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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Bill Pierce’s almanac: LC Tigers perfect in 1943

Coach Squinty Hunter and Lewis and Clark had a great basketball season in 1943. With the win over Rogers to close out City League play, the Tigers posted the first undefeated league season by any team since 1935. It was also their 11th straight league title. The Tigers finished with a perfect 14-0 record .

Because it was 1943, in the middle of World War II, there was no state basketball tournament for Lewis and Clark to advance to. It had been cancelled due to war-time travel restrictions.

Because of this, and noting LC’s record, the Spokane Athletic Round Table contacted Everett High School to set up a best of three series in Spokane between the Tigers and Seagulls to determine a mythical state champion.

Everett, with a record of 19-2, was highly regarded, having won the Cross State League, as well as the Northwest Washington District Title. With the Round Table agreeing to pay all their expenses to Spokane, Everett agreed to the matchup, to be played beginning on March 17 at Gonzaga University.

With all expenses taken care of, the proceeds from the games were to go exclusively to the American Red Cross war fund.

LC had three of the top five scorers in the Spokane City League, Bobby Paxton, Clyde Matters and Bill Anderson. Everett was led by Jack Nichols, who was averaging more than 13 points a game, along with all-district selections Con Sampson and Gene Mercer.

Lewis and Clark had a decided home court advantage, having used Gonzaga’s gym for most of their contests during the season.  In front of a packed house, the first game came down to the wire.  Anderson grabbed a rebound on a missed LC free throw with less than 10 seconds to go, scoring the winning basket in a 31-30 victory for the Tigers.

The following night, Lewis and Clark again was victorious 27-22. With the Tigers already having won two games, the third contest was called off. Paxton was voted by the Everett players to their all-opponent team. Seagull Coach Bill Gowan facetiously suggested the officials could take two other spots.

LC finished the year 16-0. The next year the State Tournament was back in session, and the Tigers, fresh off their mythical championship of 1943, won the state crown for real in 1944.


Bill Pierce
Bill Pierce is a sports blogger who writes the weekly nwprepsnow prep sports almanac.

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