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The Cats went on to defeat Los Alamitos Naval Air Station (73-62) and Grihalva Buick (63-55), both of California, for titles in 19, respectively.With the addition of 6-foot-9-inch Bert Born, a member of the Kansas Jayhawks' 1952 NCAA national champion and MVP of the 1953 Final Four for a national runner-up, Peoria added another AAU national title in 1958 with a 74-71 four-overtime classic over the Denver-Chicago Truckers. 1 overall choice of the 1959 draft, Bob Boozer, an All-American from Kansas State, spurned Cincinnati's pro franchise to play in Peoria, the Cats tacked on their last championship.
Caterpillar's team, funded by nickels and dimes it collected from vending machines inside company break rooms, just began to scratch the surface of its potential in the annual national AAU tournaments at Denver from 1945 to 1951.
20, 2005 By JOE SPENCER of the Journal Star One of the greatest amateur basketball programs of all time once played in Peoria. Grundman argues in "The Golden Age of Amateur Basketball: The AAU Tournament, 1921-1968," that the Peoria Cats, a traveling Amateur Athletic Union basketball team sponsored by Caterpillar Inc.