November 30, 2020

Unique moments in Webster Athletics: backboard breaks, lights go out in Grant Gymnasium

The Webster University men’s basketball team has had some odds games in its history — with both good and bad outcomes.

In warm-ups before the 2005 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship game against Blackburn College (Ill.), one of the Blackburn players went up for a dunk and shattered the backboard. It was broken in a way that made it impossible for it to be used for the game, and it needed to be fixed. Webster didn’t have a matching backboard, and needed to find a way to make it work. The game was an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Division III tournament, so the game had to be played.

GRAPHIC BY EMILY RATKEWICZ

Tom Hart, Webster director of athletics, said that they realized the backboard had broken at 5 p.m., and the game was scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

“There weren’t any physical plant people,” Hart said. “You can’t get ahold of them on a Saturday night, so we’ve got parents and students and all sorts of people trying to put this backboard up. But because it was the wrong backboard it was the wrong kind of rim.”

Hart said it took four-and-a-half hours to take down the existing board, and a board from one of the side baskets. Then they had to put that backboard up where the old basket was, and put the rim back on. The game eventually started at 9:30 p.m.. Most of the fans stuck around, but the Gorloks ended up dropping the game by a final score of 65-52.

“It’s a great story if you win the game, but we lost the game,” Hart said. “ It was a huge mess. The only saving grace is that now teams are nnot allowed on the floor until an hour before game time — which is the NCAA rule.”

Before Webster’s backboard-breaking experience against Blackburn, the Gorloks found great fortune against Maryville University (Mo.), a former SLIAC member who moved to Division II Great Lakes Valley Conference in fall of 2009 .

Hart was coaching the Gorloks men’s basketball team in 1994. He said the lights went out in the second half and resulted in a 20-minute delay before play was able to resume. The Gorloks were trailing in the game before the power went out. Hart said after the lights went back on, the Gorloks went on a 20-0 run and won the game.

“Steve Jarvis (then-Maryville coach) to this day talks about the lights going out, and I’m not sure they scored another point the rest of the way,” Hart said. “It was a very odd game.”

GRAPHIC BY VICTORIA COURTNEY

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