Saturday, July 15, 2023

Chadron’s all-time single game high scorer still doing well at 88

By Con Marshall

It happened a long time ago and he played basketball in Chadron just one year, but an 88-year-old Assumption Academy graduate who lives in Sidney has the distinction of scoring the most points in one game while he was attending a high school in this community.

He’s Rich Fahey, who on February 19, 1952, while enrolled at Assumption Academy, poured in 45 points when the Panthers visited the Oelrichs Tigers.  The final score was 72-33.

Fahey’s 45 points are three more than Dick Muma scored as a senior at Chadron Prep in 1959 during a 70-40 romp over Lyman.  No other high school hoops players from Chadron have scored 40 points in a game, but two tallied 39 and six more at least 35.

After recently compiling a list of Chadron Cardinals who scored at least 30 points and another about the half dozen 50-point scorers in the Panhandle, it seems timely to revisit Fahey’s feat and also print a list of the 10 all-time high single game scorers from the three high schools that were once going full force in Chadron.

The Fahey story is intriguing in several ways.  One of them, of course, is that he’s probably older than anyone else who scored a point for any of the three Chadron teams.

Another is that he played at Assumption just that one year—1951-52—after transferring from Provo High School that was located in the village of Igloo near the Black Hills Army Depot. More specifically, both were close to where Edgemont is situated.

Fahey had played both football and basketball for the Provo Rattlers two years before he came to Chadron.  While playing hoops for the Assumption Panthers in ’51-‘52, he was listed as a junior, was enrolled at the Academy again the next year and graduated in the spring of 1953. He says the reason he couldn’t play in ’52-‘53 is because five years earlier in the fall of 1948-49, his older brother was attending Black Hills State in Spearfish and Rich went along and enrolled at Spearfish High.

However, when it was discovered that his parents did not live in the school district his family was notified that in order for him to stay at Spearfish High the Faheys would have to pay tuition.

“That’s when I went back to Provo, but I didn’t go to school the rest of that year,” he said. “I had played some basketball at Spearfish before I left there. “

So Fahey was a freshman all over again academically at Provo in 1949-50 and also considered a freshman while playing football and basketball for the Rattlers. When he enrolled at Assumption two years later he was classified as a junior, but he didn’t get to be a senior in athletics for the Panthers, because he’d played some basketball during his shortened year at Spearfish.

Thus Fahey watched from the sidelines in 1953-54 while completing high school and graduated in the class of 13 in May.  

A story in the Feb. 21, 1952, Chadron Record tells about Fahey’s 45-point feat.  The first three paragraphs follow:

“Paced by Rich Fahey’s 45 points, Chadron Assumption walloped Oelrichs, S.D., Tuesday night 72-33.  The Panthers took the South Dakotans in a blaze of points that kept the score more than doubled throughout the game.

“One-man-gang Fahey racked up his total to exceed by 10 points his previous high of the year.  Switching from his usual guard position to the center spot, the Academy junior couldn’t miss.  He dunked in (not literally as we think of dunks nowadays,) 18 field goals, and just for variety, canned 9 out of 9 gift shots.  Fahey played an excellent ball-stealing game on defense, and got many shots as the result of these tactics.

“McLatchey helped out with 19 points, and Dick Perlinski hit 4 field goals for 8 tallies. Oelrichs was paced by Doalen, who got 16, followed by Serry with 13.”

As noted earlier, that wasn’t the only time Fahey was a big scorer for the Panthers.

In early January, he had scored 34 points during a victory over Hay Springs during the Northwest Conference Tournament played in Chadron. That game story said, “Fahey hit equally well on set shots, jump shots or driving layups.  He’s also a good ballhandler”

On Feb. 15, he scored 35 points against Crawford. The game didn’t turn out well for the Panthers. 

The newspaper article says that with the score tied at 54-54, an Assumption player fouled out. However, the substitute failed to report that he was entering the game, a technical foul was called and one of the Rams made the free throw for the victory. 

Just five days later Fahey had his record-setting performance at Oelrichs.

Lifelong Oelrichs resident Maynard Britain thinks he probably knows why Fahey played center in that fateful game instead of guard.  He said the low ceiling in what was called “The Potato Cellar” made shooting from long range impossible, so the Academy coach put his best player near the basket.

Britain says as far as he knows no potatoes were ever kept in the Cellar, but it was given that moniker because about half of the structure was below the surface. It served as Oelrichs’ primary community center until the mid-1950s, when a new facility was constructed. Now, the new $5 million high school that was opened in early 2022 includes a gymnasium that is as stylish as any in the region. 

The 45-point game wasn’t the last of Fahey’s heroics.  

As the season was winding 

down, the Panthers played in the Class D District Tournament at Cody. Fahey’s classmate, Dan Konrath of Chadron, was there and took the photo of Fahey shooting a free throw. 

Konrath also took a photo of the clock that showed two seconds were left to play, and remembers that Fahey hit a long shot for the 43-42 victory as the clock expired.

However, the Panthers still had to play Mullen to qualify for the state tournament. That game was played in Alliance and didn’t turn out the way Chadron fans had hoped.

The Record had story about that game. It says:  “Panther Rich Fahey, playing his last high school game, gave the spectators a show with his phenomenal long shots from the center of the floor. In addition, he hit from any angle to total 28 points, rebounded well, played a top floor game and was aggressive on defense.”

Unfortunately, Fahey apparently was too aggressive on defense.  Assumption was leading 46-44 when Fahey fouled out with 90 seconds left to play. Mullen added two field goals and won 48-46.

When asked how he became such an outstanding basketball player, Fahey said,  “probably because I practiced more than most.” 

“I lived in the gym,” he added.  “When our family was in Provo and my dad worked at the Black Hills Army Depot, there wasn’t much to do, but there were two gyms and I made use of them.

During a recent telephone chat Fahey said he enjoyed his two years at Assumption. He added that through the years, he has attended several school reunions and kept in touch classmates. Konrath is one of them. The others are Ruth Katen Robbins of Scottsbluff and Joan Murphy Wolvington of Alliance.

“I had to have knee surgery a year ago, and it’s taken me longer to get over it than I thought it would,” Fahey said during the phone call.  “I’m getting along pretty well. I feel fortunate.” 

He noted that he has an oil well near Sidney that keeps pumping, and has a keno business that he tends to. We had to cut our phone call short because it was time for him to take his daughter’s dog to the veterinarian.

Rich wasn’t the only outstanding basketball player in his family.  His son Randy, was a standout at Sidney St. Pat’s in the late 1970s and was the leading scorer on the Chadron State team in 1982-83. Randy married Chadron native Laurie Nydahl and their sons, Spencer and Turner, were all-staters while playing at Grand Island Central Catholic. 

A list of the others who scored at least 35 points while they were attending high school in Chadron accompanies this story. 

Chadron’s All-Time Top 10 Scoring  By *High School Boys

Rich Fahey, Chadron Assumption, 45 vs. Oelrichs in Feb. 1952 (18 field goals, 9-9 free throws). Panthers won 72-33.

Dick Muma, Chadron Prep, 42 vs Lyman in Feb. 1959 (17 FGs and 8 FTs). Prep won 70-40. Muma finished career with 1,545 points.

Kevin Moore, Chadron Assumption, 39 at Holy Rosary in 1970 when he was a freshman (14 FGs, 11-15 FTs). Holy Rosary won 82-70 and the Crusaders’ Pat Mills scored 40 points.

Jim Montague, Chadron High, 39 vs. Job Corps in 1982. (18 FGs, 7-8 FTs).  Cards won 91-65.

Danny Kuska, Chadron Prep, 38 vs. Crawford, Feb. 11, 1950. (15 FGs, 8 FTs.) Prep won 67-43. Kuska scored 26 points in first half. He also scored 33 points in Prep’s 47-37 win over Waverly in Class C state championship game that year and was the state tourneys high score with 62 points in three games. 

Jesse Wood, Chadron High, 38 vs. Hot Springs, Jan. 1996. (13 FGs, 4 3-pointers, 8-8 FTs.) CHS won 72-67.

Kevin Moore, Chadron High, 37 at Crawford, Jan. 1973, (16 FGs, 5-6 FTs.) School record.  Cards won 74-61.

Elliott Eliason, Chadron High, 36 vs. Hay Springs in his final home game in Feb. 2010. (14-17 FGs, 8-10 FTs).  He also had 20 rebounds and blocked six shots.  Cards won 63-42.

Kevin Moore, Chadron High, 35 vs. Bridgeport, Jan. 1973. School record. (15 FGs, 5-5 FTs and 14 rebounds). Cards won 65-42. He also scored 32 vs. Gordon as a senior in 1972-73. Moore scored 1,826 career points at the two schools.

Jesse Wood, Chadron High, 35 vs. Scottsbluff, Feb. 1996, district playoff game, lost 63-59. (14 FGs, 6 3-pointers, 1 FT). Wood scored 30 points in 2nd half, including 20 consecutive points for the Cards. He tallied 1,446 career points while starting all four years.


 *All Chadron high schools. Prep closed in 1961 and Assumption closed in 1971.

+Fahey played only one year at Assumption, 1951-52, when he was a junior.  He did not graduate until 1953, but could not play in 1952-53 because he had spent the first semester of the 1948-49 at Spearfish High before dropping out.  He played at Provo High School at Igloo, SD, the 1949-50 and 1950-51 school years and then came to Chadron Assumption for the 1951-52 school year.  He remained at Assumption in 1952-53 and graduated that spring.   He was 88 years old and still doing well when this was written.

Note: As a sophomore at Assumption in 1970-71, Kevin Moore also scored 30 points in games against Crawford, Holy Rosary and Harrison and 29 vs. Holy Rosary and Lexington St. Anne at the state tournament.  In addition, late in his freshman year at Assumption, he scored 29 vs. St. Agnes. 

Prepared by Con Marshall, January 2023.