Greg Burris Shares His Heroic Basketball Tale

Greg Burris is the city manager of Springfield, but that’s old news. To get the new news, we had to go back to when he was Greg Burris, high school basketball player.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.

Jeff Houghton: So you shot a half-court shot with 27 seconds left?
Greg Burris: I was going to Nixa High School, and at the time Nixa had less than a thousand people in the town, so it was a very small team, 2A, but we had a history of good basketball teams.

J.H.: What year is this?
G.B.: 1979. We won state in 1978. This is the semifinals in Columbia, Missouri, in the old Hearnes Center. We were playing Palmyra, and it was a loud, raucous atmosphere—a big arena, with lots of fans in the stands.


J.H.: What position are you playing?
G.B.: I’m a guard, and I’m bringing the ball up the court toward the end of the first half. Our coach, Coach Brandstetter, had size 14 shoes, and he would get our attention by stomping on the wood floor. It would just reverberate, and he would always get our attention that way, and I would always turn to look to see what he was telling me to do.

I’m not quite to half-court, and I hear the stomp and look over there, and everybody on the bench—including the coach—is holding up one finger.

What you have to understand is the clocks at either end of the arena at Hearnes were burned out, and they didn’t have the clocks on top of the backboards like they do now. If you’re on the court, you can’t see the overhead clock, so you have no real idea how much time is left. I saw everybody holding up one finger, and I thought there was one second left. So I launch a shot from beyond half-court, further than half-court. In my mind, the whole arena went silent, but I’m sure that wasn’t the case.  

It went in. 

It was the only two points I made that game. What they were trying to tell me was to get the last shot, but all I saw was one finger and had no idea how much time was left. So I launched a shot with 27 seconds left.

When I launched it, they were all wondering, “What the hell is he doing?” because they can all see the clock. Then it goes in, and the crowd just erupts.


Greg Burris, guard for Nixa High School.


J.H.: If a last-second shot happens in the last second, with one second left, what would you call this?
G.B.: A mistake.


J.H.: Did you guys win the game?
G.B.: We lost that game by two points and ended up getting third in the state.


J.H.: How many shots a game might you generally put up?
G.B.: Five or six.


J.H.: So that must have made it all the more crazy that you were shooting this shot.
G.B.: That I was shooting at all.


J.H.: How many times out of 10 could you make that shot?
G.B.: Zero


J.H.: Did you become known for that shot?
G.B.: There are a couple of them that still bring it up.


J.H.: Would you rather have had that happen the way it did or to have won the game?
G.B.: Oh, I’d much rather win the game. I’m very competitive.


J.H.: Are we the best Springfield?
G.B.: Oh yeah, easily

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More Articles Like This

50 Things Every 417-Lander Must Do

When do you know you’ve become fully initiated into your home? You can start by trying all the foods that are unique to the area. You can check the best sites off your bucket list. You can immerse yourself in the outdoors. And, let’s be honest, that can take years! This feature is your shortcut—a list of 50 things that every 417-lander should know, do or eat to be really and truly local.

Beneath the Surface: Controversy on the Buffalo National River

Since C&H Hog Farms opened its 2,500-sow operation in the Buffalo National River watershed in 2013, concerns involving the river’s safety and quality have been on the rise. We headed south to investigate the farm’s practices, learn about the potential threats to the watershed and examine the heart-felt passion of the many people involved.

Plan a Trip to the Emerald Isle or Hear Irish Tunes Locally

417 Magazine owner Joan Whitaker's maiden name is Sullivan so it’s only fitting that visiting Ireland was high on her bucket list. Here are her tips for planning a trip to the Emerald Isle and for enjoying Irish music locally if a trip isn’t for you.
Edit Module
Edit Module
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Sign up for our newsletters Follow us on Instagram

Edit ModuleShow Tags

  1. Why Pickleball is the New “It” Sport
    The number of places to play pickleball has doubled since 2010. Digital Director Dayle Duggins...
  2. Fall Festivals: 25 Way to Celebrate Fall Fun in 417-land
    We’ve rounded up the most delightful, most bizarre and most timeless fests around to add to...
  3. Republic’s Scuffed Edge Flea Market
    At Scuffed Edge in Republic, one creative maven shares her passion for refurbishing home decor.
  4. Goat Yoga is Your New Favorite Workout
    Our managing editor got bendy with some goats, and somehow among their bleats and bucks, her...
  5. 50 Things Every 417-Lander Must Do
    When do you know you’ve become fully initiated into your home? You can start by trying all the...
Edit Module
Edit Module