Court Dedicated to the Iba Family
Sports royalty originated in Easton, Mo.
Legendary former University of Missouri basketball coach Norm Stewart spoke at the dedication banquet in St. Joseph on Thursday, November 21. He was one of several coaches to attend, including Larry Holley, Tom Smith and the Iba Family members.
For generations to come, young basketball players and fans that come through East Buchanan will know the legacy and impact the Iba Family of Easton, Mo. left on the sport.
The school district officially dedicated the basketball court at East Buchanan High School as the Iba Family Court on Friday, November 22, capping two days of events honoring the legendary basketball family, the roots of which were planted and grown just up the road in Easton.
That family includes Henry Iba, a revolutionary coach of the game who won Oklahoma State to two NCAA National Championships, and coached the United States team to a pair of Olympic gold medals in the 1964 and 1968 games.
Skip Iba, Moe Iba and Gene Iba recall their trips to Easton and their family’s basketball legacy during the dedication ceremony at East Buchanan High School.
The East Buchanan senior basketball players pull back the cover to reveal the Iba Family Court name on the basketball court.
His brother, Howard Iba, coached 26 seasons at Central High School, leading the school to a 26-3 record in 1958 and second place in the state.
Fellow brother Clarence Iba coached at the University of Tulsa for 11 seasons, helping lead the team to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1955.
Their youngest brother, Earl Iba, was drafted into the Army in 1943 and was a recipient of the Bronze Star. He coached eight years at Oklahoma Panhandle Sate.
All four brothers are members of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. Their sister, Lucille, was the oldest and most beloved of the siblings. She played basketball at Easton and its agreed she may have been the best player of them all if there had been more opportunities for women in athletics at the time.
From the siblings, three more noteworthy college basketball names were born. All three were in attendance at East Buchanan last week. Moe Iba, the son of Henry, coached at Memphis, Nebraska and TCU, collecting 239 wins. Gene Iba, the son of Clarence, coached at Houston Baptist, Baylor and Pittsburg State. And Skip Iba, the son of Clarence, played basketball for Oklahoma State under his uncle Henry, during which they won the Big Eight Conference championship in 1965.
The three were among more than 30 members of the Iba Family who were in attendance on Friday night for the court dedication, serving as a de facto reunion for the family – a truly special occasion for both the community and the Ibas.
“They were coming in from all over the United States. Skip said this evening it was from coast to coast, and to hear that this is the first time some of those family members have ever met, it is special. I’m a family-oriented type of person and to be able to be the middle person with all of that, it is something special that I was able to do, I guess.”
The evening kicked off with a video presentation outlining the history of Henry Iba’s career, including a special video message from famed Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, who personally thanked the East Buchanan School District and the community for honoring Mr. Iba and the entire family.
Dave Riggert was the night’s master of ceremonies and introducted Skip, Moe and Gene for a discussion at center court, where the three recalled the family’s history in the sport and the Easton community.
Afterwards, the senior members of the East Buchanan boys and girls basketball teams pulled back the covers on the baselines of the court, which now read “Iba Family Court.”
East Buchanan activities director Dave Elms spent more than a year planning and organizing the event. He had often wondered in his 11 years why the community of Easton – in which East Buchanan Middle School is located – hadn’t honored the family. When he started to ask around about people’s feelings about naming the court after the family, he found some people didn’t know about the history.
But after the dedication Friday, students and community members will always have a reminder of the Iba family, and that even from Gower or Easton, everything is possible.
“It’s a great example that small town kids can do great things,” Elms said. “If they put their mind to it and work hard, they can succeed and they don’t need to come from a big city. Good things happen to good people and if they work hard, good things can happen to them. Hopefully they can get a little more pride knowing that a family like that is from a small town and from your school, and like I said before, bring that legacy back to the forefront for the community and Northwest Missouri.”