HOF banquet, Lady Huskies’ win generate warm feelings

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com
Pawhuska’s Kaiti Moen (00) brings the ball swiftly up the court against Newkirk in the Lady Huskies’ 53-31 win last Friday. Photo by Robert Smith/Journal-Capital

A Basketball Hall of Fame induction banquet and a decisive win Friday night by the Pawhuska Lady Huskies generated warm feelings among the Pawhuska basketball faithful.

The banquet and Hall of Fame induction took place at Calvary Baptist Church, across 15th Street from the Pawhuska Public Schools complex that includes the high school and the field house.

Donnie Martin Jefferson, who was known in his playing days as Donnie Martin and was a member of two Pawhuska Huskies state championship teams in the early 1970s, was particularly moved by the opportunity to return to his hometown to celebrate the past glories of Pawhuska basketball.

“Playing for the Pawhuska Huskies, I tell you what, it’s in your blood,” Jefferson said. He recalled the outstanding quality of both the coaches and the players.

“We had some of the greatest coaches in Oklahoma,” Jefferson said, commenting that head coach Max Shuck was “an awesome dude.” Jefferson said he had been longing for quite a while to see Shuck.

“Man, we were loaded,” he said of his fellow players, explaining that Pawhuska frequently had better substitutes coming off the bench than the starters for other teams and there was always a big crowd at home games. “The house was packed. If you didn’t get there early, you had to stand along the walls.”

Jefferson described it as a joy to know that people in Pawhuska thought enough of him to induct him into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

“You people have made this a wonderful night for me,” he said.

Other inductees included B.J. Smith, who is head coach of the women’s basketball team at Highland Community College in Highland, Kan., and Jim Rowland, who is head coach of the women’s team at Northeast Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) in Miami.

Smith, who played for Pawhuska High School in the early 1980s, clearly enjoyed being reunited with high school classmates and with friends he knew because of Pawhuska basketball. He especially noted how much he learned from coaches and teammates at PHS about the spirit of athletic competition.

“It’s what made this place great,” he said in front of an audience that included young men and women who play basketball for Pawhuska now.

Rowland, a 1986 PHS grad, who was introduced to the banquet crowd by his daughters, said an emotional thank-you Friday night to Pawhuskans for giving him a great place to grow up.

“Thank you, Pawhuska community,” he said. “It means a lot, knowing the history and the traditions of Pawhuska basketball.”

He thanked coaches for giving him, as a child growing up in a single-parent home, the discipline he needed to learn important life lessons. He also thanked old friends and their families for opening up their homes to him and giving him the gift of friendship; and he thanked B.J. Smith, who helped him get into coaching.

There were four honorees Friday. W.N. “Bill” Palmer, who kept basketball statistics for Pawhuska basketball for more than 50 years and passed away in 1982, was the fourth inductee. Palmer, a local attorney, was noted for his devotion to Pawhuska High School athletics and to the Boy Scouts.

Jefferson, Smith and Rowland were introduced to the basketball crowd Friday at the field house between the girls game and the boys game. There were several past Pawhuska Basketball Hall of Fame inductees on-hand to be introduced, as well.

The introductions followed a Lady Huskies game against Newkirk, which the home team won by a score of 53-31. The PHS ladies led 27-12 at the half and 36-20 after three quarters and coasted home to the win. It was the Lady Huskies’ second victory over Newkirk within a week. Pawhuska won 56-45 in an overtime game at the Tonkawa Tournament on Jan. 26.

The Lady Huskies played opportunistic basketball Friday night, forcing numerous turnovers from Newkirk, and both the old-timers and PHS Coach Ernie Barnett were pleased.

“We needed to play well and we played well,” Barnett said with a smile, acknowledging his team turned in an aggressive performance. “We’ve got that kind of athletes. It’s kind of painful to watch them go up and down the court slow.”

In the nightcap, the boys were less fortunate. Coach Jake Christenson’s squad lost a close one, 47-46. The Huskies and Lady Huskies are slated to be at home Friday night against rival Barnsdall.