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The Cats went on to defeat Los Alamitos Naval Air Station (73-62) and Grihalva Buick (63-55), both of California, for titles in 19, respectively.With the addition of 6-foot-9-inch Bert Born, a member of the Kansas Jayhawks' 1952 NCAA national champion and MVP of the 1953 Final Four for a national runner-up, Peoria added another AAU national title in 1958 with a 74-71 four-overtime classic over the Denver-Chicago Truckers. 1 overall choice of the 1959 draft, Bob Boozer, an All-American from Kansas State, spurned Cincinnati's pro franchise to play in Peoria, the Cats tacked on their last championship.So near the Iron Curtain, Bontemps said, the mood of the championship was somber."It was a little tense," Bontemps said of a gold-medal game the Americans won by a 36-25 score.Basketball became part of the employee activities program in 1937 and the Cat Diesels became a charter member of the NIBL in 1947.
That's when Cat plant manager Jim Monroe made easily the best move in Peoria's AAU program.We would go out to eat at Big John's BBQ after the games a lot. On a last-second shot by Williams, Peoria beat NCAA champion Kansas to win the trials at Madison Square Garden in New York.I never forgot those nights at Big John's." International Cats By virtue of its 1952 AAU national championship, the Cats earned a berth to the U. Olympic Trials tournament, which paired the top eight AAU and NCAA tournament teams against each other in order to decide the U. In just his second season as coach, Womble had succeeded in preventing Kansas legend Forrest "Phog" Allen from being an Olympic head coach, a post he had sought since the game was introduced in the Olympics in 1936.The Cat Diesels placed among the top four only twice - a third in 1949 and a fourth in 1951.However, Peoria would turn a corner without knowing it in 1948 with the acquisition of an obscure 29-year-old guard from Southeastern State College in Oklahoma named Womble.