March Madness is fast approaching and local high school basketball teams are fighting to get to the state tournament.
The first boys’ basketball team to win a state tournament for Davenport High School (now Central High School) was in 1913. The Red and Blue, as they were then called, beat the team from Sioux City, Iowa 34 to 18. Davenport High School was one of eight teams selected to compete in the two-day tournament held in Iowa City.
The start of the Davenport High School 1928 – 1929 school year brought in a new teacher and basketball coach. Mr. Paul C. Moon was an instructor in Bookkeeping that would also be taking over coaching responsibilities for basketball. He promised to introduce new plays to the team and that they would go far. He was absolutely correct.
With a new gym planned for Davenport High School, the basketball team practiced and held games at J. B. Young Intermediate School that season. Their first game was held on December 14, 1928, in the J. B. Young gym against Washington High School from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Coach Moon’s team was young with only three returning players who had lettered previously. Those three were Captain Robert Loufek, Paul McClanahan, and Henry Dahl. Dahl would be a mid-year graduate so the younger players would need to step up quickly on this team.
The regular season ended on February 23, 1929, by beating Muscatine High School 28-19 at J. B. Young’s gym. The Blue and Red ended the season 12 – 4.
Next were sectionals. First up was Wapello High School and Davenport easily beat them 66 to 18.
Sectionals continued with Davenport High School once again overcoming Muscatine High School in a riveting close game 26-23. Sectionals was won and now it was on to District.
From 650 high school teams down to 83 fighting to go on to State in the District finals.
It was tough, but with a win over Parnell High School 34 to 31; the Davenport High School basketball team was on to State!
State playoffs were held in Iowa City as the University of Iowa had the largest basketball arena in the state of Iowa. Davenport’s Red and Blue first faced Ottumwa High School in the first round of the State playoffs. The game went into overtime with the Red and Blue coming out as the winner with a final score of 24 – 22.
Semi-Finals saw Davenport High School meeting Sioux City East. It was another close game. The final score was Davenport with a win of 23 – 21. All that was left was the final Championship game.
The Red and Blue defeated Des Moines Roosevelt High School 26 – 21 in the Championship game. Coach Moon had not lied. He managed to bring a young team together with hard work and new skills. The entire city of Davenport celebrated their victory.
Coach Paul Moon stayed at Davenport High School until he retired in 1954. For 26 years he dedicated his talents to the basketball program. With his teams, he won state titles in 1929, 1930, 1941, 1947, 1950, 1951, and 1952.
Coach Moon also helped create the mascot for Davenport High School. Along with students Bill Rivkin and Lenvil Simmons, Coach Moon led the effort to adopt the Blue Devil as the school mascot (which it still is today as the Davenport Central Blue Devils) in 1935. This replaced the nicknames of Red and Blue and Hill Toppers which were used previously.
One can only imagine the pride Coach Moon and all of the players from 1929 felt as they remembered the legacy they helped to create with a little trust in the new coach and the unusual skills he brought with him.
(posted by Amy D.)