Former Pawhuska High School basketball coach Doug Dugger, who was instrumental in starting the Oklahoma Tournament of Champions nearly 50 years ago, died July 15 in Omaha, Neb.
At the time of his death, the longtime coach and athletic director at Tulsa Memorial High School was 87 years old. A remembrance service for Dugger was held in Thursday, Aug. 8, at Tulsa’s Asbury United Methodist Church.
A native of Ohio, Dugger served in the Pacific with the U.S. Marines during World War II. He started his basketball coaching career at PHS in 1950, shortly after graduating from Northeastern (Okla.) State University.
Dugger left Pawhuska for Tulsa McLain in 1959. Moving to Memorial in 1962 — the year the south Tulsa school opened — he launched what would become a highly successful Chargers’ basketball program. He retired in 1986 following a 36-year career as a coach and athletic director.
Forty years after being elected to the Oklahoma Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1968, Dugger was named as a member of the third-ever class (2008) inducted into the Pawhuska Basketball Hall of Fame.
Dugger is probably best remembered for his long association with Tulsa’s prestigious Tournament of Champions basketball event, which he started at Memorial in 1966.
One of Dugger’s players from PHS, Bob Roberts, said his former Huskies’ coach was captivated by the idea of an invitational tournament that would allow for matchups between the best high school teams in the state — regardless of their size.
“He had got the idea from reading about a similar tourney in Dodge City, Kan.,” said Roberts, who was later was associated with Dugger as an educator at Memorial, as well as an NSU alumnus.
The TOC — with its classic David vs. Goliath matchups — has continued as an annual Tulsa tradition for 48 years.
In the first year that the tournament was held, however, the Goliath which fell to David was the Chargers’ team coached by Dugger — as Memorial, of Class 2A, lost to Class B Inola in the final.
“Coach wasn’t too keen about that one,” Roberts said of the defeat. “But he loved the overall idea.”
Pawhuska High participated in several of the eight-team tourneys and the Huskies won the TOC title in 1970, the first time they were invited.
Dugger is survived by his wife, LaVelle, and one son, Jerry, as well as three grandsons and four great grandchildren.