Friday, October 31, 2014

Iowa legend brought basketball talents to Sunflower State

By CLINTON DICK, Herald Staff Writer | 3/24/2014

If it wasn’t for his teammates, Lloyd Thornburg wouldn’t be where he is today, he said.

Thornburg, Ottawa, was inducted into the Iowa High School Athletic Association Basketball Hall of Fame March 15 in Des Moines. The Pleasantville High School class of 1966, with which Thornburg graduated, was there to support him, including many of his teammates from his days as an athlete.

If it wasn’t for his teammates, Lloyd Thornburg wouldn’t be where he is today, he said.

Thornburg, Ottawa, was inducted into the Iowa High School Athletic Association Basketball Hall of Fame March 15 in Des Moines. The Pleasantville High School class of 1966, with which Thornburg graduated, was there to support him, including many of his teammates from his days as an athlete.

“I thanked all the other players,” Thornburg said. “If it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t be in this position.”

During his four years as a starter at Pleasantville, Thornburg, who now is retired and lives in Ottawa, gained substantial state recognition in basketball. In his senior year, he led Iowa with 35.5 points per game and 21.8 rebounds per game. He is one of just 18 players in Iowa High School basketball history to have scored more than 1,500 career points and snag more than 1,000 career rebounds with 1,570 points and 1,371 total rebounds. His 415 rebounds during his senior year still ranks 10th all time in Iowa nearly 50 years later. Thornburg also broke the state high jump record during his track career.

Aside from his classmates, Thornburg also was joined by his former high school coach, Harold Isley, who went 60-16 during Thornburg’s Pleasantville career. A friend at the ceremony noted Thornburg’s kindness toward Isley.

“It kind of reminded me of the book ‘Tuesdays With Morrie,’ by Mitch Albom because [Thornburg] helped his coach up to grab his walker so he could hand him what he needed to hand him [for the awards ceremony],” Lisa Harris said.

Before his induction into the hall of fame, Thornburg also met with students at Pleasantville High School, Harris said.

“They had an assembly at the high school where they had the whole school K-12 come,” she said. “It was really nice.”

Though most of the recognition came from his high school career, Thornburg also was recognized for his time as a starter for Centerville Community College in Iowa, and Washburn University in Topeka, where he made a winning tip-in during the 1969 NAIA tournament to help the Ichabods beat No. 1 ranked Fairmont, W.Va.

Thornburg was thankful for the familiar faces during his big weekend, he said, as well as for the honors.

“It seemed like there was something going on all the time,” he said.

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