Jamie Johnson – You Tube Video

Jamie Johnson is an Upshur County special education teacher

(11-21-17) – In January it will be 58 years since Danny Heater scored a national record 135 points in a single high school boys basketball game. The record still stands today, the game was on January 26th, 1960 in the tiny West Virginia community of Burnsville, when the Bruins would pick up a 173-43 win over Widen (Clay County).

Danny Heater shooting

Heater was 53 of 70 from the field and 29 of 41 from the free throw line, there was no 3-point line in 1960. Heater would also add 32 rebounds and had 7 assists.

The setting-

  • 200 or so people- no bleachers, just a few benches
  • ceiling was so low in the basement gym
  • 30 by 50 feet-17 feet shorter than a standard court
  • no scoreboard on the wall

BOX SCORE

Widen (43)
F – Craft 1, Hamrick 10, James 2.
C – Barnett 20.
G – Napier 5, Eagle 2

Burnsville (173)
F – Heater 135, Conrad 12, Graff 2.
C – Smith 16.
G – Cayton 6, Brooks 2.

Score by quarters:

Widen		 4	13	15	11	 43
Burnsville	41	34	44	54	173

Heater told the West Virginia Gazette-Mail a few years ago –

“I’ve always had a hard time dealing with it. I’m proud of it in some ways and in some ways I’m embarrassed about it. It’s conflicting emotions.”

Coach Jack Stalnaker has some of the same after-thoughts about the game:

“After we had played the game and scored all those points, as a coach I was rather ashamed and for years never talked about it to anyone. But now I’m getting a look back and I wonder how the kid did that.”

Stalnaker’s main reason to allow Heater to score 135 points?  He was hoping to get some attention for Heater who wanted to attend West Virginia University after he graduated, the Bruins didn’t get to much coverage from the area newspapers.

The story of Danny Heater has a lot in common with the movie ‘Hoosiers‘, it has a real story, about a real person, a real coach and team.  Many would say that these types of stories last forever, when playing for your high school was an honor.

In today’s world of social media it’s not unusual to be able to see pictures or videos of numerous high school sporting events every night, high school games in a majority of  sports are video-taped (Hudl). In 1960 at Burnsville there was no newspaper or radio coverage of the game, no photographers were photographing the game.  All that is left is the memories, that’s ok it makes that much more enjoyable.

The Ballad of Danny Heater

Coach Jack Stalnaker-

“He never wanted to show off because he was afraid he wouldn’t do it right. He’s always been a worrier. In practice, he’d lead on the fast break, he’d dribble between his legs, he’d look the other way and lay it up there. He could knock you down with a chest pass … But he wouldn’t do it in a game. I don’t know, just because he didn’t want to show off, I’ve always thought. His own inner self has kept him from . . . “

The Night Danny Heater Scored 135 Points in a High School Basketball Game

Danny Heater-

“I’m shy by nature and don’t like the spotlight, so I went to each player on our team and asked them if they were cool with the plan. If a single one of them said no, I wouldn’t have gone along with it,. They all said yes… And the rest is history.”

Plan For Heater Worked, Wanted Publicity For Scholarship

Coach Jack Stalnaker-

“But we decided in advance that we had to do something to get him (Heater) some publicity. A scholarship is the only way he could ever go to college. That’s the only reason we ran up the score.”

Burnsville HS
Burnsville HS, is Burnsvilles Elementary

Burnsville High School is no longer in session (since 1969) and joined with two other small high schools, Sutton and Gassaway, students from all three schools now attend Braxton County High School. The building that Heater scored the 135 points, the Burnsville HS, is now an elementary school in the Braxton County School system. The gym is still there.

 

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