Burleson was a basketball town

Ray: I am a big fan of high school sports and looking forward to watching the Burleson high schools play basketball this season.
An old timer told me Burleson has a great basketball tradition. The old coot seemed to be a bit senile, so I need for you to give me the straight poop.
John: My knowledge of Burleson basketball comes straight out of the book, “BURLESON BASKETBALL – THE FIRST 40 YEARS.”
The book’s first page is a good place to start: ACCREDITATION.
“This book is dedicated to C.L. Booth, Jr., head coach 1950 thru 1957, and the memory of J.W. Norwood, head coach 1920 thru 1949. In 1956 when Mr. Norwood retired, Burleson boys had been district champions 32 of 37 years, 29 of those years he had been head coach.
He was assisted part of those years by Dan Hudson and Doyle Stalcup. He also coached the girls during part of this period and assisted Minnie Belle Booth, girls coach from 1944 through 1949. During this time the girls won three district and one Bi-District Championship.
In 1950 when Mr. Booth (better known as Junior) took over as head coach he had a tough act to follow, but he gave a great performance in his eight short years in Burleson- winning district seven times and bi-district once.
The girls during this period won two district championships, one co-district title and was runner-up for district in 1954, which was our first year in class A.
Junior moved to Waco in 1958 and Waco’s gain was Burleson’s loss.
During the above years Burleson was a “basketball town” the “team to beat” and we are proud of our reputation! So to Jr. and the memory of J.W. Norwood and all the great teams of this era we, the Burleson Ex-Students Association, dedicate this book.”
Ray, the “old coot” may have been on target when he told you Burleson had a great basketball tradition. I think that by the boy’s team winning district 32 out of 37 years is a strong indicator of greatness.
J.W. Norwood was also school superintendent from 1924 until his retirement in 1956. He has an elementary school named in his honor.
C. L. Booth, Jr. was a fourth generation Burlesonite. He was born in Burleson, schooled in Burleson and played on the basketball team. He was referred to as “Junior” because his father, Clarence L. Booth, Sr. was also a life resident of Burleson and president of the BISD trustees in the 1940s.
After graduating from Burleson High School in 1942, Junior attended Texas Wesleyan College and graduated from Texas Christian University. He served his country in the Philippines during World War II.
Junior began his teaching career in Burleson and coached all athletic teams. In his second year as basketball coach, Burleson had an enrollment large enough to accommodate a football team.
Although Junior had a basketball background as a player and coach, he accepted the challenge and began building a football program in Burleson. Junior and his early teams laid the foundation for the football teams
Burleson enjoys today. Burleson is now larger and football is king, but we should not forget the coaches and students who made Burleson an acclaimed basketball town.
In the 30s, 40s and 50s a small town did not need a chamber of commerce if it produced winning basketball teams.
My thanks to Harold Booth, son of Junior Booth, and Dick Thomas, member of the first football team, for assisting me with this commentary.
The book, “Burleson Basketball - the First 40 Years,” should be available at the Burleson Public Library.
The book is available for reference at the Visitor Center and Museum.

John Duke Smith is a Burleson history buff. Ask him a question you’ve always wondered about with the subject “Ask John” at johndukesmith@ sbcglobal.net and what he finds out may be a future column.

Burleson Star

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