From the Fortress of Solitude
I talked to my Dad (Charles) about his first cousin Woody Williamson this evening. He told me the story of Woody and Deadwood's 1954 Championship Basketball Team. I'd like to share that story with everyone this evening.
Woody Williamson and the 1954 Deadwood Bears Basketball Team, won the 1954 South Dakota State “A” Basketball Championship.
Woody played for Deadwood, my dad (Charles) played for Belle Fourche. The two cousins played each other throughout the 1953-54 school year. Both teams ended up facing each other in the regional playoffs.
“Woody played a great game,” Dad said. “We lost because of our 6’4” Center messed up on his free throws. Throughout the whole season he was making 95-98% of his free throws. During our game against Deadwood he was lucky to be making 45%. We lost.”
Deadwood went on to play for the Championship Title at the State A Tournament held in Huron. Woody was number 22.
Deadwood, a town of 3000 played Sioux Falls, a town of 70,000. Sioux Falls had one high school with a student body of nearly 3000 . Deadwood had 300 students in the entire high school.
“Woody was amazing during the game against Sioux Falls,” Dad remembered. He was listening to the game over the radio back in Belle Fourche. “From what I remember Woody made six basket in a row from what would be 3 point range today. Of course in those days we didn’t have 3 point baskets. Woody couldn’t be stopped. I think Woody’s playing was a major reason Deadwood won the tournament. You could hear from the radio that Sioux Falls fell apart. They were demoralized.”
The following was taken from a write up about the game found on the internet:
The 1954 Deadwood High School basketball team had a terrific season, only losing one game during their regular season. They qualified for the State A tournament, which was held in the Huron Arena that year. The arena seemed like Madison Square Garden. The team had never played before 6000 people.
The first game was against Sioux Falls Washington High School. Very little hope was given for the Deadwood Bears against a school with 3000 students. Deadwood’s victory got a lot a people’s attention. The second game was against Huron who had the home advantage. It was a close game but once again Deadwood surprised the prognosticators. The championship game was against Parkston and once again, the Deadwood Bears surprised everyone. After the final game a young sports reporter by the name of Al Neuharth interviewed Coach Burgess. This same reporter is the founder of USA Today and is responsible for the Al Neuharth Center at USD in Vermillion.
The team had a wonderful reception upon their arrival in the Black Hills before they ever got home. The Sturgis Scoopers were out on their Main Street to greet the team. There was a huge reception when the team reached Deadwood.
A Recent Reunion of the Surviving Players from the 1954 Championship Game. Woody is standing directly center next to the trophy.
Hats off to you Woody for a great game and great memories!