High school celebrates anniversary of historic victory

March 13, 2008 5:12:50 PM PDT
Fifty years ago, the Marshall High School basketball became the first Chicago Public League team to win the state tournament.The team was 31-0 that night, and on Thursday night, the team planned to celebrate in the very gym where they won many of those games.

George Wilson won as NCAA championship, an Olympic medal and played in the NBA on the first Bulls team. But walking the halls of Marshall High School, he says, brings back his fondest basketball memory.

"That 1958 was the greatest experience I've had with basketball," Wilson said.

Wilson and his teammates dealt with discrimination at nearly every turn in the late 1950s and came through it without excuses to become the state champion. The banner hangs in the same gym the team played in, and they will gather for their first-ever reunion.

"We need to do this. Too many people dying, not just the ball players but people, and they have fond memories," said Willie Box, Jr., reunion organizer.

The timing is great. Marshall has enjoyed an almost unprecedented year in basketball, with the girls team winning the state title last week. And earlier this week, the boys' team won the supersectional against North Chicago. It's an exciting time at the school but George Wilson still commands a great deal of respect from current students.

Some of the awards he donated are proudly displayed in the school's trophy case, but for Wilson, the team meant more than basketball. And he's excited to see them.

"It's like a family. That's what I try to tell everybody. We've just been friends for 50-some years," he said.

If the boys' team is able to win the title weekend, it would be only the second time in state history that the boys and girls teams from the same school have won the state championship during the same season. They play at 12:30 p.m. Friday, and they're getting a great sendoff