And now you know: Mauriceville Panthers beat Orange West Chiefs in Orange Invitational – Orange Leader
In the past, a basketball tournament was held in Orange for Orange County schools. In 1960 it was held in the gymnasium at Cove School.
Sixty-one years later, the tournament is no longer taking place, the gymnasium has been demolished and the schools that played the championship game no longer exist.
On December 17, 1960, the Mauriceville Panthers faced the West Orange Chiefs for the Orange Invitational Tournament championship. The game was played in the Cove School gymnasium and the Panthers won 51-37. The match was reported by Orange Leader sports editor George Pharr.
It was a difficult and exciting game. With 6:55 remaining in the game, the score was tied. The Panthers’ Bennie Williams scored with a jump shot that gave the Panthers a 33-31 lead.
Then, over the next two minutes, the Panthers broke what had been a close duel when they scored five straight baskets, giving them a nine-point lead over the Chiefs.
Chiefs player Ernie Runnels scored with 3:57 on the clock, but the Panthers’ lead was wide and late in the game their lead could not be overcome. From Runnels’ shot to the end of the game, the Chiefs only scored two more baskets as the Panthers continued to “spice up the net.”
There had been questions about who would win the Championship trophy until the Panthers beat the Chiefs in the final quarter. The game was sold out with people standing and sitting on the floor. Nobody cared because it was a great game and very exciting no matter which teams they were supporting.
There was a lot of screaming and screaming as the excitement built up and the excitement stayed high until the last quarter. By this time, the Panthers’ lead was so great that some people started to leave the gym.
The game’s lead changed five times until Mauriceville took the lead in the fourth quarter and held it by a wide margin.
West Orange fought with determination with a team they had split wins with twice before in the season. Before the championship game, it could have gone to either team. This time the game started to move away from the Chiefs in the third quarter. After the tie was broken and the Chiefs started following the Panthers, they were never able to reverse the lead.
In the first quarter the lead had changed four times and by halftime the Chiefs were leading 15-9. Some thought at the time that the chefs would stay ahead. But in the third quarter, the Panthers began to fight back. The score was tied 23-23. West Orange scored, then the Panthers’ Derry Dunn hit the net to make it 25-24.
The Chiefs’ defense was played so hard that Panthers leading scorer Andy Dunn was limited to just seven points for the game. Dunn was named tournament MVP after scoring 63 points in three games.
The Chiefs were credited with 25 rebounds compared to the Panthers’ 30. The Chiefs scored with 15 for 50 attempts giving them 30%. The Panthers scored 20 of 53 attempts to gain 30.7%.
Little Cypress beat Deweyville 68-36 for third place. Bridge City defeated Warren 48-36 for the Consolation Trophy.
“And now you know.”