Posted on

Community Mourns Loss Of Basketball Star John Weeks

Community Mourns Loss  Of Basketball Star John Weeks Community Mourns Loss  Of Basketball Star John Weeks

Wolf Point and northeast Montana basketball lost a legend when John Weeks died at the age of 74 on Saturday, Feb. 17.

“Big John” Weeks, listed at 6-10, was a dominating figure when the Wolf Point Wolves won the 1968 state boys’ basketball championship.

Spike Bighorn, who was inducted into the Montana Indian Athletic Hall of Fame with Weeks in 2018, remembers as a youngster watching Wolf Point’s basketball games and Weeks in awe.

“When you’re 7 or 8 years old and you see somebody that size, especially on a basketball court, he seems like a giant,” Bighorn said.

He explained that Weeks was the first player that he witnessed who totally controlled the paint by blocking a lot of shots and also grabbing a huge amount of rebounds. Bighorn noted that the blocked shots were crowd favorites.

“They were obviously loaded, so they didn’t need a lot of scoring from John. He could score but didn’t need to,” Bighorn said. “He added that additional aspect. He towered over people. He was intimidating.”

Bighorn said watching the exciting Wolf Point team, led by brothers Willie Weeks and John Weeks, had an impact of Bighorn’s own successful athletic career.

“They were guys I looked up to and it increased my interest in the game,” Bighorn said. “It made me want to improve.”

Years later when Bighorn served as a basketball official, he appreciated the often kind words from John Weeks that he was doing a good job on the floor.

During the tournament to qualify for the state tournament, Weeks scored a total of 47 points and grabbed 27 rebounds in three games to earn All-Tournament first team honors. He was a second team All-Tournament selection for the state tourney. Weeks scored 968 points during his high school career.

Sidney’s sharp shooter Dave Steinbeisser remembers many close games against the Wolves in the late 1960s. He said depth was one of the things that made Wolf Point a great team.

“They were deep, big and had good ballhandlers,” Steinbeisser said.

One of the games for Sidney against Wolf Point was the 1969 divisional title game which the Wolves won for a return trip to the state tournament.

“We always played Wolf Point pretty good,” Steinbeisser said. “But that darn John Weeks would mess things up because he was so big. He was a true center and played strong inside. And he was a nice guy. I always got along with him when we talked after the games.”

Steinbeisser played against Willie Weeks starting already in the fourth grade. He didn’t face John Weeks until high school days. Steinbeisser said John really became a force during his last two years of high school.

“He learned how to shoot a hook shot. He worked hard to improve,” Steinbeisser said. “He really rebounded well and was a strong defensive player.”

John Weeks went on to play for Western Montana College where he was voted to the Frontier Conference’s second team as a sophomore and All-Conference first team as a junior. He was selected Bulldog Player of the Year for four straight weeks. He averaged 20 points and 14 rebounds a game for Western.

During his induction speech to the Montana Indian Athletic Hall of Fame, Weeks mentioned that his uncle took the first jump shot in state history in 1941. He said the Weeks’ family led Wolf Point to 16 state tournaments throughout the years. The Wolves placed in the three 13 times, made eight championship games and won three state titles.

When both Weeks and Bighorn were inducted into the Montana Indian Athletic Hall of Fame, it was special for Bighorn that Weeks was in the same class.

“It was nice to share it with someone. I was proud to be inducted with him of that stature from the same tribe,” Bighorn said. “The legacy of John and Willie Weeks will live on forever.”

During his later years, John could always be counted on to be in person watching the Wolves’ home basketball games. In fact, he attended the District 2B basketball tournament in Wolf Point during his final days.

“It’s going to be weird not seeing him sitting on the sidelines,” nephew Coy Weeks said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *