The 1943-44 Salem Wildcats basketball team ranks as one of the most successful in the program’s history.

Coach Kenny Farrar guided the squad to a 25-10 record, a share of the North Egypt Conference championship with Flora, a regional championship and advancement to the sectional championship game.

This particular group of Wildcats often had to come from behind to earn their success.

Salem had to win its final three games to get a piece of the NEC crown, which included a 37-33 win at Lawrenceville in the final conference game.

The Wildcats, who finished league play with a 10-2 record, overcame a five-point deficit in that contest thanks to ten-point outings by Don Wile and Jim Finks.

Salem beat three opponents by a combined 116 points to win its own regional championship, which at the time of its induction, is the last for the program.

The Wildcats blasted Sandoval 64-17 in the opening round behind 16 points from Francis Meador.

Salem then beat Kinmundy 56-27 in the semifinals behind 17 points from Finks.

Doc Laney and Meador also hit double digits with 11.

The Wildcats got a surprise opponent in the regional championship game, as Patoka upset heavily favored Centralia 41-29 in the other semifinal game.

The Warriors kept the game close for a half, but a 25-8 run by the Wildcats in the third quarter sparked Salem to a 76-38 win.

Finks, Wile and Meador combined for 68 of the 76 points led by 27 from the NFL Hall of Famer, 22 by Wile and 19 by Meador.

Salem advanced to the Centralia Sectional where it faced a Mt. Vernon team that had drilled the Wildcats 47-25 during the regular season.

This time was a different story, as Salem racked up a double-digit lead in the first half and went on to beat the Rams 46-33 behind a team-high 18 points from Wile and nine more from Finks.

The Wildcats faced another tough obstacle in the sectional championship game where they met West Frankfort, another team that beat Salem during the regular season.

The Redbirds, who beat Salem 44-38 the last week of the regular season, got off to a strong start in the rematch and went on to post a 41 -27 win despite nine points each from Meador and Finks.