Philadelphia fans felt smug in the knowledge that for the first time since 1903 their city was the center once again of the professional game. The interest in the Eastern Basketball League within the city was intense, not at all like the ambivalent relationship Philadelphia had with the National Basketball League a decade earlier. During the new season the EBL celebrated its return to prominence with a terrific battle for the championship that saw three teams finish in a tie for first place, with a fourth just a single game back. Fan interest mushroomed, with halls bursting to capacity. As many as 4,000 fans attended some late season games.
With three weeks left in the forty-game EBL schedule, four teams were tightly bunched at the top of the standings behind defending champion Reading Bears. The Bears, after an awful start, had righted themselves and seemed on the verge of their second consecutive title. Jasper was mired in fourth place with just three games left in the season when they caught fire. They performed the seemingly impossible feat of defeating Reading, Camden, and Trenton on the road in consecutive games to finish in a three-way tie for first with Camden and Trenton. Jasper’s remarkable late season surge came as a complete surprise after the Jewels had treaded water through all of the previous season and most of the current campaign. The miracle finish was largely the accomplishment of just two men, Dutch Wohlfarth, who played tough defense and controlled the offense, and center Bill Kummer, who led the Jewels in scoring and was accomplished at retrieving errant shots under the basket.
Led by diminutive star, Jackie Adams, Camden was the EBL’s highest scoring team and its most popular gate attraction. The addition of Roy Steele, an excellent defender from Gloversville of the New York State League, helped mask the team’s problems on defense. Trenton competed with essentially the same team as last season, with Harry Hough and Jimmy Kane doing most of the scoring. The team was virtually unbeatable on its home court, but lost a chance to take first place outright because of a mystifying inability to regularly defeat the last-place Greystock club.
Reading, the defending champions, got off to a very poor start due to injuries to key players. The defense continued to pound opponents into submission, but offensively the club sputtered. Andy Sears and Bushel Beggs eventually got the club rolling, but the early season problems were fatal to Reading’s hopes to repeat as champion. They finished in fourth place, just a single game back of the leaders. The veteran De Neri squad, that had battled Reading for the title the previous season, also was badly off form. They performed in uncharacteristically erratic fashion and landed in fifth place. Greystock took a firm grip on last place the first week of the season and never let go. The Jaspers completed their fairy tale season by winning three of four playoff games to prevail over Camden and Trenton in round robin series to decide the EBL championship.
In the New York State Basketball League the always-powerful Troy Trojans engaged in a season-long struggle with a surprising Utica club, which had performed without distinction in two previous seasons. Utica’s success this season was engineered by the “heavenly twins”, Barney Sedran, the 5’3″ former City College of New York star, and his 5’7” running mate Marty Friedman. At center, Swede Grimstead used his height to advantage to control jump balls and capture rebounds, while veteran Kid Franckle helped out with the rebounding and provided extra scoring punch. Utica, displaying an accurate short passing game and excellent team speed, raced off to a big early season lead, at one point winning seventeen straight games.
Troy got off to a slow start, and then reeled off eighteen straight victories to close out the season. They came up one game short and had to settle for second place by a single game behind Utica. Coach Lew Wachter had the same strong combination as last year, featuring Ed Wachter, Chief Muller, Jack Inglis, and defensive ace Andy Suils. Lou Sugarman, the league’s leading scorer, propelled the Cohoes club to a third place finish. The sole interest in the remaining teams was the outstanding play of a group of new young players, Frank Bruggy at Gloversville, Garry Schmeelk at Paterson, and the best of the bunch, 18-year-old phenomenon Johnny Beckman at Kingston.
Because Jasper’s key players, Bill Kummer and Dutch Wohlfarth, could not play, the EBL champions declined to participate in a post-season tournament with the NYSL champion Utica team.