BURNSVILLE — It is coming up on the sixty-second anniversary of one of the most legendary performances in basketball history at any level. On January 26, 1960, Burnsville High School basketball star Danny Heater set a national record by scoring a jaw-dropping 135 points in a single game against Widen High School. Heater, born in 1942, is nearing 80 years old, yet still holds the record for the highest single game scoring performance by a high school player in basketball history.
At the time of the game, Heater was a 17-year-old 6-foot senior forward at Burnsville High School. While he was an outstanding player, the outburst was seemingly “out-of-the-blue” until you learn that his teammates had been encouraging him to make a push to break the state of West Virginia’s then record for points in a game which sat at 74. His teammates were fully supportive of the plan, which was hatched in hopes of securing, the son of a West Virginia coal miner, an athletic scholarship. Instead, their plan resulted in Heater etching his name in the basketball record books, placed alongside the game’s brightest stars.
At halftime, Burnsville’s gameplan of feeding Heater the ball had went exactly according to plan. This approach meant that Heater’s attempt at the record was in good-standing as he already had 50 points. Heater outdid himself with a 85-point second half, highlighted by 55 points in the final 10 minutes of the game. In the 32-minute game, Heater shot 53-70 from the field (75.7%) and 29-41 from the free throw line. Although Heater’s performance was defined by the unbelievable 135 points he scored, he also pulled down 32 rebounds, and dished out 7 assists that game. Fueled largely by Heater’s mind-blowing performance, Burnsville destroyed Widen with a final score of 173-43.
The record of 135 points is certified by the National Federation of State High School Associations and is the highest total ever recorded in a single game on either the high school or professional level in the United States. While Heater might have surpassed famous Wilt Chamberlain’s NBA 100-point game, he still falls three points short of Division III’s Grinnell College player, Jack Taylor’s 138-point game.
Just to think that the record for most points ever scored in a regulation high school basketball game came in a tiny, rural Braxton County gym. While Heater’s dreams, of obtaining a scholarship offer to attend West Virginia University, might not have materialized, that night a lanky senior from small town West Virginia became immortalized in basketball history forever.