Professional basketball continued with three major leagues in operation during the 1910-1911 campaign. The Central Basketball League completed its fifth season, while the Eastern and Hudson River Basketball Leagues finished their second seasons.
For the second consecutive season, McKeesport took the CBL championship, but not before they battled a revitalized South Side squad down to the wire. The two teams featured confrontations between the two greatest offensive stars in the game. Andy Sears, the 5’11”, 180 pound. native of Chicopee Falls, Mass., was the tough, combative leader of the otherwise unheralded McKeesport squad.
The superbly gifted Harry Hough was back at the helm of South Side after a one-year stint in the EBL. Hough surrounded himself with a talented team that included Andy Suils, Jimmy Kane, Bobby Mayham, and Bill Powell, but still came up three games short to McKeesport in the final standings. Johnstown finished a disappointing third, despite the presence of such stars as Joe Fogerty, Bill Keenan, and Doc Newman.
The CBL continued to enjoy its undisputed status as the best professional league, but financially the season was anything but successful. The escalating cost of importing players from Philadelphia and New York drove teams further into debt. South Side, with its high-salaried squad, suffered the biggest losses. Ironically, last-place Uniontown, with league’s stingiest payroll, was the only team to make money.
The Hudson River Basketball League was not quite up to the CBL standards on the court, but an exciting three-team race between Troy, Paterson and Kingston helped the league surpass the older circuit in attendance, with Troy leading the way with an average of over 3,000 fans per game. Troy jumped off to a large early season lead, but an injury to star Ed Wachter slowed the Trojans. Even with Wachter on the sidelines for much of the season, Troy presented a strong cast of players with Bill Hardman, Jimmy Williamson, and Jack Inglis. High-scoring Chief Muller, who was lured away from the South Side team of Central League, proved to be a valuable addition to the Trojans as he led the NYSL league in scoring. Lew Wachter saw diminished playing time, but remained a primary factor in the team’s first-place finish because of his leadership and coaching abilities.
Paterson started slowly, losing six of its first ten games, but had the league’s best record over the last six weeks of the season. The Crescents operated through a 70-game league and exhibition schedule with just a six-man team. The small squad’s cohesive, well-balanced style of play provided the team with its strength, but also served as its downfall. With two men hobbled by injuries, Paterson’s well-knit game plan unraveled in crushing 24-8 and 32-5 losses to Troy during the last week of the season, and forced the Crescents to settle for second place. Kingston competed for the HRL title until late in the season behind the solid all-around play of center Maurice Tome and the scoring punch of Kid Franckle and Sam Curlett. Kingston’s challenge for the top spot ended when an illness took Franckle out of the lineup during the last month of the season, and forced them to settle for third place in the final standings.
The EBL experienced an exciting four-team team race until late in the season when De Neri gradually pulled away from the pack. The champions were led by the high-scoring trio of Mike Wilson, Buck Reilly and Elwood Gowdy. With able help from defensive specialist Gus Krueger, Jasper finished second behind the work of league scoring champion Jack Donohue.
A post-season tournament involving two of the three professional leagues was arranged between CBL champion McKeesport and De Neri, champion of the EBL, who met in a best of seven game series. It turned out to be a disappointment because the games were dull, lopsided contests that were totally dominated by McKeesport who won four straight victories.