‘Stateline Sports Memories’: ’55 West High Warriors win the state championship

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Can a basketball team score six points in one second? It’s mathematically impossible you say? You must not know about the old Rockford West High Warriors.

They scored six points in one second against Elgin in 1955 on their way to winning the state championship. Rex Parker was one of the starting guards on that team. He shared with me in 2005 just how all of that went down. That’s my latest ‘Stateline Sports Memory.’

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[STORY FROM 2005]

“It’s Parker bringing it up the court for the West High Warriors from Rockford, Illinois.” The sound of the play-by-play man calling that 1955 championship game still sends chills down the spines of many people including Rex Parker.

“I was captain. Everybody played together. Everybody worked together,” said Parker.

Parker was the point guard on that 1955 West team. Nolden Gentry and Johnny Wessels each stood 6′ 7″ tall. They were the top scorers. Rod Coffman and Fred Boshela rounded out the starting five. The Warriors were playing Elgin in the State Finals at the old Huff Gymnasium in Champaign. West had lost only one game during the regular season. The Warriors were favored to win the championship.

“We were ranked number one right off the bat, and I think we were ranked number one for the entire season,” said Parker.

But Elgin bolted out to a 26-10 lead, and West still trailed by 13 at halftime. West coach Alex Saudargas had his Warriors switch to a press on defense. It worked. West clawed its way back and took the lead, but only for a moment. Elgin soon regained the league.

What tilted this game toward Rockford West and what people still will talk about today was what happend with 2:19 to play. West trailed by six points. The Warriors then did the unimaginable. They scored six points in one second.

“We were down 51 to 57 with two minutes and 19 seconds left,” recalled Parker. “And Nolden Gentry went up for a shot. It went in, but when he came down he was fouled right after the shot.”

So in addition to the basket, Gentry was sent to the line for a one-and-one. He converted both for points number three and four. Parker was directly involved in what happened next.

“They threw the ball in to a fella that was over on the side that I was on,” said Parker. “We both went up for the ball, but he was probably four inches taller than I was.”

The Elgin player came down on Parker, and he was called for a foul sending Parker to the line.

“And I got a one-and-one and made both of my free throws.”

So two more points went on the board with the clock stopped. The six points in one second pulled West into a 57-all tie. West went on to win the game on a tip-in by Gentry with nine seconds to play prompting the play-by-play announcer to day, “And West Rockford wins the 1955 Illinois High School basketball tournament! How about that one for a finale. That was a finale to end all.”

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