Shelbyville Daily Union
---- — Barney Melvin, along with his brother Kenny and four others, will be inducted into the Taylorville High school Sports Hall of Fame at a banquet to be held Saturday, May 10, in the auditorium of Taylorville Memorial Hospital at 6:30 p.m.
Melvin’s first exposure to organized basketball was in 1937-38 at Memorial Junior High School in Taylorville where, as a 7th grade student, he made the starting lineup on the undefeated 7th grade team. The following season, his 8th grade team again went undefeated with Melvin again making the starting lineup.
As a 5’6” freshman guard at Taylorville during the 1940-41 basketball season, Melvin was selected by storied Coach Dolph Stanley as a varsity starter to open the season because of his ball handling and leadership skills. However, following the fourth game of the season, Coach Stanley chose another route for his promising guard. Recognizing the potential of a talented freshman team, Melvin was asked and agreed to continue the season with fellow freshmen Johnny Orr, Ron Bontemps, Pete Meredith, and his brother Kenny Melvin as they achieved an undefeated season.
The following season, 1941-42, sophomore Melvin became the starting guard on the varsity and contributed 210 points and many assists to help lead the tornadoes to a 28-5 season, and a South Central Conference Championship, but falling to Decatur in the Sectional Finals 40-38.
The 1942-43 Taylorville Tornadoes won 28 of 31 games and the South central Conference title for the third consecutive year. Winning their first eight games by an average of 25 points a game, Taylorville earned a state ranking as high as fifth best team in the state. The highlight of the season was a win at Paris over the eventual state champion. Following leading scorer Ron Bontemps, Melvin, captain of the team, scored 290 points for an average of 9.4 points per game, followed by LeRoy Walker, Johnny Orr, and brother Kenny. However, more important to the team, as Coach Stanley frequently pointed out, was the fact that he averaged roughly 14 assists per game.
In the summer of 1943, as his senior year approached, Melvin, along with his brother Kenny and other classmates, enlisted in military service thereby forfeiting his senior year and an opportunity to play on the eventual state championship team.
Following two years of service in the U.S. Navy and later high school graduation, Melvin played the 1945-46 season on scholarship as starting guard for Arkansas State College. As an adult, Melvin continued to play basketball on several independent teams including Shelbyville Moose Lodge, International Harvester, and the Shelbyville All Stars.
Melvin, who last year, along with Shelbyville resident Dean Rothrock, was recognized as Shelbyville’s greatest sports fan, began watching Shelbyville grade and high school sporting events from 1949 and continues to do so today.
The public is invited to attend the banquet and share in honoring Melvin and the other fine athletes. Tickets may be purchased or reserved by calling Dave Hixenbaugh at 217-824-4951.
A reception/open house honoring Melvin for his achievement and his recent 90th birthday will be held Sunday, May 11, 1-3 p.m. at the Villas of Holly Brook in Shelbyville.