50 Years Later: Joplin High School 1967 State Champions

Former state champions celebrate their time as Eagles

JOPLIN, Mo. - "In my life I really enjoyed the two years I was here in Joplin." -Thorpe Weber, 1967 Joplin Basketball State Champion.

The key to success for the 1967 state championship basketball team at Joplin High School came to them in the form of 6'7" Thorpe Weber from New Hampshire.

"My dad retired from the Air Force, and I was use to moving all the time," said Weber. "When you are in the Air Force, you travel every two years, so it was something different for my dad and we were excited about coming down to Joplin because my grandmother lived in Lamar, Missouri, so it was just a good thing for me to move here."

It wouldn't take long for Thorpe and his new teammates, like James Rhea, to bond.

"We knew the schools out of Springfield were very strong, especially Parkview out of Springfield was a very strong program," said Rhea. "We didn't know how we would compete and then we got news, what ends up being Thorpe enrolls and it didn't take long for that word to get around."

The Eagles would march their way to the state title game led by Weber only to meet undefeated and defending Missouri Class L Champs, Kansas City Central.

"When we got up there, it was a situation that was kind of different for us. On our team we probably had two players that could dunk the ball and one that wished he could. When we looked down at the other end they had twelve players and eleven of them dunked the ball and two or three of them dunked two balls at once at the end," said Weber about the Eagles opponents in the state championship game.

Rhea added, "on Friday night after we had beat Lindbergh and we had watched a little bit of the game between Kansas City Central and, I believe it was, St. Louis Beaumont, I was kind of overwhelmed by the athleticism I saw. What I remember more than anything was Thorpe going 'we can beat 'em'."

The Eagles would prevail courtesy of a 13-point comeback and outscoring their opponents 7 to 2 in overtime.

Weber would continue his career at Vanderbilt while Rhea went on to play at Pitt State and now 50 years later the two are able to reunite on the new hardwood of Joplin High.

With the high school basketball season approaching this season will be one to remember just like that state championship season that shocked the area back in 1967.


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