McConnell: Greatest scorers ever

This story comes from longtime staffer Jim McConnell, the man we call, “The King” around the office. He writes a weekly Then & Now column. This week he writes about the greatest high school scorers.

You can watch high school basketball and enjoy the subtleties of the game – or you can root for the rock to rip the nets. This columnist must admit he is not a basketball purist. I have often pondered why, and I think I now know the reason: When I was a mere boy of 9, I saw Billy Kilmer play. Kilmer, who played at Citrus High in Azusa, was front-and-center of a scoring revolution in prep basketball in the Southland.
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It all began in 1951 when Alhambra High’s Fred Bane became the first player in the state to score over 700 points in a season. Bane had 736 points in 29 games for the Moors that season.

Covina High’s Fred Crabtree upped that record in the 1954-55 season, scoring 789 points in 31 games.

Next up was Montebello High’s Jerry Pimm. In the 1955-56 season, Pimm eclipsed the 800-point mark. He finished with 864 points, in 33 games, for the Oilers.

Citrus’ Kilmer lifted the CIF State standard to 900 in the 1956-57 season, hitting that mark on the nose in 34 games.

Suddenly the 1,000-point barrier, which seemed unapproachable as late as 1950, appeared to be reachable.

Adding interest to the mark were developments in the NBA. There, Newport Harbor High grad George Yardley became the first NBA player to reach the 2,000-point plateau, accomplishing that feat in the 1957-58 season for the Detroit Pistons.

The 1,000-point level was finally obtained by Paul Westphal of Redondo Beach Aviation.
Westphal, who went on to star at USC and in the NBA, scored 1,040 points during the 1967-68 season.

Bill Cartwright of Elk Grove High in northern California broke Westphal’s mark in 1974-75, finishing with 1,232 points.

The state scoring record returned to the area in 1978, when Crescenta Valley’s Greg Goorjian ripped the nets for 1,259 points. Goorjian’s record was notable for a couple reasons. He accomplished that total in only 29 games, and virtually all his baskets came from outside.

The CIF did not recognize the 3-point shot until the 1987-88 season. Had the rule been in place when Goorjian played, he likely would have reached the 1,500-point level.

As things developed, the first prep player in the state to reach the 1,500 mark was Glendora High’s Tracy Murray, in 1988-89.

Murray scored 1,505 points that season in 34 games, an average of 44.3 points per game. Going into the 2008-09 season, Murray’s 1,505 points remains the state standard.

The 3-point rule helped Murray, although he was also adept at scoring inside. And, like virtually all the players on this list, he was outstanding at the free throw line.

Averaging 40 or more points per game in high school basketball is indeed notable. Remember, there are only 32 minutes in a prep game, as opposed to 40 in college and 48 in the NBA.

No matter how good you are – and how weak the opposition is – the clock is going to limit your scoring chances.

The 1,000-point club remains one of the most elite in the CIF. Only one player has reached that level twice. He is Glendora’s Casey Jacobsen, who scored 1,070 points in 1997-98 and 1,028 points in 1998-99.

Glendora’s Jacobsen, with 3,284 points, and Murray, with 3,053 points, are two of only five players in state history to surpass the 3,000 mark in career scoring. Tracy’s younger brother Cameron is sixth on that list. Cameron Murray scored 2,842 points in his 4-year (1990-94) career at Glendora.

In fact, the Murray brothers and Jacobsen hold virtually all of the area’s records for scoring, shooting percentage and free throws attempted and made.

Cal-Hi Sports has compiled a list of state players of the year in basketball. The Cal-Hi list begins with the 1905 season. Locals on the list include Whittier’s Stew Beam (1917), Whittier’s Vestal Stanley (1918), Crescenta Valley’s Goorjian (1978), Wilson’s Scott Williams (1986), Glendora’s Tracy Murray (1989) and Glendora’s Jacobsen (1999).

Considering that list also includes the likes of Hall of Famers Hank Luisetti, Bill Sharman, Jim Pollard and Bill Walton, it’s safe to say our locals are in some exclusive company.

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