Winslow High School honored its most celebrated and worthy basketball player on Tuesday when it named the basketball court at the new gymnasium after the legendary Isaac Bonds. Bonds is the improbable holder of the Arizona state high school single season scoring record of 40.1 points per game set in 1963-64.
Virtually all of the basketball scoring records have been set in the years after 1990. The rules of the game have changed since 1964 to greatly enhance the opportunities for players to score more points. For example, there was no three point shot in 1964 and no bonus free throw either. Both of those changes mean more scoring opportunities for all players.
Winslow High School played only 22 games in the 1963-64 season and that included the team making a trip to the state championship game. The Bulldogs finished the season with a 17-5 record and as the second place team in its class in Arizona.
Bonds scored 50 points or more twice in that season and those games came on consecutive nights. The slender senior tallied 51 points on Feb. 7, 1964 in a 96-94 loss to the Phoenix Indian School and scored 50 the next night in an 88-65 win over Snowflake. He scored 40 or more points in 13 games and was over 30 points in eight more games. He was held to less than 30 points only once when he scored 19 points in a 98-64 loss to Flagstaff on Dec. 19, 1963. He fared much better the next time the Bulldogs met the Eagles, scoring 46 in an 81-75 Winslow victory.
Phoenix Metro Basketball Magazine’s Barry Sollenberger named Bonds as the captain of his “Super Schoolboys of the Century Team” in the magazine’s 2000-2001 edition. That honor joined others that included being named a 1964 Prep School Honorable Mention All American and Arizona 1A All State Team Member in 1963 and 1964.
Bonds was such a prolific scorer that his 40.1 per game average in his senior year is over five points per game higher than Mike Bibby’s second best average of 34.5 established in his 1994-95 junior year at Shadow Mountain High School. Bibby also holds the third best season average established in his senior year.
There are 22 players ahead of Bonds on the career scoring list, but none played earlier than 1990. Bonds scored 882 points in 22 games during his senior year and 1,812 in his three year varsity career. Teams played far fewer games in his era with Winslow playing 17 games in his sophomore year, 25 in his junior year and 22 in his senior season.
Bonds had many collegiate offers and did attend Northern Arizona University, but did not play basketball there. He went into the U.S. Air Force and played a considerable number of games while in the service. His military career carried him to Viet Nam where there were things much more serious than basketball to contend with.
After his enlistment was over, Bonds returned to Winslow where he worked as a railroad engineer for over 30 years. He and his wife Yvonne raised two sons (Isaac, Jr. and Toby) and a daughter (Stephanie). The couple still lives in Winslow and look forward to visits from their children and grandchildren who mostly live in the Phoenix area.
Bonds was honored by the Arizona Interscholastic Association in 2004 on the 40th anniversary of his setting of the longstanding scoring record. In conjunction with that celebration, a number of former teammates, coaches, rival players and coaches and friends gathered to honor Bonds and renew old acquaintances.
Future generations of Bulldog cagers may not know much about the man their court is named for, but the old-timers will never forget him. “He followed his shot better than anyone I ever saw,” one hall of fame coach said. “He just had the magic touch,” said another. Without a doubt, he made his name synonymous with Winslow basketball for many years. His scoring record has stood the test of time.
Winslow is rightly proud of Isaac Bonds and his family, but he is more than a basketball legend. He and Yvonne and their family are the type of citizens that make the town a good place to live.