Fulton High School has long been a dominant basketball power. One of their first good teams was in 1928, and by 1936, they reached the Elite 8 at the state tournament.
Around 1953, they began a run of more than 20 years of excellent teams and reached the state tournament two more times. One factor was the abundance of very tall and powerful players. Another was the community’s interest in this sport. Their families and fans seemed to generate a strong following and attitude that carried them through years of success.
No doubt that we will leave out many players and teams from the past. So, for a more extensive depiction, I refer you to two fine books of records available at the Fulton Historical Museum or from Arnie Housenga. Also, Mike Woods of the famous Woods boys is contemplating a book on the subject. He previews his views when he says, “I believe that sports is a reflection of our society and is, therefore, affected by the political, economic, and social issues that exist at the time.”
In other words, there’s much more to sports than games, stars and statistics.
Woods makes another point about one of Fulton’s modern-era founding fathers, saying, “I watched Arnie Housenga during the ‘52-’53 and ‘53-’54 seasons, and he was one of the very best. He was one of the top career scorers in Fulton’s history, at 5-feet-9-inches. He was a great shooter at a time when the ‘jump shot’ was just beginning to come into its own. And he never got his due, in my opinion.”
The homogenous community of Fulton had been founded by hard-working pioneers and later, Dutch immigrants carried on a society that was very oriented toward work and success.
Along with this, these new Americans brought a healthy stock of tall, bright and competitive people. As education and schools increasingly dominated their small community, it was only natural that their competitive spirit exhibited itself in school activities. While they were involved in all activities, it was basketball that captured their imagination and challenged them to excel in this fast-paced sport.