By Don McAlavy: Local Columnist
The book “Ghost Town Basketball” about former high school basketball teams of New Mexico was published in 2006 by Steve Flores of Albuquerque, a former high-school teacher and coach.
Profiles follow for five of nine Curry County schools based on information from the book. The other four will be profiled next week.
• The Bellview High School was open from 1914 to 1940. The team was the Yellow Jackets.
Bellview began playing basketball during the 1925-26 school year and was one of the first schools in the area to play basketball inside a gym. Bellview never made it to the state tournament, but played in every district tournament from 1926 to 1940. Its best win came against Portales in the district tournament in 1940. The school was razed in the early 1970s.
• The Center High School team was the Tornadoes and went to its first district tournament in 1929.
Located two miles south of Clovis, the school was open from 1928-1938. Center never won district titles or qualified for the state Tournament. Center defeated Fort Sumner in 1932, and also defeated Dora, but lost to Portales and Bellview. The gym is now used as a barn and for some time was used by the Clovis Wildcats basketball team for practice. The school building is gone. Center was established in the early 1900s when three area schools were combined. Center High School consolidated with Clovis in the fall of 1939.
• Claud High School was open from 1925 to 1929 and later was used as an elementary school. It was torn down in 1955. (This columnist was in this school from 1938 to 1944.)
Claud played four years as members of an organized district, entering its first district tournament in March 1926. In those four years Claud lost in the opening round each time.
The Clovis yearbook in the late 1920s listed Claud as an opponent every year.
• The Field High School mascot was the Panther with red and black colors. The school was open from 1928 to 1957.
The Panthers played organized basketball for 30 years. The team had some competitive years, but never made the state championship game.
It took the Panthers 10 years before the team won its first tournament game in 1939. That was also the best finish by the Panthers in district play.
It was difficult for small schools, such as Field, to advance beyond the first round. Field lost to Clovis by seven points in the semifinals of district in 1939. Had Field won that game, the Panthers would have qualified for the state tournament.
• The Hollene High School Rangers played organized basketball for about 20 years. Hollene was open from 1921-1940.
The school population was never more than 65 students.
Hollene never made the championship game of district or qualified for state.
Hollene did, however, win an important county championship in 1937, beating Bellview 29-20 in the opening round and Center 36-16 in the second round. In the championship, Hollene defeated Field 18-16. For the season Hollene won 16 and lost four games. The coach was Delmer Lee. In 1941 Hollene consolidated with Bellview to form Rosedale High School.