The Eastern, Pennsylvania State, New York and Interstate Leagues all embarked on the 1916-17 season with an optimistic outlook for success. The Eastern Basketball League split its usual forty-game schedule into two twenty-game halves. Jasper won the first half handily behind the strong leadership provided by veteran star Harry Hough who had been acquired from Trenton. Hough and tiny dynamo Barney Sedran teamed at forward, while defensive star Marty Friedman and veteran scorer Kid Dark (picked up from De Neri) performed at guard. Rookie Dave Kerr filled the center position well until he went down with a knee injury. Just before the halfway mark, Hough suffered a dislocated shoulder; further handicapping Jasper’s second-half chances.
With Jasper slowed by injuries, Greystock, under the leadership of veteran Joe Fogarty, easily won the second half. Fogerty, in his 15th-pro season and still at the peak of his game, led the league in scoring. Fogarty was backed up by Ray Cross a fine scorer and strong defender and twenty-two year old Jack Lawrence emerging as one of the league’s better centers. Jasper and Greystock met in a best-of-three-game playoff for the league title. Jasper controlled the opening game from the start. Hough sank 22 of 27 free throw tries to assure the victory. With Barney Sedran out of game two with an injury, Jasper could only tally one field goal in forty minutes of play and easily succumbed to Greystock 35-17. Before 5,000 fans at the Camden Armory, Greystock came from behind to win the third and deciding game 23-21.
The Pennsylvania Basketball State League enjoyed a strong third season, featuring former Troy stars Andy Suils and Jack Inglis as the leaders of a powerful club in Carbondale that dominated the season with twenty-seven wins in their first twenty-nine games. Suils, a crafty defensive specialist, proved to be an able floor leader in his role as player-coach. Inglis teamed with set-shooting whiz Elmer Ripley and young center Spike MacIntyre to provide the team’s scoring. Wilkes-Barre was handicapped in the defense of its league title by the loss of high-scoring Sam Curlett to Trenton of the EBL and did well to hold onto second place. Nanticoke finished third behind the strong performances of Dick Leary and Chief Muller.Fourth place Pittston was the circuits most improved team; largely due to the powerful presence of ex-Interstate League star Garry Schmeelk.
Bridgeport took the first half honors of the Interstate Basketball League, but then was ousted along with two other Connecticut teams by the New York area teams who refused to travel outside the metropolitan New York area. The players on the strong Bridgeport squad, including stars Johnny Beckman, Joe Dreyfus, and Eddie White, were parceled out to the three new metropolitan area clubs for the second half of the season, but were reunited at the conclusion of the season to play in the championship series. Despite the convoluted season, the Bridgeport five were impressive in the playoffs and defeated second half champion Paterson in two straight games to take the title.
The rejuvenated New York State Basketball League enjoyed a successful season. With many of the better-known stars of past seasons performing in the higher-paying PSL, youngsters such as Al Schuler and Herm Butch were featured. Attendance was high despite the diminished quality of play from previous years. The season was brought to an abrupt halt, however, the first week in February, when the National Guard closed all the state armories where league games were played.
The effects of the gathering war clouds would soon go beyond a single league.
NEW YORK STATE BASKETBALL LEAGUE