The Graves County Boys
A Tale of Kentucky Basketball, Perseverance, and the Unlikely Championship of the Cuba Cubs
Publication Year: 2013
In 1952, a year when Coach Adolph Rupp's University of Kentucky Wildcats won their third national championship in four years, an unlikely high school basketball team from rural Graves County, Kentucky, stole the spotlight and the media's attention. Inspired by young coach Jack Story and by the Harlem Globetrotters, the Cuba Cubs grabbed headlines when they rose from relative obscurity to defeat the big-city favorite and win the state championship.
A classic underdog tale, The Graves County Boys chronicles how five boys from a tiny high school in southwestern Kentucky captured the hearts of basketball fans nationwide. Marianne Walker weaves together details about the players, their coach, and their relationships in a page-turning account of triumph over adversity. This inspiring David and Goliath story takes the reader on a journey from the team's heartbreaking defeat in the 1951 state championship to their triumphant victory over Louisville Manual the next year.
More than just a basketball narrative, the book explores a period in American life when indoor plumbing and electricity were still luxuries in some areas of the country and when hardship was a way of life. With no funded school programs or bus system, the Cubs's success was a testament to the sacrifices of family and neighbors who believed in their team. Featuring new photographs, a foreword by University of Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall, and a new epilogue detailing where the players are now, The Graves County Boys is an unforgettable story of how a community pulled together to make a dream come true.
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
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The Graves County Boys is a great story from start to finish. it is about a small group of teenagers coming of age in a remote region to another. Marianne Walker tells the boys’ story so engagingly that this book will appeal to a wide range of readers: of all ages, and whether they are fans of basketball or not. it is a true story about ...
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The idea for this book came from my friend Pam Thomas who, years ago, suggested i write an article about her husband’s high school basketball team. Puzzled, i shook my head no, reminding her that i did not do sports. at that time, Pam was married to howard Crit-tenden, who was principal of the large high school in henderson, ...
1. The Cuba Cubs
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...tucky schoolhouse, Coach Jack story took his eighth-grade basket-ball prodigies into the auditorium. he had set up a film projector, a screen, and some folding chairs there. as the boys sat down, he straddled a straight-back wooden chair, folding his thick arms on its back. he talked to them for a few minutes about what it means to ...
2. The Little Crossroads Team
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With their diligent daily practice and with the guidance of their coach, the Cubs—by the time they were juniors—had quite a won-derful reputation in western Kentucky and West Tennessee. Known lar and respected team, well grounded in the fundamentals. They played uniquely, with a flair that resembled the harlem Globetrot-...
3. The Clutch
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...it is not enough to fight. it is the spirit which we bring to the fight just before the first game was to begin, Coach story went over their nent, play before, he gave his boys what knowledge he had about how he thought they would play, who their best players were, and what the Cubs should do to prevent them from scoring. in his usual ...
4. The Coliseum Darlings
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Just hours before the final tournament game was to begin, the gover-fet party held for all the coaches, the board of control, and others ernor lawrence Wetherby emphatically but undiplomatically stated, “i’m for Cuba—all the way! The way those kids fight, and just don’t want to lose, make sports great. so you take Manual, Clark County, ...
5. A Vision and an Oath
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...lexington, Kentucky—March 1951. it was near midnight when the bus returned the Cubs and their classmates to the Phoenix hotel after the closing ceremony ended the 1951 tournament. a gusty win-try wind, whipping around the street corner, stung their faces as they stepped from the bus. “Man, it’s cold as a well-digger’s tail,” ...
6. The Homecoming
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...early the next morning, silence hung heavily in the Kaiser as Coach story led the motorcade of supporters home. But that silence was broken just outside of lexington when much to their surprise peo-people on either side of the street in front of the café welcoming them on that cold, overcast day. it seems that after Coach story ...
7. The Land between Rivers
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Men’s customs differ; different people honor different practices; The phenomenal support that Cuba, the Jackson Purchase, and all the rest of western Kentucky gave to Coach story and the Cubs did not go unnoticed elsewhere in the state. across the Commonwealth newspapers featured large photographs and articles about the coach, ...
8. The Boys from Graves Cocunty
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...tion of one hundred or so, but all were from similar small commu-nities in southern Graves County. These little farming communities had developed wherever half a dozen or more families settled. one of the families would open a store bearing its name, and the area from Cuba and three miles from the Tennessee state line. They were ...
9. Little Cuba, Hub of the Universe
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The closing of the Pilot oak high school not only brought howie and doodle together with Jack story and the other boys, it made the little place with the strange name Cuba the hub of their universe. and this small, remote settlement in the Jackson Purchase is rooted in the region’s nineteenth-century exportation of tobacco products....
10. Doodle Floyd
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Pilot oak, Kentucky—1932–1948. From the time he was six until he graduated from high school in Cuba in 1952, doodle lived with his parents in a three-room unpainted house on a forty-five-acre farm. it was just off the Pilot oak–dukedom road, close to the Tennessee state line, three miles from Pilot oak. his dad paid $800 in cash for ...
11. Howie Crittenden
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...in Pilot oak, to Willie and alta ruth Crittenden. They were the youngest of ten children. alta was forty-one years old—far too old, the other women said, to have another baby, much less two at one time. The twins must have been a big surprise for Willie and alta bearing days were over. norman, their youngest, was nine years old ...
12. The Migration
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...in late spring of 1943, Willie Crittenden moved to detroit to find and the twins. Before he left, he moved his family from Pilot oak into the house his oldest daughter emily and her husband had just vacated in their own move to detroit. alta and the twins would live there until school was out, and then they would leave for the city....
13. The Tragedy
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The most important person in doodle’s young life was his brother James, three years older. doodle adored James, and James loved his little brother with all his heart. They worked and played together. as it always is, even with best friends, some bickering went on between them occasionally, but it always ended in laughter. until James ...
14. Mischief Makers
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...around the age of thirteen, howie and doodle got to thinking that they were grown up. doodle, especially, started thinking of himself as a big guy—chewing on a cigar, spitting tobacco, comparing the budding bodices of female peers, and expanding his colorful vocab-ulary—all of which got him into varying degrees of trouble with his ...
15. Jack Story
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...in the fall of 1947, the people in Cuba were thrilled to have Jack story at their school again. When coaching there once before, during 1942–1943, he had brought the team closer than it had ever been to the state tournament. he led Cuba to the district runner-up position, losing by only 1 point to Benton. Both teams went on to the 1943 ...
16. Sowing the Seeds
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The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. one afternoon in the fall of 1947, shortly after Jack story started work at the Cuba school, he was in his office waiting for the lunch recess to end. it was a typical early october day, still too warm to wear a jacket. The windows were open wide, and the noise from the ...
17. Preparing to Win
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...all coaches have their own methods of motivating their players. They have favorite words they emphasize, and Coach story’s was determination. he applied it to every human endeavor, believing that nobody ever achieves anything worthwhile unless he is determined to do so and has prepared himself for the challenge. he warned the ...
18. Skull Sessions
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...all times. although he well understood that boys will be boys, he let them know that they were to act right. he talked to them about what it means to be an athlete, stressing that an athlete plays fair. he never cheats. he wins by outplaying his opponent. and he never underestimates his opponent’s strength. story warned them often ...
19. Unforgettable Cayce
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Pilot oak. howie and doodle were ecstatic. They finally had a hard surface on which to play ball when they could not play in the gym. in the stillness of hazy summer afternoons, many of the folks in as usual, when the moon was full, the boys played late into the night—and in all kinds of weather. This year-round outdoor com-...
20. Different Encounters
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...matured, with the weight of great expectations upon them. They were not promising underclassmen anymore. They were the varsity now—the Cuba Cubs. When the school year started in the fall of 1950, the changes in all of them were noticeable. They had grown taller and ous ankle pain. Without his defense and rebounding, the team could ...
21. Pride before Another Fall
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The Cubs opened the 1950–1951 season with two big wins: one over lowes, 81-48, and the other over Cayce (again), 75-36. as juniors with an enviable reputation, they were preening like rock stars the night they were scheduled to play at lynn Grove, a nearby small, poorly built rural school. although they had not forgotten the Cayce ...
22. The Season of Joy and Sorrow
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...if you think losing with good sportsmanship is as good as winning, early in January 1951, the Cubs lost their second game of the sea-ings, beat them 62-61. The day the Cubs left for Winchester to play Clark County, snow was falling heavily in Kentucky. They left early ington, an eight-hour drive. needing an extra driver, Coach story ...
23. Cubs Turning into Lions
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The Cubs kept their promise about building their endurance. They ran and practiced basketball hard all summer long. People in Cuba and in Pilot oak watched with admiration as the boys streaked across fields chasing rabbits. By January 1952, they were actually catching rabbits, some folks said. Many early mornings before school, howie ...
24. Lexington, Here We Come!
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...during their senior year, the Cubs paid little attention to their schoolwork. it was impossible to keep up with it, tutors or no tutors. Wanting the players to have all the experience they could, Coach story completely revised their schedule, so that they played one game after another. in addition to playing all the area schools in ...
25. The Little Comeback Team
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...of all human powers operating on the affairs of mankind, none is reminded readers in his column “down in Front” of the criticism out-of-town teams and their fans and other visitors had heaped on lexington (the host of the state tournament) the previous year. he expressed hope that criticism could be avoided this year and from ...
26. A Memorable Year: 1952
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Cubs prepared themselves for the championship game that evening against louisville Manual, which had just survived a grueling semi-final game of its own to upset Clark County 54-53. Clark County and Manual were rated first and second, respectively, in the asso-ciated Press poll that year. earlier, Clark County had beaten Cuba ...
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...at the closing ceremony of the 1952 state tournament, howie and doodle, for the second straight year, were among the ten boys cho-sen for the all-state Tournament Team. linville Puckett from Clark County was selected for the third straight year. The other Kentucky greats were Phil Grawmeyer from Manual and his teammates Curtis ...
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This book is about real people and real events, and i could not have written it without the cooperation of those i wrote about. With kindness and patience, these people shared their memories, time, ble to help me along the way. Two good friends of mine for many years, lucinda evans and Jeffrey douglas, deserve my special grat-...
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Page Count: 262
Publication Year: 2013