Murphy’s memorable scoring streak set basketball record
The McCooey High School’s Shamrock Cagers are pictured at the beginning of the 1961-62 season. Front row, from left, John O’Donnell, John Hedges, Steve Miller, Bud Purvis and Pat Murphy. Back row, Larry Hammock, Earl Hull, Frank Crowe, Tom DeRoo and John Buckman. Courier-Post photo contributed by John Buckman.
MARY LOU MONTGOMERY
Nearly six decades have passed since Pat Murphy - then a senior at McCooey High School in Hannibal, Mo., - scored 56 points to set a new individual scoring record during a basketball game against Shelbina High School. He broke the previous record of 44 points in a single game set by McCooey’s Eddie Stolte during the 1959-60 season.
The six-foot-two senior, playing under the coaching of Harold Flanagan, Pat Murphy participated in the previously postponed Quint-City Conference game on Feb. 26, 1962, which took place on the auditorium stage at the old Shelbina High School.
John Buckman of Palmyra, a fellow teammate and a life-long friend of Murphy, is dedicated to the recognition of the individual scoring record set by Murphy, which Buckman believes has not been broken by a single player in the tri-state area during the ensuing six decades.
The game: a wild rush
“It was a game that had been postponed, in the Quint City Conference,” Buckman said. The regular season was completed.
“The rescheduled game was played on a Monday in late February,” Buckman said. “We loaded up in Coach Flanagan’s car” and headed for Shelbina. “We didn’t take a bus for basketball games. Flanagan had a station wagon, holding as many as could get in there. There had to be two cars, maybe Mr. Hedges, John Hedges’ father, might have driven the other car.”
Key team member, Bud Purvis, had a sprained ankle and was sidelined. Coach Flanagan, during his college years a standout athlete at St. Benedict’s College at Atchison, Kan., set out to play all of his seniors, who had been loyal to the team despite their lack of action during the regular, struggling, season.
Seniors on the 1962 McCooey High School team were: Pat Murphy, Bud Purvis, John Hedges, John Buckman and Tom DeRoo.
The only two seniors who had played in every game of the season were Pat Murphy and John Hedges.
Rounding out the team were: John O’Donnell, Steve Miller, Larry Hammock, Earl Hull and Frank Crowe.
“We ended up beating Shelbina 115 to 30, long before the days of three-point shots,” Buckman said.
Pat Murphy had 23 field goals and 10 free throws that night.
The Quint-City Conference consisted of schools in Shelbina, LaPlata, Monroe City, McCooey of Hannibal, Centralia, Palmyra and Louisiana.
Pat Murphy was an all-conference selection for the 1961-62 season. He had a total of 477 points in 23 games, for a 20.8 point per game average. Six-foot Bud Purvis scored a total of 315 points in 22 games, for a 14.3 average.
Two other Shamrocks, John O’Donnell and John Hedges, scored more than 100 points for the season.
The Shamrocks finished the season with a 9-14 record.
Ann Wellman of Palmyra and Pat Murphy were dating at the time, and she attended all of the home games in the new gymnasium adjacent to the school on Broadway, which had been completed in the late 1950s. “She took her score card to all these games and keep track of his shots.” Buckman said.
Pat and Ann were married August 29, 1964, and celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary prior to his death on Jan. 14, 2021.
Murphy continued his education at Moberly Junior College (now MACC), where he played basketball for Lowell “Cotton” Fitzsimmons. The 1962-63 Greyhound team finished second in the Nation of the Junior Colleges of America.
McCooey High School closed at the end of the school year, 1966, but memories still linger for those of Murphy’s generation. A Facebook page exists where class members frequently share memories and post photos from the past.
The history of McCooey High School dates back to 1925, when the sisters of James Henry McCooey, Anna Theresa and Mary McCooey, gave $125,000 for the construction of a high school in his memory. Constructed on the site of the old St. Joseph’s School, at Broadway and Maple Avenue, it was dedicated on Oct. 20, 1926.
Known initially as Immaculate Conception McCooey Memorial school, 23 received diplomas in June 1928.
Graduates were: Mary Buchanan, Lillian Denkler, Helen Denkler, Katherine Ferro, Mary E. Kendrick, Katherine Kane, Dorothy Lamere, Margaret Lamere, Dorothy Lamont, Vernnica Moore, Dorothy Sullivan, Marceline Shelvy, Mark Wolfe, John Clark, Oliver Clark, Joseph Head, Kenneth Kearney, Bernard Kearney, Francis Lilly, William Miller,Wallace Grimaud, Malcolm Sherwood and George Weber.
Today, the school serves grades pre-K through 8th grades.
The McCooey teammates fondly remember Ed O’Neill, long-time Hannibal Courier-Post sports writer. He covered McCooey’s small team as diligently as he did the Hannibal High School Pirates, keeping meticulous individual and team stats.
In March 1962, O’Neill published some highlights from the Shamrock’s past:
In 1960, the Rocks lost a 58-54 quarter-final game to Cairo in the Clarence tournament.
In 1959, the Rocks lost a 53-51 decision to Ilasco in a semi-final game of the Clarence tournament, when Larry Tatman cased two free throws for Ilasco with 15 seconds left to play.
In 1958, competing in the “M” regional at Bowling Green, the Rocks lost to Bowling Green in a semi-final game by a 56-50 score.
In 1957, competing in the “M” regional at Montgomery City, the Rocks were defeated 64-55 by Wentzville in their first game.
The year 1954 was the big one for McCooey, the Shamrocks defeating the local Douglass High School team 59-57 for title honors in a B class tournament here at the Admiral Coontz Armory.
When Harold Flanagan came to Hannibal in the fall of 1960, the former athlete was 37 years old and weighed in at a hefty 230 pounds. He and his wife, Betty, had four children, Larry, Mary, Danny and Nancy.
He died April 10, 2009, at the age of 86. He was preceded in death by his wife, and was survived by three of his children. Burial was at Saint Francis Borgia Cemetery, Washington, Franklin County, Mo.
Note: Thanks to John Buckman for sharing information for this story.
Pat Murphy, 32, made a futile slide for a loose ball under the McCooey basket in a third-quarter scramble for the ball in the Mark Twain-McCooey third place game of the McCooey tournament in early February 1962. Holding the ball is Mark Twain’s Mac Elliott, No. 45 is McCooey’s Bud Purvis and the boy on his knees wearing glasses is Mark Twain’s Mike Johnson. Courier-Post photo contributed by John Buckman.
The McCooey High School gymnasium is under construction in this 1958 photo contributed by Mary Pickett.
Bud Purvis, a six-foot senior with the McCooey Shamrocks, in the spring of 1962. Courier-Post photo contributed by John Buckman.
Pat Murphy, a 6-foot-2 senior with the McCooey Shamrocks, in the spring of 1962. Courier-Post photo contributed by John Buckman.
Harold Flanagan, basketball and football coach for McCooey Shamrocks in 1962. Courier-Post photo contributed by John Buckman.
Mary Lou Montgomery, retired as editor of the Hannibal (Mo.) Courier-Post in 2014. She researches and writes narrative-style stories about the people who served as building blocks for this region’s foundation. Books available on Amazon.com by this author: "The Notorious Madam Shaw," "Pioneers in Medicine from Northeast Missouri," and "The Historic Murphy House, Hannibal, Mo., Circa 1870." She can be reached at Montgomery.firstname.lastname@example.org Her collective works can be found at www.maryloumontgomery.com