CHOUTEAU, OK —
— — —
In the state semifinals, Chouteau drew a tough Dunjee team they beat by four, 45-41, to set up the state final match with Muldrow.
After the win over Dunjee Friday, Devers went back to his hotel room and went to sleep in preparation for their game Saturday with Muldrow. At 2:12 early Saturday morning, he received a telegram. Devers feared the worst, because a telegram that early in the morning was almost always bad news.
It wasn't bad news, though. It wasn't really news at all.
“It was from some ag teacher or something at two o'clock in the morning sent me that. 'Don't stop now,' it read. Go all the way.'” Devers said. “Add to that there was a honky-tonk across the street that had been slamming doors and making noise all night. Boy, I was just so keyed up then, I couldn't go back to sleep.”
Since Devers was already dressed, he decided to take a walk. He went five or six blocks down the street in downtown Oklahoma City, where he found a small church.
“To this day I have no idea what the name was or what denomination it was, but when I tried that door, it was open,” Devers said.
Doc prayed that he wouldn't make any coaching errors and that he and his players would perform to the best of their ability. He didn't pray for a win, because that's exactly what Muldrow would be praying for, too.
“I stayed in the dark for about 10 or 15 minutes and felt really good when I came out of there,” Devers said.
— — —
Six o'clock. It was go time.
Muldrow shared the hotel with Chouteau, one floor below the Wildcats. The night of the state title game, the Chouteau manager overheard some of Muldrow's players saying that they were going to attack Holmes at the rim, because they thought he was “just big and clumsy” and couldn't stop them.
“That was the best thing Ken could have heard,” Devers said. “He showed 'em on Saturday night.”
Holmes was a terror that night. He anchored the Wildcat defense, which held Muldrow to just 11 points in the first half.
The two teams were deadlocked at 11 heading into halftime, but then Devers did something he'd never done in his coaching career. He didn't head into the locker room. Instead, the team stayed on the floor to stretch or stay loose.
Devers looked around at his team, gathered them close and said three words: “We've got 'em.”
Chouteau was a third-quarter team that year, and proved it to the state that night in Oklahoma City. Steddum and Justice led Chouteau on a 9-2 run out of the break. The Wildcats outscored Muldrow 16-5 in the third quarter and coasted to the win on free throws in the fourth, securing the school's first ever boys basketball state title with a 29-1 record.
All-stater White scored 11 points and was named to the the all-tournament first team. Holmes scored 10 points and was named to the second team.
“Muldrow ran a 3-2 zone [in the 1963 state title game],” Devers remembered. “The next year, they came back and won the state championship. I went down and watched them, and they played with a 1-3-1 zone. The same one we used to beat' em the year before.
“That's one of the biggest compliments you can get as a coach.”
Unfortunately, winning the trophy wasn't all good news for Chouteau.
After the game, Devers pointed out that the high school didn't have a trophy case big enough to put the hardware in.