Ebarb High School made its first appearance in a state championship basketball game in 1969, dropping a 60-59 decision to Maurepas.
The All-State stars of that Ebarb team were juniors Greg Procell and Walter “Tootsie Roll” Meshell. A year later, Procell set national scoring records as Coach Kenneth Hebert’s Ebarb Rebels wrapped up a 56-12 season with an 89-88 victory over Sabine Parish rival Pleasant Hill in the state championship game.
Procell’s record point totals were 3,173 points for one season (46.7 per game) and 6,702 points for his four-year career. That’s an average of slightly over 1,675 points per season. In most basketball seasons, no high school player in the nation will score 1,657 points. A few years ago, Bruce Williams of Florien was second on the all-time national list with 5,367 points, 1,335 under Procell’s record. Before Procell scored 3,173 points in his senior season, the state and national record for a single season was 2,689 points by Harold Ray Strother of Plainview (Glenmora).
Procell also set a state record with 100 points in one game (against Elizabeth). The previous record was 82 points by another Sabine Parish star, Truitt Weldon of Mount Carmel.
When Ebarb played Airline in the Haughton tournament in the middle of his senior season, Procell set a gym scoring record with 53 points.
“He won’t score 50 points against us,” predicted Jesuit coach Miles Holladay, whose team was going to play Ebarb in its next game.
Holladay was right about that. Procell scored 60 points against the Flyers.
Procell, who was a teacher and coach for 12 years at Huntington High and an assistant principal at Huntington for eight years, was later a fishing guide for 20 years. He then went into the oil and gas business.
His senior season at Ebarb was also the final year of the Pistol Pete Maravich era at LSU. Meshell, who was six feet tall, was the tallest player in Ebarb’s starting lineup. Three starters were 5-8. But they held their own against some of the best teams in higher classifications. Two of their losses were to Captain Shreve, which took a 33-game winning streak into the Class 3A (then the top class) finals before falling to Brother Martin (New Orleans) in overtime. Another Ebarb loss was to Bossier High, 103-95, The Bearkats held Procell to 52 points.
Procell scored 50 or more points 28 times in his senior season, and would’ve had many more 50-point games if the three-point shot had existed at that time. Ebarb broke the 100-point barrier 17 times and broke the national season record for team points by more than 1,200 with a total of 6,196.
Many stories about Procell have emphasized his 100-point game. To me, that was his least significant accomplishment. I was much more impressed with his consistency. When he became the first high school player to break the 6,000-point barrier, he had scored more than 50 points in seven of his previous eight games.
One of the local teams Ebarb beat in the 1968-69 season was Coach Billy Montgomery’s Haughton Bucs, who won the Class A state championship for the second year in a row. Kenny Covington and Benny DePrang were All-Staters on that Haughton team, with Covington selected Most Valuable Player in Class A for the second year in a row. Ebarb also beat defending Class 3A state champion Woodlawn, Byrd, Airline and Jesuit (now Loyola), with Procell scoring 52 or more points in each of those four games. The Rebels averaged 92.5 points per game for the entire 68-game season.
The Louisiana Sports Writers’ Association selected an All-Prep team for the 1969-70 season, which was the top five players in all five classes (3A through C). Procell, the only Class B or Class C player on the team, was selected Most Valuable Player. The only team with two first-teamers was 3A runnerup Captain Shreve, with Mike Harrell and Jeff Sudds. The 3A champion with a 36-0 record, Brother Martin (New Orleans), didn’t have anybody on the All-Prep team and had only one player, Ernest Brunet, on the 3A All-State team. Brother Martin coach Andy Russo was the All-Prep Coach of the Year.