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Racine Horlick Alumni 1965

While it was not the Class of '65 that went to the state basketball tournament, we were in our sophomore year, when the Class of '63 did go. While I know we are well past this year's version of "March Madness," I thought it might not hurt to memorialize in our website the shot by Gary Pinnow heard round the State at that tournament. The Racine Journal Times recently remembered that shot of 50 years ago (Good grief, are we really that old???). Here's a copy of that article as reprinted from the newspaper...
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PETER JACKEL: Pinnow's shot remembered 50 years later

Seventeen years before Al Michaels exuberantly asked his gasping audience whether they believed in miracles, Andy Shovers witnessed one that also has withstood the passing of time.

It was March 14, 1963 and Shovers, a Horlick High School sophomore at the time, was among 12,898 energized fans seated in the University of Wisconsin Field House at Madison. Horlick was playing in the state boys basketball tournament for just the second time since 1930 — two years after the school opened — but no way was it going to stick around for long.

Just six weeks earlier, the Rebels were 4-7 in the Big Eight Conference after a second close loss to Park. As for Milwaukee North, Horlick’s quarterfinal opponent, it was 23-0, ranked No. 1 in the state and loaded with some of the most elite talent in the state.

“They had beaten most of their opponents by large margins,” said Shovers, an attorney for the law firm Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP in Atlanta. “Their coach had them do a Globetrotter-type routine during warmups, which intimidated their opponents to the point they were beaten before the game started.”

Remarkably, though, Jack Belden’s Rebels stayed with this juggernaut. And then Gary Pinnow, a senior guard for Horlick who would be named Racine’s City Player of the Year that season, earned a permanent, prominent place in this county’s sports heritage.

Wilbert Fair made a long jump shot with 13 seconds left in the second overtime to put North up 50-49. And then the late Steve Klimek frantically passed to Pinnow, who dribbled to the opposite side of the circle and swished a twisting

18-foot jumper at the buzzer as stunned fans erupted in hysteria.

“Pinnow’s shot might have been the biggest single moment in Racine County sports history,” said Shovers, who has lived in Atlanta for 44 years. “It has to be the most exciting. North was considered unbeatable.

“The field house erupted when the shot went in. I have been fortunate to attend many exciting sports events over the years, but that moment remains the best and most thrilling.”

The magic ended that night for Horlick, which went on to lose to eventual champion Manitowoc in the semifinals and Eau Claire in the third-place game. But the moment lives on after a half century.

Quite simply, Pinnow might be this county’s version of Bobby Thomson, whose walkoff home run for the New York Giants in a 1951 playoff game against the Brooklyn Dodgers endures as one of the signature moments in sports history.

Just as the Giants didn’t go on to win the World Series, Horlick also didn’t capture the ultimate prize. But just as we remember Thomson for his “shot heard ’round the world,” we also remember Pinnow.

And as the 50th anniversary of Pinnow’s feat approaches — it’s Thursday, which is also the day of the week he made his famous shot — he pensively reflected on the fleeting few seconds that defined his life.

Wearing a gray Wisconsin T-shirt in the William Street home he has shared for the last 28 years with Kathy Vinnes, the 67-year-old Pinnow is somewhat feeble. He suffers memory lapses from a stroke he suffered in early 2012 and only recently found relief from unrelenting back misery with a pain pump.

But there was no forgetting his moment.

“There were five seconds left and they got the ball to me at midcourt,” Pinnow said. “I was going to go the right because that’s the way I normally dribbled, but all the players were in that area.

“So I went to my left and, at about the top of the key, I took a fadeaway jump shot and it was all net.”

All but lost in history is the story behind Horlick’s late-season revival. Pinnow won’t go into specifics, but he insists the Rebels started rolling after he got into a fist-fight with a teammate in the snow on the east end of Horlick just before practice.

The issue? A girl.

“We got into a fight over it, he got kicked off the team and, from then on, we just seemed to click,” Pinnow said. “The team thought, ‘We lost one of our good players and we’re going to have to make up for it.’ ”

Obscured by Pinnow’s heroics is that he is one of the finest athletes in this county’s history. He earned nine letters at Horlick, went on to be a defensive back and kicker for the Wisconsin football team and played baseball with George Foster and Steve Stone in the San Francisco Giants’ farm system in 1969. He also once averaged 290 as a bowler, was a 12-handicap golfer and played on seven straight city softball championships in Racine during the 1970s.

But what endures more than anything is “the shot.”

“I think people my age who read the sports section remember that shot and I think they always will,” Pinnow said.

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