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Curiouser and curiouser

March 8, 2010

Featured Article

For those of who who don’t live here and only know the state by the usual barefoot and stupid cliches, West Virginia is a strange and wonderful place. In this book written by my newspaper colleague and the long-time humor columnist Rick Steelhammer, the state’s oddball charm “has found its Boswell,”  as I write in a recent profile of  “West Virginia Curiosities.” I have lived here off and on for the better part of a quarter-century, and almost every page I turn I learn something new.  Such as the following. I really like the shooter’s reaction to how he embarrassed the other team. His reaction is vintage old-school West Virginian:

. . .
“Top Gun,” Burnsville

While Jerry West may be West Virginia’s best-known homegrown basketball legend, a slender hoops star from Burnsville High School has earned a measure of immortality of his own by setting a national single-game scoring record that has endured for more than a half century. Danny Heater of Burnsville scored 135 points in a contest on January 26, 1960 with Widen, an even smaller high school in neighboring Clay County. The feat, certified by the National Federation of State High School Associations, accounts for the highest point tally ever recorded in a high school, collegiate, or professional basketball game. Heater’s score topped Wilt Chamberlain’s NBA record 100-point game against New York by 35 points and topped the next-best high school scorer by 7 points …

In an interview forty years after the 173-43 victory, Heater said he had mixed feelings about setting the record. “I was happy and sad at the same time,” he said, happy for having his team recognized for a scoring record and sad for humiliating the Widen team.

“I wasn’t raised to embarrass people,” he said. “I didn’t know what to say. What do you say when you’ve done that to somebody?”

Read more about the book and a Q-and-A with Rick Steelhammer here.

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