The team was Rich Arena, Barry Cook, Brant Gibler,
Dan Hegland, Jim Kerstetter, Doug LeClair, Clif McKenzie, Tony Milovich,
Alan Springer, Rick Walker, Mike Walthall and Gary Wilcoxen. Only Gibler
was coming back from the previous year. Arena, Hegland, McKenzie and
Walthall were juniors and Walker was a sophomore. I don’t normally have
sophomores on the team as I think this is only the third time I’ve done
it. But Walker showed a lot of potential in the try outs. The starters
at the start of the season were Gilber at center, Cook and Arena at
forwards and Milovich and Wilcoxen at guards.
This season we were 13-7 through the regular
season. We started out not too well and then all of a sudden, things
started fitting together. One of the main things that happened was that
the center started to grow up. Gibler started to grow up and then one
of the most amazing things that happened was Barry Cook. We went along
with Cook as a starter because he was senior, he had been there and he
was just a hard working guy and a good kid. I didn’t want to move a
senior out even though I knew this guy named Walker was better. I would
work Walker in early in so I didn’t think much of it. The kids didn’t
really know but Barry Cook came up to me after a practice one night and
he sat down in that little office I had there and he said, “Ya know
Coach,” he said, “I love basketball, but I really love to win.” And he
said, “You’re gonna have to put Walker in the game.” And what I was
trying to do was work him in slowly, I didn’t want to knock Barry out of
there because he gave a lot of good service. And I didn’t think that we
were going to be that good. Well, then we got Walker playing all the
time and Gibler started to grow up. And when he started to grow up he
started doing the job that we knew he could.
McKenzie was the brains of the outfit. I mean he
was probably smarter than the coach. And we had the best middle guy on
the press that we have ever had and that was Dan Hegland. Hegland was
convinced that the reason he was so good at the middle of the floor was
that he had played defensive halfback in football when he was a Peewees.
He would get back there and his head would be going back and forth and
when that guy started looking, he would out guess him. That ball would
come up and Hegland would get it and off we’d go.
Walthall was just left handed. When he came over
the mid line, he never met a shot he didn’t like. So you really had to
watch Walthall but Arena was really just developing and he was a major
college football player. Not knowing that much about football, I didn’t
know exactly what the job of a tight end or something did. But
apparently, the tight end blocks down on the tackle and Arena could
knock him out of there. So I assumed that Arena was a football player
when basically he was a basketball player because he was one of those
kids who was always the hero. I mean the women, even the older ladies,
loved Arena. If I didn’t put him in and play him right, by God, I got
hell when I got home. He was the lady’s man of the team. But he could
shoot and made some very clutch plays.
We had the role players in the rest of the team
too. Kerstetter, they call him Turkey, was in a world of his own.
Kerstetter could play if he got his mind set on it. LeClair was a good
player; you had to watch him because he would do what the coach told
him. Springer was just Springer and a good kid. Milovich was basically a
baseball player and Wilcoxen could play as well. Wilcoxen was a real
good addition and an excellent challenge on the coach because his
opinion of his ability and my opinion of his ability were quite
We started out slow. 1971 had been a pretty good
year so you’re going to ’72 and I thought we would get to the district
tournament. I did not think that we would get to the state tournament
because we would have to go through Curtis and we would probably have to
go through a couple of Tacoma schools to get there but there was one
thing that they developed and that was a tremendous competitive instinct
against O’Dea and a terrific one against Curtis.
We lost to West once and beat them once. I thought
we should have beaten them both times. We were a better team than they
were. We didn’t worry about Central Kitsap or North Kitsap. We worried
about Port Angeles and West.
We went into the playoff and beat Anacortes. Next
up was Curtis. That was a very tight game and just as I thought our
competitive instincts won out. We got out of there with a one point win.
Then we had a tight game with Marysville before playing Ellensburg for
the title game.
the State Tournament they met us out at Gorst with the fire department
and we had lost…I mean we lost! And it was a train of cars all the way
from Gorst. It was a very unusual feeling. We went into the gym and
they had a pep rally and yet we lost! God Almighty…I couldn’t believe
that but everybody was enjoying themselves so I thought, well get with
it Coach. Like anybody else who is really into coaching, I can’t
remember the good plays that I called or that we made, but I can always
remember the mistakes. I made a big one in that final game near the end
when I yelled at McKenzie that they had switched defenses. Unfortunately
we weren’t communicating because he thought I was asking them to run
play #2 and what I was saying was they were in defense #2. I should have
taken a time out. As a result we lost the ball and the game. I blame it
on the coach. It was a good season, didn’t end like I wanted it to, but
a fun ride none the less.