And Now You Know: Mauriceville Panthers defeat the West Orange Chiefs in the Orange Invitational Tournament

Published 12:30 am Saturday, December 18, 2021

Mike Louviere
And Now You Know

In years past, there was a basketball tournament held in Orange for the schools in Orange County. In 1960, it was held in the gym at Cove School.

Sixty one years later, tournament is no longer held, the gym has been torn down and the schools that played the championship game no longer exist.

On December 17, 1960, the Mauriceville Panthers played the West Orange Chiefs for the championship of the Orange Invitational Tournament. The game was played in the gym at Cove School and the Panthers won 51-37. The game was reported by George Pharr, sportswriter for the Orange Leader.

It was a hard played, exciting game. With 6:55 remaining in the game the score was tied. Bennie Williams of the Panthers scored with a jump shot that allowed the Panthers to pull ahead 33-31.

Then within the next two minutes the Panthers broke what had been a tight duel when they scored five straight baskets, giving them a nine point lead over the Chiefs.

Chiefs player Ernie Runnels scored with 3:57 on the clock, but the Panthers lead was wide and that late in the game their lead could not be overcome. From Runnels shot to the end of the game, the Chiefs only scored two more baskets while the Panthers continued to “pepper the net.”

There had been questions about who would win the championship trophy until the Panthers outscored the Chiefs in the last quarter. The game was a sellout with people standing and sitting on the floor. No one minded because it was such a great game and very exciting, regardless of the teams they were supporting.

There was much hollering and yelling as the excitement picked up and the excitement stayed high until the last quarter. By that time, the Panthers lead was so great some people actually started leaving the gym.

The lead of the game changed five times until Mauriceville got the lead in the fourth quarter and kept it by the large margin.

West Orange determinedly fought with a team they had split wins with twice previously in the season. Going into the championship game, it could have gone to either team. This time the game started going away from the Chiefs in the third quarter. After the tie was broken and the Chiefs began to trail the Panthers, they were never able to reverse the lead.

In the first quarter, the lead had shifted four times and at the half the Chiefs led 15-9. Some thought at this time the Chiefs would stay ahead. But in the third quarter the Panthers began to strike back. The tied the score 23-23.West Orange scored one point, then Derry Dunn of the Panthers hit the net to bring the score to 25-24.

The defense of the Chiefs was so hard played that Andy Dunn, the top scorer for the Panthers was held to only seven points for the game. Dunn was named the Outstanding Player of the tournament having scored 63 points in three games.

The Chiefs were given credit for 25 rebounds against 30 for the Panthers. The Chiefs scored with 15 for 50 attempts giving them 30%. The Panthers scored 20 out of 53 attempts to earn 30.7%.

Little Cypress defeated Deweyville 68-36 to win third place. Bridge City outscored Warren 48-36 for the Consolation trophy.

“And now you know.”