Madison High and the 1939 State Basketball Tournament

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Madison High and the 1939 State Basketball Tournament


I thought I had written up all of the Madison County teams that had been to the state basketball tournament. I have done articles on Berea High, Red House, Richmond High, Waco, Madison-Model (three trips in four years, a third place finish in 1944), Madison High (a second place finish in 1969) and the White Hall (girls) team. Somehow, I missed Madison High’s first trip to the state in 1939. After an extensive archival search in EKU’s library, here is the story of that team.

The 44th district play went like this — first round, Union City 21, Berea 17; White Hall 28, Berea Academy 24; Bobtown 54, Newby 19. Second round, Irvine 23, Waco 18; Madison 48, Union City 11; Bobtown 36, White Hall 27; Red House 35, Kirksville 17. Semifinals, Madison 33, Irvine 10; Bobtown 34, Red House 17. In the finals it was Madison 31, Bobtown 28.

Against Union City Buster Maggard had 17 points for Madison, Bobby Jennings had 12. In their easy win over Irvine, the Purples scoring was Parrish 10, Maggard 9, Jennings 8, Francis 4 and Wiggins 2. The game against Bobtown was much closer, Madison only led by 18-13 at the half. Jennings led Madison with 13 points, Parrish had 7, Maggard 5, Wiggins 3, Francis 2 and Cornelison 1. Hensley led Bobtown with 10 points. Both teams advanced to regional play.

In the 11th regional, Madison jumped ahead 28-8, then — as the Richmond Register stated — they went into a fog. The Purples’ lead dwindled to 30-27.

The fog then lifted and Madison won 34-28. Scoring for the Purples in this effort were Francis 10, Maggard 7, Wiggins and Jennings 6 each, Parrish 4 and Powell 1. As for Bobtown, they lost to Henry Clay 30-13.

In the second regional game Madison upset Oxford, who previously had only lost once that season, by a lopsided 30-15 margin. Bobby Jennings led the locals in scoring.

The headline in the Register on March 13, 1939, read “Purples Win Over Blue Devils And Will Attend State Meet First Time.” Eugene Wiggins was the man of the moment, scoring 13 of Madison’s 25 points in the Purples’ one point, 25-24, victory over Henry Clay. There was a heated argument at the game’s end on whether Madison had fouled a Henry Clay player before or after the game-ending horn sounded. After a discussion of some 25 minutes (no instant replay then), it was ruled that the foul came after the game had ended, thus preserving the Purples’ narrow win. Madison led 14-9 at the half. The Blue devils tied it at 17-17 going into the last quarter. With the score at 19-17 in favor of the Blue Devils, Wiggins scored a field goal and a free throw to put Madison back on top 20-19. Parrish and Francis scored baskets and Wiggins added a free throw and it was 25-22 Madison. After cutting it to 25-24, Henry Clay stole the ball. Then the horn blew and the argument began. Captain Bobby Jennings accepted the winner’s trophy.

According to the Daily Register, the state tournament squad from Madison was made up of Bobby Jennings, Ivan Maggard, Conrad Parrish, Eugene Wiggins, Charles Francis, William Powell, Luther Wilcox, Jimmy O’Donnell, Ralph Haddix and Nathan Moberly. Jennings, Maggard and Parrish made both district and regional all tournament teams. Ralph Carlisle was the Madison coach. He later moved to coach at Lafayette.

In the state tournament, Madison edged out Paducah Tilghman 28-27.

Francis led all scorers with nine points. The Purples led 16-14 going into the last period. The score was tied five times in the final quarter. In the last 15 seconds with Madison up 28-27, the Purples missed three free throws and Paducah missed one. Parrish scored 6, Maggard 5, and Jennings and Williams scored 4 points each.

Against Hindman, Madison jumped in front 12-5 but only led 12-10 when Maggard hit a long shot to make it 14-10 at the half. In the third period, Madison made only one field goal (Parrish) and Hindman led 20-16 going into the last quarter. With Hindman having run up the score to 28-19 with two minutes to go, Coach Carlisle sent in his substitutes — Powell, Haddix, O’Donnell, Wilcox and Moberly. The final score was Hindman 30, Madison 23.

Madison had missed 16 free throws and Maggard made three field goals in the first half.

Brooksville won the state, beating Hindman 32-29 in the final. Herman Hale of Carr Creek and Eastern fame was the winning coach. Copper John Campbell of Hindman made all state. He later starred at Eastern.

Madison also lost in the second round of the state in 1945 and 1947. But the Purples of 1939 were the first to go that late winter season so long ago.

Also playing for the Purples, but not on the state tournament roster, were Blakeman, Richardson, Brandenburg, Hounchell, Million, Ritter and Jones. Many thanks to Glenmore Jones for providing the photograph of the 1939 Madison team.


Dr. Fred Engle




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Dr. Fred Engle, “Madison High and the 1939 State Basketball Tournament,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed March 3, 2024,