When Jack Taylor of Division III Grinnell scored 138 points last week against Faith Baptist Bible he did more than erase a record.He brought back memories of the great Bevo Francis.
Taylor’s 138 points in Grinnell’s 179-104 victory broke Bevo’s record of 113 points against Hillsdale (Mich.) College in February 1954 at Jackson (Ohio) High School.
However, that wasn’t even Bevo’s best scoring game. That came against Ashland Junior College on January 9, 1953 when he scored 116 at Community Hall on the Rio Grande campus. That remains on the record books as the NAIA record. It was once the NCAA record too but the organization later decided it would only recognize games against institutions that granted four-year degrees, which AJC did not.
Bevo’s game against AJC brought his scoring mark to 50.7 points per game. He made 47 field goals and 22 free throws. Remember, of course, there was no 3-point shot. Here’s an amazing fact from that game: Bevo scored 55 points in the last 10 minutes after putting only “only” 61 through the first 30 minutes. No other Rio Grande player scored more than a dozen.
Rio Grande went 39-0 in the 1952-53 season, Bevo’s freshman year, while averaging 50.1 points per game. Francis arrived as an unknown but soon took the team to national prominence.
They went on the road for 17 consecutive games after Bevo’s outburst against AJC, playing in several large arenas throughout the eastern United States.
The night after the big game with AJC, Rio Grande played Mayo State Vocational at Paintsville High School. Bevo scored 63 points in a 119-91 victory to set the scoring record at the Paintsville High gym that still stands today. J.R. VanHoose, a sports historian in the Big Sandy area, reported that story on our website a few weeks ago.
Rio Grande had a rematch with Ashland later in the season and the Redmen won the game although Bevo didn’t come close to the century mark. AJC “recruited” former Russell High School star “Long” John Thomas to defend him. They enrolled Thomas in classes and immediately got him working with the team.
Rio Grande broke the 100-point mark in 23 games and averaged 101.1 points per game while holding foes to 68.2. They won 39 consecutive games in that 1952-53 season.
Bevo was an AP All-American and he established NAIA records for field goals (708), free throws (538), points (1,953) and average (50.1).
Bevo came with coach Newt Oliver to Rio Grande after only one season of high school varsity basketball at Wellsville, Ohio. He averaged 32 points per game. Oliver had played at Rio Grande and was offered the job so he could bring Bevo to the school with him.
Bevo left after two years at Rio Grande to play professionally. He scored 3,272 points and the Redmen were 60-7 in his remarkable two seasons. Bevo outscored entire teams nine times in his career and never fouled out of a game; Oliver had told him to lay back on defense.
Oliver and Bevo signed a package deal with the Boston Whirlwinds, the touring team that played the Harlem Globetrotters.
When Taylor scored 138 points last week, he made 27 of 71 3-point attempts, was 52 of 108 overall from the field and added seven free throws on 10 attempts in 36 minutes.
Bevo would be proud.
MARK MAYNARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2648.