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A Record for the Ages: His 56-Point Game Still Unsurpassed

A Record for the Ages: His 56-Point Game Still Unsurpassed
Ed Kazakavich’s big night on Nov. 18, 1959 has yet to be duplicated. The 56 points he scored in a contest against King’s College is still the school record for most points scored in a single game.
Battling rival King’s College down the stretch of a close contest Nov. 18, 1959, Kazakavich kept shooting and kept scoring. With an array of fade-away jumpers and a soft touch around the basket, the 6-foot-5 center from North Scranton produced a performance for the ages. When the final buzzer sounded in overtime, Kazakavich had 56 points and a new Scranton single-game scoring record.

“I never had the feeling I was having a big night,” Kazakavich says, looking back. “It was a hard-fought game, back and forth the whole time, and you just don’t think about records or scoring. Your main focus is on winning.”

 The fact that Kazakavich is still telling this story 54 years later surprises him. While it was a proud moment, it was one he thought would be surpassed by now. Between rule changes and the addition of the three-point shot, Kazakavich thought surely someone would top 56 points. “For whatever reason it’s still standing,” Kazakavich says, “which is incredible.

”This isn’t false modesty. While Kazakavich was without question one of Scranton’s all-time greats, the ’59 Royals offense wasn’t designed to score a lot. Led by several local players, Scranton was a disciplined and methodical group. The slower tempo meant fewer possessions and fewer opportunities for anyone to score big. “It was a lot of teamwork,” Kazakavich said. “So whoever was hot got the ball. When they weren’t, they knew well enough to stop shooting.

”While this slowed-down approach worked for the Royals, it was interestingly born more out of scheduling conflicts than any coaching brilliance. In the 1950s, Scranton practiced and played at the Catholic Youth Center. Since the Royals had to share practice time with the freshmen team, the varsity team could only practice half court. 

The imperfect facilities, however, were a blessing in disguise. Scranton was very successful during Kazakavich’s career and pulled off upsets against powerhouses like Villanova, Georgetown, Gonzaga and Seton Hall. To Kazakavich, these wins are far more impressive than his 56-point night. 

When his career at Scranton ended, Kazakavich was drafted by the Boston Celtics in the third round of the NBA draft. But with future Hall of Famers Bill Russell, Tommy Heinsohn and Bob Cousy already signed on, Kazakavich decided to play for the New York Tuck Tapers of the National Industrial Basketball League (NIBL) instead. 

Teams in the NIBL were sponsored by companies and featured employees as players. By day, players worked for a sponsoring company and by night, they played and later met with customers for cocktails and appetizers.

Kazakavich spent only one year with the Tuck Tapers but said he enjoyed traveling, playing and meeting people. “It was great,” Kazakavich said. “It opened up opportunities for other things.”

After his playing days were over, Kazakavich joined the military and later worked in the claims department at State Farm Insurance for 36 years. In his final years before retirement, he was the claims superintendent, which he says fit his personality well. “I enjoyed the interaction with people,” Kazakavich said. “There was quite a bit of negotiating going on and I found that very stimulating.” 
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