Statesmen Play Hoops, Too Football-Rich Webster Seeks 1st Basketball Title

Article excerpt

At Webster Groves High, Jack Jones is a link to the school's rich athletic past. Want to know something about the Statesmen? Ask Jones, the athletic director and program's elder statesman.

But in Jones' 33 years at the school, he never has witnessed the level of excitement that filled the hallways this week. For the first time since 1969, Webster will play in the state basketball tournament's Final Four.

The Statesmen (27-3) meet Independence Truman (21-8) in the Class 4A semifinals at 12:20 p.m. today at the Hearnes Center. DeSmet (24-6) plays West Plains (28-2) in the other semifinal, and the winners play for the 4A championship at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

All week at Webster, students and teachers sported orange "Win" buttons. The commons and the cafeteria buzzed with hoops talk. A pep rally Thursday afternoon gave the team its send-off to Columbia. Six buses carrying Webster students will leave this morning.

All this in the hope that the school will win its first state championship in basketball.

Webster Groves High has a strong tradition in football; Jones coached the Statesmen to state championships in 1979 and 1988.

"I think a lot of times, with the Turkey Day tradition, people have thought of Webster as a football school," said basketball coach Tim Moore, who came to the school in 1984. "But if you check the records, Webster has won two-thirds of its basketball games since the early 1900s. It has a strong basketball tradition."

In 1969, Webster lost the Class L (large schools) state championship game to a dynamic Sumner High team that included 7-foot David Brent and future St. Louis U. star Harry Rogers. The Statesmen countered with frontline stars Bill Foster and John Reed and guard standouts Dan Dunkman and Doug Wessel, but the Bulldogs wore them down 71-57 at old Kiel Auditorium. …