In 1943, Conway High School got a taste of the spotlight when they played Beaumont in the Missouri State Basketball State Championship game held at Central High School in Springfield. They fell just short of the trophy, taking runner-up.
However, the Bears didn't let it slip away in '45 when they dominated the Central High Bulldogs in Springfield, Mo (42-25) to take home first place. A trophy case display honoring the team that participated in the game greets all who visit Conway High School… and it just got a new accessory.
"This state tournament bracelet is definitely something that will be cherished for years to come by Bears of all ages," said Conway Superintendent, Mark Hedger.
The school received a letter with an extra sentimental charm "bracelet" on Thursday, Jan. 21 from James Dodson, who’s father and his father’s siblings attended Conway Schools over 70 years ago.
"James found it in his dad's belongings, but to his knowledge his dad had never played basketball in high school," Hedger explained.
According to the letter, Dodson wasn't exactly sure how his father came to possess the chain, so he wanted the school to check and see who it may have belonged to and display it with the trophy from the 1945 state championship trophy. Dodson mentioned in the letter that his father had siblings who could have played basketball, one of which was named Doyle Dodson.
"We found Doyle Dodson in the state championship team picture displayed in the entrance of the school and we were able to determine that it did belong to his uncle," said Hedger. "The bracelet itself reflects participation in the 1943 Missouri State Basketball Tournament and the 1945 Missouri State Championship team. But he said in the letter that it would be best for the bracelet to be held by the school."
Hedger said the school contacted James Dodson after discovering the chain’s origin and told him the chain did in fact belong to his Uncle Doyle Dodson. Obviously, the chain is rightfully the property of the Dodson family, so the school told James they would be happy to display it alongside the trophy and photo or they offered to send it back.
"He appreciated that we asked, but since his uncle had been gone for 60 years he felt like the school was the rightful place for it to be," Hedger said.
The bracelet is composed of a chain and three basketballs. The two basketballs outside represent the two years the team played in the state tournament, reading 1943 and 1945 on each ball. The center basketball reads State Champs 1945. The chain sits alongside the trophy, in front of the photo commemorating the champion Bears and placed just in front of its original owner.