One of the most amazing performances in City League basketball history was turned in by North sophomore Conner Frankamp on Tuesday night, when he scored a league-record 52 points in a double-overtime loss at Northwest. Frankamp Incredible, considering how many CL games have been played in the 50-plus years of the league’s existence and how many great players have come through. And then the record is smashed by a 6-foot-1 sophomore who made 18 of 38 shots and hit eight three-pointers.
But I need a moment to mourn the passing of this particular record, which had belonged to former South star Ricky Ross for nearly 33 years. On Valentine’s Day night, 1978, the 6-foot-4 Ross scored 47 points during an 87-49 win over Southeast. Yes, he missed scoring as many points as the entire Buffaloes team by two points.
South improved to 16-0 and Ross, just a junior, increased his scoring average to 28.5 points per game. Southeast, obviously, had nobody who could guard him. One of the five players to give it a try on that night was Jim Thomas, currently an assistant coach for Wichita State’s baseball team.
I make no bones about it – Ross is my all-time favorite City League player. The guy was incredible and the story of his basketball life is a compelling one. Despite NBA talent, he never played in the league thanks to a series of questionable decisions after his high school career. But as far as I’m concerned, Ross is the greatest high school player in Kansas history.
During his record-setting performance, Ross added 16 rebounds, made 18 of 24 field-goal attempts and was 11 of 12 from the free-throw line. For good measure, he added four assists and three blocked shots, according to a Wichita Eagle account of the game.
Remember, too, there was no three-point line in those days. And Ross had boundless range. I’ve made attempts today to reach Ricky, to no avail. He’s a difficult man to find. But I’ll keep working on it and hopefully in the next few days get his thoughts on one of the most-hallowed City League records – his record – being broken.
* Today, of course, marks the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s assassination, one of the most senseless acts in history. Early Lennon I made the comment on my Facebook page today that in my opinion, Lennon is the most iconic figure in music history. Of course, that started a pretty interesting debate. Not everybody, obviously, agrees with me. But I believe a lot of people who are close to my age would sign off on that, or at least have him ranked highly among iconic musical figures.
There are so many to choose from. Elvis Presley, for sure. Mozart. Beethoven. If you like that classical stuff. There are others. Some would probably go with Paul McCartney ahead of Lennon and have a valid argument.
I go with Lennon, who was the soul of the Beatles. He gave the group the edge that made it the best in history. And if you want to argue that, then you just like arguing.
Elvis and the Beatles changed music more than any other person or group. Elvis brought the roll to rock. And the Beatles’ versatility – they could do pop and rock with perfection – influenced a generation.
I was devastated by Lennon’s death. I had just covered a Wichita State basketball game when I got news of it, and was driving near 17th and Fairmount on the WSU campus. A few days later, I watched a memorial service for Lennon at my parents’ house in Derby and could not keep from crying. My parents, I’m sure, wondered what all the fuss was about. But even though the Beatles weren’t a part of their generation, I think they respected their music and knew how important Lennon was not only to music, but to the culture.
This is a sad day, but also one that allows us to remember Lennon. And for those who were too young to remember, do some reading. Watch some of the tributes being paid to Lennon on television today. Delve into the history of the Beatles. It’s fascinating stuff.
That said, here are my 10 favorite Lennon songs. Some are from his solo collections; others from his time with the Beatles.
1) Imagine. This has to be at the top of everyone’s Lennon list.
2) In My Life. I could listen to this song all day long, in an endless loop.
3) I Am the Walrus. Twisted. Bizarre. Indecipherable. Classic.
4) Girl. Great, great lyrics.
5) HELP! He wrote this in one day. It’s lasted almost 50 years.
6) Revolution. John on lead guitar. John on lead vocals. John, John, John.
7) Dig a Pony. One of those songs only Lennon could have written.
8) Norwegian Wood. John’s ode to marijuana?
9) Come Together. Something tells me John had a blast writing this song.
10) Jealous Guy. Opening lyrics written for his son, Julian.
My Facebook Friend
Jill Jarsulic Chittum Jill and her man, Adam Jill is one of my all-time favorite co-workers. She’s much younger, so she often looked to me for sage advice. Or never did that. It’s one of the two. Anyway, we would go to lunch occasionally and lament the fact that neither of us was having much luck in the relationship department. That changed for Jill, who is now happily married and off teaching in the Kansas City area. And it changed for me, i.e. my impending marriage. Jill was a very fine photographer and will always be a purple-clad K-State fan. I miss her around the newspaper.
Here are some of Jill’s words:
What I’m doing now: I’m the journalism teacher and publications adviser at Blue Valley High School in Stilwell (or, Stilwell-Blue Valley as all you out-state sports writers call it). We just won the 5A state football championship over Carroll. I’m in my fourth year, and I taught at Derby HS for three years before that. Adam and I live in Shawnee and we love it here! It’s nice for me to be back home, but I do love and miss Wichita and all of my friends there. The eight years I spent in Wichita (five at the Big Bird) really defined me. I miss the daily newspaper gig, but I love working with high school journalists. Every day, they teach me something about myself.
One of my favorite memories of you is the trip to Tulsa to cover WSU basketball back in the day. It was you, Adam Knapp and I in the car. We played the celebrity alphabet name game the ENTIRE trip, and even though I was exhausted by the time we got home around 3 a.m., my face hurt from giggling so much.
One of the first experiences I remember of you is the Survivor-esque media junket the Fiesta Bowl people did for all of us when I was still at K-State. We all thought it was going to be some cool Chuckwagon dinner/campfire home-on-the-range thing, and it ended up being SO COLD and it seemed like they just dropped us in the desert and we were going to be stuck there. You were hilarious. Do you remember that night? You were there with the Tuttles (Jeff and Laura), I think. I was just a college photographer groupie of all you pros.
Yes, I do remember that night. It was amazingly cold, considering we were in Arizona. I was totally unprepared for the weather. A bed never felt better.