It’s basketball playoff season and Black History Month, and residents of the Marshall County town of Culver will celebrate both at 10:30 AM on Saturday, February 24, with the dedication of a new historical marker near the intersection of School Street and Lake Shore Drive.  One side of the traditionally-styled blue and gold sign commemorates the state’s 113 point all-time record individual high score in a single game, while the other recognizes the integrated basketball teams the local high school fielded just over a century ago. Local historian the Very Rev. John Houghton, Ph.D., who organized the fund-raising campaign, expressed thanks to the Culver Historical Society, which provided administrative assistance, the Culver Community Schools Building Trades Program, which installed the sign, and the Town Board, which allowed the sign to be set up in the right of way.

The marker stands near the entrance to the current elementary school, but that’s a coincidence. “We didn’t have a gym back in those days,” Houghton said.  “These games were played in Captain Crook’s Hall, in what’s now an apartment building over on Pearl Street—but that didn’t seem like a great place to put up a sign.”

Herman Earl Sayger (1895-1970) was only a junior when he made his record score in a March 8, 1913, game against a badly overmatched Winamac team (final result, 154-10). Born in Jonesboro, Arkansas,  Sayger had come to Culver as a six-year old orphan to live with his aunt, Mary Medbourn. After his senior year at the public school (during which he averaged 29.5 points per game), and appointment to the 1914 All-State basketball team, he was a multi-sport post-graduate at Culver Military Academy. He was an outstanding athlete at Heidelberg University in Ohio, where he later served as head football coach and athletic director. In March of 1932, he organized an exhbition basketball game with proposed new rules, including the three point shot and not having a jump ball after each basket. He also invented a system of hand signals for use by football officials. The Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame inducted him to membership in 2015.

Charles Wesley Wade, Jr. ’23 (1905-1944) and Palmer Deane Whitted ’24 (1907-1982) integrated the town basketball team in 1921. Wade became a postal employee in Chicago and was killed while working at a part time job. Whitted earned an MA at the University of Michigan, taught in high schools and colleges, operated a noted mortuary in Oakland, California, and worked as a PR agent for the Raiders football team. His son was a TV actor under the name Palmer Deane. Whitted’s brother, David Winslow Whitted, joined the team the next year, and went on to play for Coach Sayger at Heidelberg; his family lives in New Orleans.