By Zach West
I must admit, I got a little carried away at Friday night’s send-off to historic Boney Matthews Fieldhouse in Purcell. With so many old-timers, former players and coaching legends around, I ended up chatting with way more people than I needed to for the story I had to write. Because of this, I decided to put a couple of the good tales I heard here on the blog.
Former Lindsay coach Charlie Heatly provided the first laughs of the night as he presented the game ball before the girls game. Heatly is a legend in his own right in girls basketball, with around 640 wins, 14 state tournaments, and 2 titles in 28 years at Linsday. Between 1964 and 1971, however, Heatly also coached the Lindsay boys team – meaning he matched up directly with Boney Matthews’ Purcell squad around 15 times.
As Heatly tells it, it’s around ’68 or ’69, and his Lindsay squad is soundly beating Purcell late in one game. All of the sudden, Boney appears directly behind him.
“Scoot over,” Boney says. “I’m not doing no good down there on my bench.”
So Boney – the Purcell head coach, mind you – plops down on the Lindsay bench and stays there for the last couple of minutes.
“He just sat there,” Heatly recalls, laughing. “The Purcell players didn’t know where to go for the rest of the game. During time-outs, they couldn’t figure out if they should come to our bench or stay at theirs.”
I was lucky enough to stumble across 74-year-old Grant Frankenberg, a 1951 Purcell graduate, as the evening progressed. Frankenberg played on Boney’s first state championship team, and he also played alongside and graduated with Purcell’s most renowned basketball player, Lester Lane.
(For a quick history lesson, after winning the state title at Purcell, Lane went on to become an All-American at OU, and was a starting guard on the 1960 U.S. Olympic gold medalist basketball team. Some of his teammates? Just a couple guys named Oscar Robertson, Jerry Lucas and Jerry West)
Anyways, Frankenberg had an interesting take on Boney’s legendary playing days. Although he was only 5-7 or 5-8, Boney was one heck of an athlete. While it has never been completely verified, Boney supposedly scored 98 points for Roff in a 142-0 win over Leigh in 1927 - an Oklahoma state record (I mentioned this in the regular story). As the story goes, Boney had 14 touchdowns and 13 or 14 extra points, although no statistics have ever been found of the game.
Frankenberg, however, said Boney may have nearly equaled that amazing feat while playing basketball.
“He told us he scored 99 points in a basketball game,” Frankenberg recalled of his playing days under Boney.
While I first thought Frankenberg was joking – or he was insinuating that Boney was joking – I quickly found out he was completely serious.
“I believed him,” Frankenberg said. “He was a great basketball player when we played against him. He was so small, but so quick and athletic.”
My last story comes not from an older person, but from one of the current Purcell basketball players. While most of the young people I talked to at the event had little idea of the history involved in the evening’s proceeding, not all of Boney Matthews legacy is forgotten in the younger generation. Hunter Marcum, a freshman on the team, said current boys basketball head coach Lee Reimer makes sure of that. Reimer has been at Purcell for 24 years.
“Coach talks about (Boney) a lot,” Marcum said. “A bunch of the younger guys don’t really know much about him, but we’ve learned from his stories.”
“Guys have sacrificed to make this a program,” Reimer said of his history lessons. “It’s up to us to carry on that program.”