I was a sophomore in my last
year as a student at Henderson City High School. The following fall my family relocated to Chicago, Illinois. This would be the last time I would see this "ICON" at a basketball game.
The date was April 27, 1961.
For the second year in a row the Harlem Magicians & a local & state all-star team that basically consisted of a Kentucky
who's who's in Kentucky High School former basketball greats would clash on this warm Saturday night. The Henderson
All-Stars starting five were comprised team Captain Don Gish, King Kelly Coleman, the 1956 National high school player of
the year, Lyle "Redeye" Dunbar, Benny Horrell, & Pascal Benson. The rest of the team members were Byron Pinson, Billy
Brown, David Eakins, & Winfred Thompson. Former 7 footer, 2 time University of Kentucky all-American Bill Spivey was initally
named as a member of this elite Henderson all-star team, but a prior commitment prevented him from joining the team.
Little did they know on that night they didn't need him. This group of all-stars would play 60 minutes of grueling
basketball on the hardwood floor at the Henderson City High Gym before a sellout crowd of 5,500 fans. This was as close to
a professional basketball game that you were ever going to see in this part of Kentucky, and I assure you from first hand
experience, it was one helluva basketball game. As a youth, and in my adult days, I still today, believe this was the best
basketball game I personally witnessed. Gish, Benson, Brown, Pinson, Eakins are all ex-Barret/Henderson City graduates.
The remainder of the all-star team was made up of former Kentucky high school all-state performers.
The Harlem Magicians were comprised
of Marcus Haynes, Sweetwater Clifton, Goose Tatum, Curly O'Neal and others.
Kelly Coleman told the Magicians
that this game was going to be played serious, or he would not play. The Harlem Magicians knew little about the
basketball prowess of Kentucky's all-time greatest high school player, but as the game ended, they knew first-handed who the
real King of basketball was.
In case most of you don't remember
or were not aware of, that cast of all-stars led by King Kelly Coleman (33 points) & Don Gish (24 points, 21 rebounds),
beat the Harlem Magicians 82-75. The Henderson all-stars victory ended an 189 game win streak for the Harlem Magicians.
Keep in mind that prior to this game this group of all-stars never played together as a team. The team was hand-picked by
former Henderson Barret/Kentucky Wesleyan standout Don Gish. This Henderson All-Star group was not to be out done by
anyone on this balmy spring night.
Harlem Magicians frustrated member Goose Tatum was arrested by Henderson County Sheriff Cleo Gish
(Don Gish's father) & jailed in the Henderson County jail by for slugging referee Charlie Denton (Referee Charlie
Denton was 1963 HHS grad Billy Denton's father), in the face during the game. Tatum was released next day on bail and
that was the last year the Magicians appeared here. What was so strange about the ordeal, was that most of the local fans
thought the punch in face was part of the game. I can assure all of you that referee Charlie Denton didn't feel it was
part of the game, much less see any humor about it. Goose Tatum retired after this game. Tatum's bail was set at $1,000 and
the team made bail the next morning. A Court appearance was set at a later date, but Goose Tatum jumped bail. No charges
were filed against Tatum by Charlie Denton against the Goose and the state & County did not pursue it any further. I suppose
being Magicians, they just disappeared into the night and faded away.
These hand-picked Henderson All-Stars had enough talent to play as a pro team. It's
a shame that someone come up with that idea in 1961.
Roster for Henderson all-team team
Don Gish Henderson,
KY C 6' 6"
Lyle "Redeye" Dunbar Glasgow,
Kelly Coleman Wayland,
Benny Horrell Daviess
County, KY F 6' 6"
Byron Pinson Henderson,
KY F 6' 3"
Henderson, KY F 6'
Pascal Benson Henderson,
KY G 6'
David Eakins Henderson,
KY G 5' 10"
Winfred Thompson Central
City, KY G 6'