In an effort to promote educational athletics by showcasing some of the great teams of past years, the Michigan High School Athletic Association instituted a program called "Legends Of The Games" in 1997, which honored this Coldwater basketball team during the 1999 Finals.

The 1949 MHSAA Class B Boys Basketball Final was both a beginning and an ending.
It was the end of a decade that began to witness a new style of basketball. It also was the beginning of statewide acceptance of that new trend which would forever change the game.
Coldwater High School won the 1949 Class B title, 49-42, over River Rouge at Jenison Field House in East Lansing in a classic game, not only for the play on the court, but for the opposing basketball masterminds pacing the sideline. Coldwater was coached by Floyd Eby, while River Rouge was led that night by Lofton Greene.
The game was a major turning point that proved what Eby was coaching and his players were executing would no longer be considered a fluke.
What Greene learned in that defeat changed River Rouge's basketball focus and earned the school 12 MHSAA titles in the next 35 years.
"Lofton told me that night, and many times after, that we really took it to him," Eby said recently from his home on Cardinal Lane in Coldwater. "He said that he would play our style of basketball from then on."
Eby is not as well known as Greene, and he would rather keep it that way. But, what Eby taught changed basketball forever.
He is credited by numerous sources with introducing and popularizing the fast break, the full-court press, the box-and-one zone defense and the one-handed jump shot (also developed at Stanford University). In the 1940s, that style of play was unheard of, but was quickly labeled "racehorse basketball." The jump shot was developed as players didn't have time to stop and gather their stance for the traditional two-handed set shot. To do so would have defeated the entire purpose of racehorse basketball.
The 1949 title was Eby's second. The first came at the beginning of the decade in 1940 at Class C Williamston, during his rookie season while still a student at Michigan State University. It was at Williamston where the radical new style began, particularly the box-and-one, implemented the first day of practice by accident in an attempt to best utilize personnel. Thus began a decade of jeers, chuckles and disbelief for the "new" game, especially by puzzled fans and officials who couldn't always comprehend what was happening on the court.
Former Detroit Free Press sports writer Hal Schram wrote this about racehorse basketball 10 years later in 1959: "The offensive theory is one of basic simplicity. Get to the basket with the shot that will score as soon as you can. You're only going to sink a certain percentage of your shots anyway, so the more you shoot, the more points you'll score. Organized confusion ­ that's what they called it then."
Coldwater didn't like to hold the ball. But stalling the final 1:20 of the 1949 semifinal game over Grand Rapids Godwin Heights proved to work in a 36-35 win.
"What an exciting time it was to be playing for the state championship before such a huge crowd," Eby wrote in one of his books, Champions Forever. "At the end of the first quarter we were ahead 11-10. Midway through the second, I was stunned when our superstar, Rex Corless (three-time all-stater), sprained an ankle. He was helped to the locker room. At halftime, we were still leading 22-18. The doctor had taped up Corless' ankle. He said Rex could play, but that it would definitely cut his effectiveness.
"Even with his bad ankle and against River Rouge's most talented defenseman, Corless scored 18 points in less than three quarters, which is comparable to 40 points in a game today. (Max) McConnell went in and finished the game in great style. In the first two minutes of the final quarter, we spurted ahead 39-26 and sewed up the game."
Additional members of the team that popularized racehorse basketball were: Gene Fry, Eugene Sowles (co-captain), Lawrence Porter, Tom Engle, Fred Weeks, Marvin Rosenberg, Bernard Hogenboom, James Rhodes, Robert Simmons, and Carlos Clark (manager). Two players and two assistant coaches are now deceased - co-captain LeRoy Cox and Harry Cooper, plus Bert Grigg and Bob Livermore.
While the Cardinal basketball team helped launch a whole new dimension to basketball, it was the lifelong lessons of athletic discipline that helped the 1949 Cardinals lead successful lives. The team produced two dentists, an ordained minister, a teacher and coach, two high-ranking Army Officers, a pharmacist, a university science professor, two high-ranking business executives and three successful businessmen.
They also produced great memories that a small, south central Michigan town has cherished for 50 years, while helping create basketball as it's known around the world today.
--Tom Lang
Tom Lang is a freelance writer for the Detroit Free Press
Remembering The Title Season:
Gene Fry - Guard: "We arrived at Jenison Field House early, because Coach Eby wanted us to see the arena before the fans started to arrive. As we entered the bulding, we were amazed at the enormity of the court, as well as the seating capacity for the spectators. Our entire school could fit into that building."
Robert Simmons - Guard: "I remember the intensity and dedication of each member of the team, and knowing that each of us had to rise to a higher level to beat a very good and well-coached River Rouge team. I am now 66 years old, and the thrill of that day have never left me."
Gene Sowles - Guard & Co-Captain: "I can still see Gene Fry coming from deep under our defensive basket, intercept a pass and dribble the length of the court for the winning basket in out 36-35 win over Grand Rapids Godwin Heights in the semis the previous night. To the man, everyone felt we had won the state that night."
Marvin Rosenberg - Center: "1949 was the year of champions for Coldwater. We were co-champs of the Twin Valley Conference in football and baseball, and were champions in basketball. We were a group who played together from grade school up, before the days of camps and other formal programs"
Bernard Hogenboom - Center/Forward: "The awesome size of the Michigan State field house and the noise of the spectator crowd stand out in my mind. I also remember that Coach Eby wore the same suit and tie that he wore for earlier tournament games ­ his lucky suit."
Rex Corless - Forward/Guard: "The excitement and thrill of winning the "big one" in Jenison Field House stands out, as well as the teamwork, loyalty and respect we had for one another and for Coach Eby."