Henry Logan

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Henry Logan

Postby rlee » Thu Nov 25, 2010 6:24 pm

Stephens-Lee High: Led by star trio to title
by David Scott

http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/11/25/ ... title.html

They called it the "Castle On The Hill," an imposing, three-story school building nestled into a mountainside in Asheville.

The school's actual name was Stephens-Lee High, Asheville's black high school from 1922 until 1965. All that remains today is the gymnasium. The rest of the school's buildings was demolished long ago.

That gym was the site of many of Stephens-Lee's greatest sports moments, played out by athletes few of whom - because of the nature of those segregated times - would be known beyond Asheville's black community.

But the Bears' 1962 state basketball championship team would provide an exception.

That year, led by one of the great players in North Carolina history, Stephens-Lee traveled to Greensboro to beat Winston-Salem's Atkins High 66-59 for the state's black 4A championship.

The team was made up of several college-caliber players, none taller than 6 feet 3 but each with an accurate shooting eye and great leaping ability.

"That team had so many really good players, and the key was they all played their role," said Johnny Bailey, a player on the Bears' junior varsity that year.

What made the Bears special, however, were their core players - forward Bennie Lake, forward Willie Maples and especially a skinny 5-10 guard named Henry Logan.

As Bailey would later write: "(Logan) played in a zone only the gods would approve of."

Asheville's finest

In 1962, Stephen-Lee had a special basketball team. Coached by C.L. Moore (the father of former Johnson C. Smith basketball coach Bob Moore), the Bears traveled all over the southeast to play. With no schools to play around Asheville, the Bears spent weeks out of town, playing games in Tennessee, Wilmington and Charlotte.

The Bears racked up the victories wherever they went, led many nights by the trio of Lake, Maples and Logan.

Maples and Logan, however, were the team's unquestioned leaders. Maples challenged his teammates to be better, often directing his criticism at the supremely talented Logan.

"They were like Ali and Frazier," said Bailey. "But also Henry was [Michael] Jordan to Willie's [Scottie] Pippen. Neither would give in. In essence, they really complemented each other."

After winning the state championship in 1962, the Bears - thanks to Logan - began to attract more attention. When Logan and Maples were seniors in 1964, Stephens-Lee games were moved to the Asheville Civic Center.

"White people heard about us and wanted to watch us play," Logan said.

By that time, some Bears players had attracted the attention of black colleges in the Carolinas. Lake would attend Shaw. Maples said he had a scholarship offer from N.C. A&T.

"In those days, you couldn't have too many blacks go on, if you know what I mean," Bailey said. "(Colleges) would come in and pick one from the team. The door was only going to be open for one at a time."

Logan was the one at Stephens-Lee.

Major opportunity

Western Carolina coach Jim Gudger saw Logan play a game at the Civic Center and, astounded at his talent, offered him a scholarship.

"My mama wanted me to stay home and break the color barrier at Western," said Logan said.

Logan elected to go to Western Carolina, where he embarked on a remarkable career.

Although North Carolina's Charlie Scott was the first black player to star at an ACC school in the south when he started his varsity career in 1967, Logan is generally considered to be the first to star at a predominantly white university in the southeast.

Logan averaged 30.7 points in his four-year career with the Catamounts, who were then in the small-college NAIA.

Logan had jumping ability that was comparable to future N.C. college stars David Thompson and Michael Jordan.

"That's what they say," Logan said. "God blessed me with having great hang time. I'd be up there for a long period of time. It scared me sometimes."

One of Logan's opponents was Lenoir-Rhyne's Neill McGeachy, now the school's athletics director.

"He was a dynamic player, the likes of which we had never seen," said McGeachy said. "He was a great shooter, but he had that lift that got him to the basket."

McGeachy recalled Logan pulling up for a jump shot over another Lenoir-Rhyne player.

"He said he could read Henry's shoe size on the bottoms of those Converse Chuck Taylors (shoes)," said McGeachy said. "He ran over to me and sad said, 'Geach, you can guard Henry now.'"

Breaking the color barrier at Western Carolina was not stressful for him, Logan said. The biggest problem Logan encountered was not being permitted to play in a tournament in Lafayette, La., in 1964.

Drafted by the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics in 1968, he instead played two seasons in the American Basketball Association because the Oakland Oaks offered him $5,000 more than the Sonics. He played two seasons with the Oaks (playing with Charlotte Bobcats coach Larry Brown) and Washington Caps.

Logan said he fell victim to a lifestyle that comes with pro basketball. Drinking and partying too much, he gained 50 pounds - from 175 pounds to 225 - in one year.

He came down awkwardly on his knee in a game with Washington. The injury ended his career.

"I got all that money and didn't use it right," Logan said. "I wasn't taking care of my body, didn't make the sacrifices and that's where the trouble started. I wouldn't have hurt my knee if I'd been doing the right thing."

After working more than 30 years as a recreation director in Memphis, Tenn., Marion, N.C., and Black Mountain, Logan is retired in Asheville. He was voted into the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 2000, joined that year by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson.

"That was fantastic, it was the best feeling I ever had," Logan said.

Lost chance

Willie Maples, who turned down the offer from N.C. A&T, felt his basketball future would be best served by going directly to the pros. He tried out for the ABA's Kentucky Colonels. He was cut, he said, after outplaying other higher-profile (and white) guards who complained that the team shouldn't sign an unknown player ahead of them.

After being cut from several other pro teams, Maples said he ended up playing for the Harlem Globetrotters for eight years and then the Harlem Clowns for several more years. After he stopped playing, he lived what he says was a care-free life in several cities, including San Francisco, Acapulco, Mexico and St. Petersburg, Fla. He, too, has retired to Asheville.

Maples has been arrested multiple times over the years on charges including DWI, public intoxication, assault and shoplifting. His most recent arrest came in 2001.

"By the grace of God, I am OK as a person now," Maples said. "I have my life straightened out."


When Johnny Bailey was in elementary school, his older brother Joe Chandler - a star Bears football player in the late 1950s - would walk through the neighborhood, asking businesses to donate money to help Stephens-Lee buy equipment and uniforms for the athletic teams.

"He couldn't (raise the money), and I remember he stood right in front of us and cried," Bailey said.

"I knew at that time that it would be my destiny to make sure that all those people who helped Stephens-Lee be the best school it could be would get their due."

Bailey eventually would co-author a book with Bennie Lake called "The Greatest Sports Heroes of the Stephens-Lee Bears."

Logan, Maples and Bailey remain close friends and live close to each other in Asheville. Lake died earlier this year in Durham.

Logan, now 65, still appreciates the opportunity he was given by Western Carolina.

"If some of my teammates had a chance to go schools like they do now, a lot of them would have made the pros or been big-time in college," he said. "If they could have had that chance, that's what would have happened."
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