, it's the sorriest zone in basketball. If it is, it's the toughest thing you've got going.”

Chouteau lost just one game in their 1963 state title season, a 38-31 defeat at the hands of Salina. They blazed through the regular season and postseason tournaments, finally winding up in Oklahoma City for the state tourney.

In the first round of the '63 tournament at the Oklahoma City Municipal Auditorium, the Wildcats played Geary. Geary took a seven-point lead with about three minutes to play when Doc called a timeout.

“Our front man, Johnny Justice, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, 'Coach, we gotta do something,'” Devers said. “I said, 'Yeah, you're right.'”

Whatever they did, it worked. Chouteau found itself up by three with 15 seconds to play. Devers, along with everyone else in the building, knew who was going to take Geary's next shot: H.L. Brown.

Brown was well-known as a pure shooter. As Devers recalled, he just knew how to put it in the hole. He could knock it down from anywhere on the court.

“If we'd have had 3-pointers back then,” Devers said, “there's no telling how many points he would have scored.”

In the huddle before Geary's final possession, post player Ken Holmes spoke up with authority. “If you all get out of my way,” Holmes said, “I'll get the rebound when he misses.”

Sure enough, Brown missed to the right, and Holmes snared the rebound. The game in hand, Holmes passed out to teammate Robert Steddum ― who happened to be standing out of bounds.

“Boy, I could have cried,” Devers said.

With five seconds left, Geary went to inbound the ball ― and promptly passed it to a Chouteau player. The Wildcats escaped with a 47-44 win.

“When we got back to the hotel after that first game, I took off my coat and looked down. There were sweat rings that went to my belt,” Devers said. “There was a good deal of pressure in that game.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • adair abbey stephens.jpg Adair aiming high in 2014

    Adair's Lady Warriors will have plenty of chances to earn respect and a shot at the program's third straight regional tournament appearance in 2013.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • dirtseller pirtle.JPG Locals take their game nationwide

    Five Locust Grove Pirates represented the United States over the weekend at the USA Football 16U/17U National Development Games in Towson, Md.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • Patterson, McIntire named to rosters

    Salina's Cullen Patterson and Locust Grove's Cameron McIntire have been selected as replacements for this week's Oklahoma Coaches Association All-State events in Tulsa.

    July 27, 2014

  • kegley mug.jpg Pryor's Kegley serving with purpose

    Pryor's Taylor Kegley always knew he was destined for a career of service.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Chouteau approves athletic upgrades

    Chouteau High School is getting a head start on making upgrades to its athletic facilities.

    July 22, 2014

  • doty mug web.jpg Ex-Tiger Doty adjusting on and off the field

    Former Pryor Tiger Christian Doty joined the Oklahoma Baptist University football team for its first season in 73 years in 2013, and rejoined the team Friday to begin preparations for the school's sophomore season.

    July 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • lococo.jpg Wildcats marching to their own beat

    After spring sports finished, Salina head coach Matt Williams had a peculiar message for his football team.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tigers earn top seed, fall in semis

    Pryor's improved passing game was on display again Monday, as the Tigers traveled to Hilldale for a 7-on-7 tournament and finished in the tourney's top four.

    July 15, 2014

  • IMG_9538KRT.jpg Summer Nationals returns to Chouteau Bend

    After a year-long hiatus, the Mid-America Summer Nationals drag boat races will return to Chouteau Bend.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • brock taylor.JPG Pirates slowed at 7-on-7 showcase

    Locust Grove went head-to-head against some of the best skill players in the region last weekend at the Southwest Elite 7-on-7 Showcase in Springdale, Ark.

    July 14, 2014 2 Photos