Mrs. Lillian Justice Cox, Everybody's All-American Women's Basketball Player by Martin Cox.

About Evergreen

Published May 5, 2009

Martin "Sonny" Cox sent this article and supporting link listing his mom's 1938 AAU All-American status in women's basketball while playing for the Galveston Anicos. Sonny thinks she played on a number of AAU national championship teams during her career. She played on two or three national championship teams in 1934-36 with the Tulsa Stenos, a women’s business college she attended in Tulsa, OK. While working for the American National Insurance Company, Anicos, Sonny thinks she also played on the 1938 and 1939 national championship teams.

Sonny wrote, “she was a real competitor all her life. I know while growing up and playing basketball, beating her at ‘horse’ was almost impossible. I sure do miss her.”

He indicated that over the years his mom, Lillian Justice Cox, stayed in touch with several of her old teammates, so Sonny grew up knowing Nora Cain Volich and a true women's basketball legend, Hazel Walker. 

The Galveston Anicos were a women’s Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team from the 1930s. The team was sponsored by American National Insurance Company, from which the name “Anicos” was derived. The team came to the forefront in the 1937 in the national AAU tournament when they lost the title to the Little Rock Lewis & Norwood Flyers. The team was assembled by the owner of American National, William L. Moody III, who built a team of veteran AAU players guided by a superlative coach, Sam F. Babb, who had built national AAU championship teams in 1932 and 1933 with the Oklahoma Presbyterian College Cardinals.

No women from Galveston were on the team. The star of the Anicos was 5’11” Frances Williams, who had previous experience for teams from Fort Worth, Oklahoma City, Holdenville, and El Dorado, making the AAU All American (tournament all star) team in both 1935 and 1936. Another top player he recruited was Nora Cain, who was an AAU All American in 1936 for the Tulsa team. The Anicos did well in the tournament, beating the great Tulsa Stenos in the semi-finals, but losing the title game to the Little Rock Lewis & Norwood Flyers, 17-10. Williams won the Most Valuable Player honor and Cain joined her as first team All American.

The Anicos came into the 1938 tournament undefeated, and because of their reputation and black uniforms, they became known as the “black threat.” The tournament was a low-scoring affair, the Anicos winning the championship by beating the Wichita Thurstons 13-8. Three Anicos made the first team All American team—-Williams, Cain, and Lillian Justice. They finished the season with a 29-0 record.

The Anicos, boasting the talents of Lottie Jackson (“America’s greatest girl basketball player”) easily repeated as champions in 1939, beating the Little Rock Flyers 21-8 in the title game. Again Galveston earned three positions on the All American squad—Williams, Jackson, and Glennis Birket.

The Anicos came into the 1940 tournament as the top seed, but were upset in the semi-final by Nashville Business College (NBC), dubbed the “Nabucos” by sportswriters. On the NBC team was an up and coming star, Alline Banks. No Anicos made the first team All American team, the women of Galveston had passed the torch to new powers in women’s basketball.


Gavelston Anicos, championship 1939 team gets a New York Times item

Gavelston Anicos, championship 1939 team gets a New York Times item


Submitted by Martin "Sonny" Cox, EHS basketball player, trackman, band member, and 1957 graduate on behalf of the Cox family.


Main Street
Photo Gallery
Where Are They Now?
Unforgettable Personalities
Pelicans Websites



Contact Us


Home Community Churches News Education Reunions Photos Memories Memorials Donors Sponsors Subscribe Contact Us