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Central hoops legend, 88, dies

Mendenhall Jr. led Tigers to state title in 1943

Mendenhall

– Hall of Fame player and boys basketball coach Murray Mendenhall Jr., 88, died Friday at Coventry Meadows.

A 1944 graduate of Central High School, he helped the Tigers win the state championship in 1943 as the team’s leading scorer. He went on to play at Rice University (where he played for a Southwest Conference champion) and later played for Branch McCracken at Indiana and the Anderson Packers of the National Basketball League.

Mendenhall coached at five high schools – Beech Grove, Greensburg and Central, Snider and South Side in Fort Wayne – and then moved on to Indiana Tech, where he was basketball coach and athletic director.

Mendenhall’s father, Murray, coached the Central team that won a state title, as well as the Fort Wayne Pistons. His son, Murray Mendenhall III, was a longtime coach at Wayne.

“Obviously when you grow up with it, you learn some things,” Murray Mendenhall III said about his father’s influence. “Whether you knew it or not. We talked more about the sport in general.

“When I got into coaching myself, we talked more about strategy from time to time. He was an influence all the time, through my playing time and my coaching as well.”

Mendenhall Jr. was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996.

“Hopefully he had a positive influence with all the players that he came into contact with in all the years he coached,” Murray Mendenhall III said.

Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at D.O. McComb and Son’s Covington Knolls Funeral Home, 8325 Covington Road, with calling an hour prior. Calling will be from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home.

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