WHS basketball’s forgotten Cinderella story retold 50 years later

Following numerous seasons being overshadowed by the football program, the WHS basketball team rose to prominence during the 1971-1972 season. This team produced one of the most remarkable sports Cinderella stories ever written.

Stephen Reddy, class of ‘72, and former Westfield basketball star, recently published his book, A Ball with No Points. While it primarily focuses on Westfield’s state championship run, it is also a memoir that documents the importance of basketball in Reddy’s life. Every chapter in the story details the team’s success throughout the season, describing what it took to win the only boys basketball state championship in school history. 

Reddy had always wanted to tell the story of his senior season, and following a reunion in early 2018, he rekindled the memories with his old teammates that gave him a new incentive to write the book.

“It was driven by the passage of time. Now 50 years since that season, I think that myself and my teammates all appreciated more of what happened back then. It was also driven by the fact that [the story] hasn’t really been duplicated, which made it more special over time,” said Reddy in an exclusive interview with Hi’s Eye.

While it was Reddy’s first publication, he was able to write the book with efficiency and determination. He started in July of 2019 and the whole process from start to finish took about 27 months.

Due to the fact that the notable 71-72 season took place 50 years ago, Reddy faced the challenge of recovering past newspapers and game footage to retell the details of his games accurately. 

A major focus of the work is the basketball team’s championship season taking place during the prime of Gary Kehler’s legendary football coaching career, highlighted by a state record of 48 straight games without a loss. “The football team’s success was definitely a big deal to the town and everybody felt it… We felt this year was [the basketball team’s] chance, we could make an impact and that’s what everyone felt going into the season,” said Reddy. 

During the ‘60’s and ‘70’s the town of Westfield witnessed the football team dominate any opponent that was put in front of them. Throughout this time the basketball team managed to maintain an average record, however, they were never known to be a powerhouse in New Jersey. To the surprise of many, WHS shocked not only Westfield residents, but basketball fans across the state during the 71-72 season.

Although the team started the year unranked, mid-season, they were able to reach number one in the Star-Ledger state rankings poll. Reddy said, “At one point midway through the season, we were still unbeaten and had surprised everyone up to that point. However, the day the rankings came out, our coach threw us out of practice after about 45 minutes because he said there was too much goofing around and cockiness amongst the players, which in the end, was smart on his part to put us in our places early in the season.”

A Ball with No Points documents the journey of the 1971-1972 WHS basketball team during their illustrious championship run. The positive camaraderie, sense of family and hard work were all major contributions to the victorious season.  The book can be purchased at The Town Bookstore in Westfield, the website aballwithnopoints.com or other online book retailers.