New Book by Author Joe Puckett, ‘The Dream: The Story of the...

New Book by Author Joe Puckett, ‘The Dream: The Story of the 1978 and 1979 Peerless Panthers’

AMHERST, N.H. /Publishers Newswire/ — High school basketball took hold of one small town – Peerless, Montana – and author, Joe Puckett, recounts the story in “The Dream: The Story of the 1978 and 1979 Peerless Panthers” (ISBN: 978-0-9845494-0-5), a new book published by Aubade Publishing. In the team’s 45-year history, it was the players from 1978 and 1979 that first qualified for the State Class C basketball tournament in Montana.

The story details 1957-1980 when the State Class C Montana basketball tournament was played in Helena. It also outlines the passing of the District 1-C basketball conference – once the most powerful Class C basketball conference in Montana – which today no longer exists.

Puckett recounts sharing a dream with his father, George “Tiny” Puckett; his twin brother, Jon; and childhood teammates to someday play in and win this State C basketball tournament for the town of Peerless.

The story begins in 1932, when Puckett’s grandfather, Forgey Reese Puckett, founded Peerless High School and ends with its closing in June 2009. Throughout its pages are numerous black and white photos that help to bring the story to life.

Mostly, this book is about dreams, rivalries, triumph, disappointment, passion and a love shared by a group of boys who never gave up striving for the one thing in their life that mattered most – playing in the State Class C basketball tournament.

Largely based on the author’s memories, events that occurred more than 30 years ago are pieced together with the help of a scrapbook that was meticulously maintained by Puckett’s mother, Faustine.

With many small schools in Montana either closing or being forced to combine with other schools, mostly attributed to the difficulty of the small rancher or farmer to make a living, it was this fact that served as the catalyst for Puckett to write this book – to preserve the memory of the Peerless community.

Laced with humor, small-town intrigue and anecdotes, most readers will find something to identify with in “The Dream.” It reveals just how closely one small town’s identity and social life are connected to high school basketball.

As a way of commemorating the fine Peerless Panther basketball tradition, former Panther players are gathering for an alumni tournament on June 25 and 26 in Scobey, Montana. Panther teammates from the 1960s through the 1990s will play a game to salute the memory of Peerless High School.

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  • Dennis Gaub

    A fine read for anyone with small-town roots (Montana or elsewhere), or someone who appreciates the virtues of small town USA. I especially appreciate Joe’s reminiscences because I had a front-row seat for part of them: I was a sportswriter for the Billings Gazette in 1978 and covered Peerless’ first-ever trip to the state Class C basketball tournament. That weekend was more fun than work!

  • Lee Kimm

    I to have a special connection to the 78 panther team. I was on one of the teams that played against them that year. Thursday night was the first time we had seen them, but from the get go you knew this was not a team to be taken lightly. We played them on Friday night of that year. True to form they found a way to keep coming back at you. There aren’t many teams that you remember after thirty some years, but after all this time I still remember this group of guy’s. We were all farm or ranch kids from Montana. Every team there that year showed the competitive nature of the small town life, but this team definitely stood out!