The 23rd Street Crusaders Author:Carson, John F. The ladies of the 23rd Street Church called the gang the Crusaders, but the boys themselves used the name West Side Pirates, and the law and everyone else in town called them "juvenile delinquents." Superficially, at least, the last name seemed to fit them best, for all seven of the boys were on a year's probation for beating a helpless old man... more ». Left to their own devices, they probably would have turned to crime if they had not met a soft-spoken stranger named Ed Sorrell.
Joey Gibbs, one of the gang, tells the story. Sorrell refused to talk about his past or where he was from but he knew a lot about basketball and persuaded the minister of the church to let the boys practice in the basement gym. With Sorrell coaching them, the Crusaders showed signs of becoming a good team, but Hank Shane, their leader, refused to cooperate with the coach and ignored training rules. The inevitable showdown occurs, a bloody fight between Shane and Sorrell in the church basement. The fight is broken up when Burke, the boys' probation officer, suddenly appears. Sorrell defends the boys and they learn about his own tragic life that has led him to try and work with a "bunch of hardheads." Joey Gibbs begins to realize that Ed Sorrell has restored their self-respect and given them a sense of team play that is applicable to basketball and life itself.« less