LEGACY CHAMPIONS: Monroe High School Wildcats Basketball Team Ruled During the 1960s
By Steve Wilson // April 22, 2019
2019 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
BACK-TO-BACK STATE CHAMPS
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA (Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame) – They may have been the very best Brevard County high school basketball team ever assembled. You can certainly make a case for it.
As a group, these players reached four consecutive State of Florida Final Fours, were back-to-back state champions, and sent multiple players on to play collegiate basketball.
If not for a defeat in the finals at the hands of Roosevelt High School in Lake Wales in the 1963-1964 season, they would have recorded three consecutive state championships.
Who were they? They are the Monroe High School Wildcats – Class of 1964-1965.
Led by head coach Richard “Dick” Blake, they were a terror on the basketball court and there was no team anywhere that was better conditioned than the Wildcats.
Blake believed in running before practice, four to five miles, just to warm up.
According to former player Lee Maull, when the Wildcats returned from their pre-practice run, Blake had them run some more in the gym – then it was time for practice!
It’s difficult to say who the “star” of the team was because the Wildcats were a “team” in the truest sense of the word. Each player had a job to do, and they did it well.
They were also a versatile group. The parts interchanged. Multiple players would lead the team in scoring, rebounds, assists, etc.
During the regular season, the Wildcats traveled as far north as St. Augustine, and as far south as Belle Glade. They finished the regular season with a 33-1 record. The Wildcats even scored an incredible 152 point in one game.
Monroe High School defeated Kennedy High School from Riviera Beach for the state title and the game was held in Riviera Beach in front of a hostile home crowd. It took the Wildcats three overtimes to claim the championship, but they did bring the trophy back to Brevard.
After their stellar prep careers, many of the players went on to successful business careers.
State tournament Most Valuable Player Bob Hall was one of the first players to go on from an all-black high school to a Division I college to play basketball, attending East Tennessee State University.
When asked why this team was so successful, Bob Hall and Lee Maull used words like “unselfish, friends, love, truly caring for each other.”
Maull went on to say that “usually when you saw one of us, you saw the other 11, we were that close.”
It was not unusual for them to get back to school late after a Friday night game, grab a few floor mats in the gym, spend the night and wake up shooting baskets in the morning.
Sadly, five of the Monroe state champion Wildcats are no longer with us, including Randy Eubanks, Alphonso Dennis, Jerome Daniels, Earl Sanders and Arthur McCrimmon.
“They were a part of our team, they were a part of us, they will never be forgotten,” said Maull.
The remaining team members are Lee Maull, Willie Maull, Bob Hall, Eddie Dean Thomas, Switzon Wigfall, Leonard Whitehead and Ronald Griffin.
Yes, the 1964-1965 Monroe High School Wildcats were, without question, the best team of their time. And who is to say that they would not defeat any team playing today. Certainly not this author. They were that good.
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