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Burling’s 97-point effort is memorable

State record was set in 1911

IRON MOUNTAIN — Crystal Falls’ Ed Burling scored a state-record 97 points in a 1911 basketball game against Iron River.

Or did he?

Ron Pesch, historian for the Michigan High School Basketball Association, questions that figure with games in those days producing few points.

“It looks completely out of whack,” Pesch told Traverse Magazine in 2012, noting the local papers never published Burling’s efforts in a 107-27 rout.

The late Bob Burling Flood said his uncle didn’t say much about the record other than “They just kept giving me the ball.”

Mark Flood of Iron Mountain remembers his dad telling him about his “great Uncle Ed scoring 97 points in one game.”

Forest Park High School football coaching great Dick Mettlach found the information while working on a master’s thesis about the school’s history. The late Malcolm McNeil, a U.P. Sports Hall of Fame promoter, backs Burling’s scoring performance.

“He wasn’t ready to brag or anything,” McNeil said. “But he had the record. He was real quiet, humble and intelligent. He didn’t bring it up unless somebody else brought it up.”

Denny Grall of the UP Sports Hall of Fame remembers reading a 1961 column note from Jim Trethewey of the Marquette Mining Journal regarding Burling.

“In days when UP sports writers seldom used quotes, Burling told Mettlach he couldn’t miss that night and most of his shots were made from the pivot position in front of the Trojan basket.”

Grall, a retired Escanaba Daily Press sports editor, wrote several years ago, “The most stunning item was the fact Burling made all of his team’s free throws that night, using a rule that allowed the team to send its best shooter to the charity stripe for every attempt.”

Crystal Falls’ Al Anderson is among those seeking verification. He’s checked UP newspapers including an Iron County publication with a blank spot in the newspaper right about the time Burling scored his 97 points. Could something have been mentioned there?

Hermansville’s Erwin Scholtz stands second in the UP and sixth in the state for single-game scoring, collecting 32 field goals and 71 points against Channing in 1961.

Third and fourth, respectively, in the UP are Trout’s Creek’s Jim Manning, 69 against Amasa in 1960; and Channing’s Roger Roell, 67, against Michigamme in 1960.

Danny Heater of Burnsville, West Virgina, holds the national record, scoring 135 points in a 1960 game. The 6-foot senior made 53 of 70 field goal attempts and 29 of 41 free throws. He also had 32 rebounds and seven assists.

Burling stands in a tie for 23rd on the national list, matching the 97-point feats of Guy Barr of Rochester, Ind., and Water Garrett of Birmingham, Ala. Barr’s 97 came in 1908, a 139-9 win over Breman.

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