The Buldog

Saturday, January 21, 2012

History of Bulldogs Basketball

This is a picture of the Old Marsden Factory where the first basketball teams practiced.
Display at the 100 year celebration

Linden High School
The story of Linden High School basketball began early in the history of the school.  Linden’s first high school was chartered in 1906 with the first basketball team making its appearance in 1907.  Records from Darlington indicate that the lads from Linden came to Darlington for a game and walked all over their hosts, so Linden must have won its  first ball game.   The first teams practiced in an abandoned factory owned by the Marsden Company which was located north of the Cloverleaf Railroad and east of the park in Linden.    The factory employed 50-100 people and manufactured cellulose for battleships and Navy cruisers.  The factory burned in 1900 and was never rebuilt.  The book, Tales of Quinine Township recorded that the early teams practiced on a cinder court east of the school, on a dirt floor of the abandoned Mardsen factory and at a store building on Main Street.  They played their scheduled games at Romney and at the YMCA gymnasium over the interurban station in Crawfordsville. There was no gym at the school from 1906 to 1928.  The high school building was built around 1920 with new classrooms and a gym being added in 1927-28.
Linden High School athletic teams became the Bulldogs in the middle 20’s as they adopted a nickname like other schools in the County. The County tourney began in 1932 and Bulldogs had to wait 5 years to get to the throne room.  The Bulldogs claimed 6 County Championships in all, second only to New Market which won 7.  Linden won their first County crown in 1937 under legendary coach Cliff Davis, playing in the Crawfordsville Armory.  Davis coached the Bulldogs from 1935 to 1937.  Alex Cox took over in 1944 and led the Bulldogs for 4 years winning the County in 1948 and posting an overall record of 57-14 including a mark of 14-4 in the championship season.  Ralph Bunton assumed the reins of the Bulldog athletic program in 1949 and stayed for 6 years leaving with an overall record of 70-51, with a County crown in 1952 when the Bulldogs posted a glossy 18-3 record.  Bill Springer guided the Bulldogs for two years posting a 35-8 record and winning the County Tourney in 1960 when the Bulldogs were 19-3.  Marvin Arnold coached at Linden for 4 years winning the County in 1964 when the Dogs had a record of 15-6.  Arnold’s overall record was 48-32.  Tom Speaker coached the Bulldogs for their final three years as consolidation claimed the County schools in 1971.  The Bulldogs won the last County tourney in 1971 as Speaker’s crew posted a record of 17-4.  Speaker’s teams were 44-17 in his 3 years.  Speaker later wrote a book entitled  The Last County Championship.  Linden like Ladoga and Alamo never won a sectional although the Bulldogs made it to the final games 5 times.
That’s the broad picture of Bulldog basketball.   Next, we need to look at individual players who made the Bulldogs competitive every year.  The names that pop up are the names of Bob Vail, Don Waltz, Jr. Waltz, Daryl Warren, Phil Winger, and Steve Denhart.  These are the players whose name appears in the top ten of the three categories of career scoring, single season scoring and single game scoring.

Bob Vail 1949
Bob Vail was a scoring machine.  In his distinguished three year career, he played 63 games and scored 931 points for an average of 14.8 points per game.  He posted the 7th and 8th highest season mark with 388 points in 1948-49 and 366 points in 1947-48.  He still holds the single game high with a 48 point explosion in 1947-48 against Clark’s Hill.  Older Linden fans will recall his high-arching one handers from the corner and his aggressive defense and rebounding.  He was a complete player for the Bulldogs from 1946 to 1949.
Don Waltz 1952
Don Waltz put the bull in the Bulldogs.  He was a strong, aggressive rebounder and defender, who was still good enough around the basket to score 917 points in 66 games for an average of 13.9 points per game placing him 6th on the Linden career scoring list.  He scored 393 points in his senior season of 1951-52 for an average of 17.1 ppg.  He helped the Bulldogs to two County championships in 1949 and 1952.  It is unfortunate that rebounding statistics are not available, because Don Waltz would have been at or near the top.
Jr. Waltz 1955
Jr. Waltz played 79 games for the Bulldogs in the middle 50’s, scoring 995 points 3rd in career scoring for a career average of 12.6.  He was a four-year letterman for Linden playing as a freshman on the championship team of 1952 with older brother, Don.  Jr. scored 416 points in his senior year of 1955 for an average of 16.6 ppg.  That placed him 4th on the single season scoring list behind 3 blockbuster years by Daryl Warren.  Jr. was a fierce competitor like his brother Don, but was smaller and played guard and forward.
Phil Winger 1965
Phil was the first 1000 point scorer in Linden basketball history scoring 1006 points in his 83 game-career for an average of 12.1.  Phil was the leading scorer on the Bulldog team that won the 1964 County tourney.
Steve Denhart 1967
Steve Denhart is one of only three players who finished in the top 10 of all three major categories. (The other two were Bob Vail and Daryl Warren)  In only 53 games, Steve scored 748 points for a career average of 14.1.  In his senior year, he blistered the nets for 404 points for a 19.2 average.  He had a high game of 37 points against Coal Creek Central that year.

Daryl Warren 1971
Daryl Warren was the player that all young Bulldogs of the late 60’s and early 70’s wanted to be like.  Daryl finished his four-year, 84 game career with 2083 points for an average of 24.8 placing him at the top of Bulldog basketball scoring.  He is the top single season point producer with 644 points his senior year for a 29.7 average, 592 his junior year for 29.5 average and 434 points his sophomore year for an average of 21.7.  Daryl Warren recorded 6 of the top ten Bulldog single game scoring marks recording 45 against Waynetown in the 1969-70 season, 40 against  Granville Wells in the 1969-70 season, 38 against  New Ross in the 1970-71 season, 38 against Darlington in 1970-71 and 36 against the Indians the same  year and 35 against Waynetown in his senior season of 1970-71. After 51 years, his 2083 points still ranks him 26th in the state in the 100 year history of Indiana High School basketball.  Only 39 players have scored over 2,000 points in the state of Indiana, led by Damon Bailey’s 3,134 and Marion Pierce’s 3,019.

Other Bulldog notables who are certainly worthy of mention are players led by Harlan Vail who played in more games than any other Bulldog.  Harlan played in 88 games in his four- year career and scored 974 points ranking him 4th on the career list.  Fred Johnson scored 902 points in his three year 66 game career placing him 7th on that list and scored 350 points his senior year placing him 10th on the single season list.  Jim Smith scored 809 points in his three year, 65 game career placing him 9th on the list and scored 36 points in a single game against Richland Township his senior year.  He was the leading scorer on the 1964 team that won the County Tourney.