NORMAN — It was the last championship of a dynasty. Norman High won four state basketball titles between 1955 and 1962. Only one other school has ever matched that feat in Oklahoma’s top class before or since.
The team was ranked No. 1 in the preseason and expectations were nothing less than a fifth championship for Norman. Nothing else would satisfy.
“We started No. 1, we finished No. 1 and we’re still No. 1,” Jack Herron, a senior on the team, said.
The team had a single mark on an otherwise flawless record, not lessening the greatness of the team but adding to the legend of the season. Before a game with Shawnee, Herron injured his foot. The lack of Herron’s on-court leadership and talent made them a vulnerable target for the Wolves, and the Tigers lost.
“I could have had surgery and missed the rest of the year, but we had too much at stake,” Herron said. “I went to OU and met with coach Crowder and we learned how to tape my foot and I played the rest of the year.”
Senior player Terry Fischer said the loss didn’t create any desperation or provide added incentive, they still expected to win, but the loss did give the disappointment of a perfect season gone. This realization helped to solidify an unselfish trait in the team.
“We were the most unselfish team,” Herron said. “That was one of the things (head coach) Chet (Bryan) taught us.”
Bryan was well known for pushing his players, teaching teamwork and that a team of guys who played with discipline and worked hard could be better than another team with more raw talent.
“We worked very hard,” Gene Bauman said. “We would play the OU players over at South Base. Chet Bryan was hell on wheels, he was a strong disciplinarian and taught us to win.”