As with football, Spokane high school basketball teams played in no organized league until the Spokane City League was formed in 1925. Prior to that, the results of the annual games between the schools resulted in a “City Champion”.
On Jan. 7, 1926, 200 fans at LC witnessed Gonzaga High and Lewis and Clark meet for the first league game in history. LC came away with a 23-18 win in the first of thousands of league games to follow, which continue to the present day.
Four teams made up the City League in the first year, and for many years to come. Gonzaga was coached by Maurice “Clipper” Smith, who also served as the Gonzaga University coach. LC was mentored by a man who was to become legendary, Elra “Squinty “ Hunter. The other two coaches that season were Milt Benjamin at Hillyard and Jack Friel at North Central.
The league didn’t have a true round robin style of play in the first years. LC and NC played a series calling for the best 3 out of 4, while Hillyard and Gonzaga met the other schools twice each, making for a different number of league contests for each school. That discrepancy, in one form or another, was to last until the 1932-33 season when a true round robin schedule was devised.
Lewis and Clark won the first league title with a 7-1 record, with only a 20-12 loss to NC to mar its record. That league title was the first of many to come for the Tigers, who eventually became the dominant program in the years that followed.
The top three scorers in the league were all from LC. Pierce Campbell topped the list with an 8.8 average per game. George McNeil and Harvey Nelson followed with 6.0 and 5.6 averages. Obviously, it was an era of low scoring games.
Campbell was chosen the captain of the all-league team that year. Nelson joined him on the squad, as did Ralph Hallett of Hillyard, Einar Hove of NC, and Francis Kelly from Gonzaga.
Lewis and Clark represented the City League at the State Tournament in Seattle and won the first state basketball championship for Spokane, defeating Yakima in the title game, 20-17, after trailing 11-6 at halftime. Both Campbell and Nelson were selected for the all-state team.
It was a very good first season, not only for Lewis and Clark, but for the league as well.