Author profiles area basketball teams

By Don McAlavy: Local Columnist

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of profiles of Curry County high school basketball teams based on the book “Ghost Town Basketball,” by Steven Flores of Albuquerque. Flores can be reached at
flores_1@msn.com and 294-4275.

• Lincoln-Jackson High School was established in Clovis in 1924. The school’s basketball team, the Tigers, started playing in the 1930s.
Only blacks attended the school, one of four segregated high schools in New Mexico. The team was not allowed to compete in county, district or state tournaments. It was not allowed to play against the “white schools” in New Mexico.
The Tigers played Texas schools, including Borger, Lubbock and Amarillo. The first year the Tigers were allowed to play in the New Mexico Activities Association was in 1954 when the desegregation act when into effect. It was the last year the school was open.

That year the Tigers played in the district tournament, defeating Causey and Rogers in the first two rounds, but lost in the semifinals to Rosedale.

• Pleasant Hill High School was open from 1921-1949.
For nearly 30 years the Pleasant Hill Indians played basketball. PHS usually beat the much larger Clovis High at least once a year.
In the 1920s teams had to draw to see which would play in the first round in the state tournament. PHS drew Clovis Wildcats. The Wildcats easily defeated PHS 58-28.

In the second round, Clovis lost to Alamogordo. Clovis decided to leave early and not play for third place.

PHS substituted for the Wildcats at the third-place game and defeated Albuquerque Indian School 23-12. That was the best finish in the school’s history.

• Ranchvale High School was open from 1922-1957. Its team was the Trojans.
The Trojans played more than 30 years. For the first 10 years, the Trojans did not have a gym and played and practiced on an outdoor court. A gym was built in 1932.
The Trojans’ first year at a district tournament was in 1923, and the team won its first two games against Floyd and Portales, but lost to Roswell.
In 1988 the school and gym were torn down, and a new school and gym were built. The building serves as an elementary school in the Clovis public school system.

• The Rosedale High School Cowboys played basketball for 14 years. In 1941, Bellview and Hollene merged to form Rosedale High. The Cowboys won three district tournament games in the first 10 years. Two wins came in 1944, when they placed fourth.

In 1951, the Cowboys won the district championship and went onto the regional. Rosedale finished the 1954 season placing fourth at state, the best finish in the school’s history. Rosedale never qualified for the state tournament again. The school closed three years later.

I have to tell the basketball story of Andy Chitwood, who went to the two-room Ruth School in 1923 when it was not yet approved as a high school. There were four students taught as high-schoolers.

Ruth was six miles south of Broadview on old Highway 18 and had only five basketball players. The school had no gym —only a goal on a post in the playgrounds.

Claud school some 11 miles south had eight or nine players when they came to Ruth to play. Ruth beat Claud.

The Claud principal, Warner Rose, talked Chitwood into playing for Claud, meaning he had to hitchhike back and forth, and taking classes at both schools.

“It was rather difficult at times,” Chitwood said.

After Ruth became an approved high school in 1925, Chitwood returned to graduate there in 1926.