Tri-County Youth Sports Grant
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1952 Caterpillar Basketball Team

This great Caterpillar team won the first of Caterpillar's five AAU titles. The team, coached by Warren Womble, also was a dominant factor in the Olympics in Helsinki as five different players - Marcus Freiberger, Howie Williams, Dan Pippin, Frank McCabe and Ron Bontemps -- and Coach Womble played major roles as the United States won the Gold Medal in basketball. Others who played important roles on that Caterpillar team were Bob Harlow, Bob Schmidt, Bill Dempsey, George Lafferty, and John Brown.

Caterpillar finished only fourth in the NIBL with a 13-9 league record that season as the Phillips Oilers won the league title at 17-5. Confronted by perennial power Phillips in the championship game, Caterpillar won easily, taking a quick 23-9 lead and then winning 66-53 with Williams scoring 20 points.

McCabe, Bontemps and Williams were named AAU All-Americans and the team, after a brief return to Peoria, headed for New York's Madison Square Garden and the Olympic playoffs. Caterpillar whipped the Air Force All Stars 71-67 and again bombed Phillips 64-50 in New York. Then it edged the NCAA champions, Kansas, and huge Clyde Lovellette 62-60 on Williams' clutch bucket with five seconds left. Thus Caterpillar reigned as the No. 1 basketball team in the nation.