A Taste of What Oregon High School Basketball Was Like During the 1960s

The following material was provided to SOHS by Hal Holman: 

Crater H.S. Comets vs. Klamath Union H.S. Pelicans Radio Broadcast

--- Klamath Falls, Oregon ---

(February 2, 1963)

KFLW Radio Announcer: Upcoming next—basketball right where you are. It’s basketball time   on your station for sports. Tonight two championship contenders--Klamath Union and Crater--square off on Pelican Court. All the action brought to you by Ballsiger Motor Company, Crater Lake Creamery and Superior Troy Laundry and Dry Cleaning. Now let’s go down to the court  and your sportscaster, Wayne Scott.

Game Announcer: Hi, sports fans. This is Wayne Scott at Pelican Court ready to bring you another Klamath Union High School basketball game direct from the scene of the action. Tonight it’s the Pelicans and the Crater Comets in a battle that no one can finish any worse  than in a tie for 2nd place. And, of course, the winner tonight goes into the top spot in the Southern Oregon Conference.

These teams come in here tonight even. I don’t know how else you could call it. For confer- ence play, the Crater Comets—5 wins and 2 losses. The Klamath Union Pelicans—5 wins, 2 losses. For overall this season, the Crater Comets—11 wins and 2 losses. For overall this sea-son, the Klamath Union Pelicans– 11 wins, 2 losses. Thirteen games these teams have played. There’s only one difference between them. The last time they met they played to a 51 all tie    at the end of regulation play. However, by the time that ballgame was over at Central Point,  the Crater Comets had won 59-57 (in OT) over the Pelicans....

Tonight these Pelicans are on their own home court and they want to get that one back and take over the top spot in the league. Now we’ll be right back with a rundown of the activities here tonight, some wrap up of some scores from last night’s basketball from around the state. And we’ll be right back after a word from our good sponsors.

Commercial: Are you satisfied with that last dry cleaning job? Next time….

Game Announcer: Here we are back at Pelican Court where both the Pelicans and the Comets are on the floor getting their warm-ups in. Just completed was a thrilling junior varsity game.... (KUHS won 40-39 on a “buzzer beater” by freshman Bob Moore who subsequently played tight end for Stanford University and later for 8 years in the National Football League.)

Incidentally, they’re playing to a packed house tonight—and I mean packed. And I would say     a good third of the crowd is from Central Point (80 miles away). I’m enlarging upon that a bit, but from the noise they made during the junior varsity ballgame, we can promise you there’s    a good Crater Comets following here in the stands tonight. Across from us we see not one   extra seat. Behind us there may be a few and, of course, they’re still coming in the door. The firemen are here making sure that Pelican Court does not get overcrowded, but the fans are still coming in.....


For the Pelicans it reads like this: We have Fred Kelly and Wayne Chamberland. Kelly standing  at 6’4” and Chamberland 6’3”. Next comes Grover Dahn at 5’10”, Hal Holman at 6’2-1/2” and Terry Ash at 6’3”.....

Commercial: Your Ford dealer is bringing you the greatest car sale this area has ever seen….

Game Announcer: Here we are back at Pelican Court where the fans are whooping it up in   front of a packed house. We mentioned a while ago perhaps--well, let’s put it this way—a   good share of the rooters here tonight are with the Central Point Crater Comets. I forget how many busloads they said came over with them, but they had a package deal worked out and      a lot of Pelican--well, we’d better call them Crater fans rather than anti-Pelican—Crater fans who are here to back their ballclub. So we’ll have a lot of noise. It won’t be a one-sided rooting section by any means.....

Commercial: While we’re waiting, boys and girls, listen to this. All these wonderful athletes that play so hard for Klamath have grown up drinking lots of milk. (True!)

National Anthem: Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, what so proudly we hail, at  the twilight’s last gleaming…. (See your handy encyclopedia for the remaining dozen verses.)

Game Announcer: Here we are ready to go again. A big ballgame for both the Pelicans and    the Comets. The Comets are taking the floor. That line-up for Crater again is Lou Alvarez (#11), Mike Glines (#13), Pat Pepper (#25), Howard Tomlinson (#33) and Paul Bransom (#41)....

Fred Kelly, Wayne Chamberland, Hal Holman, Grover Dahn and Dick Scott for the Pelicans.   Fred Kelly goes up against Paul Bransom at center—6’4” against 6’1” (True!). Kelly controls     the tip, but slaps it into the hands of #33. His shot is up. That was Tomlinson who went up    with that shot and missed and the Pelicans’ Fred Kelly clears the board...........

* * * * * * * *

And that’s the way it was February 2, 1963!

Related photos taken by Larry Holman, along with various newspaper articles (click to view)

The source: This information was compiled by Hal Holman on 7/10/21. Following his junior year  at Klamath Union High School, his family moved to Medford, Oregon, where he played his final year of basketball for Medford High School versus his ex-KUHS teammates. (Note: Awkward!) 
A Taste of Oregon High School Basketball During the 1960s 
Life, in so many ways, was “different” on February 2, 1963. As evidence, there was/were no..... ---Cable television (not even 4 basic channels.....nor 40 or 400 exotic choices) ---Internet (not even a clunky, chunky version.....nor on your wrist) 
---Video games (not even a primitive, limited format.....nor the smash hit “Pong”) ---Artificial hearts (not even test tube babies, cloned sheep…..nor “Viagra”) ---Lunar landings (not even Hubble telescopes, Mars missions.....nor “Star Wars”) ---Competitive girls’ sports (not even basketball, volleyball.....nor “indoor croquet”) ---"Muhammad Ali” (not even Super Bowls, Miracles on Ice.....nor “Fosbury Flops”**) ---"President Lyndon Johnson” (not even 9 months away.....nor THE most unimaginable reality) 
With apologies: Sorry, wrestling devotee(s), but the primary weekend activity in most Oregon  communities during those cold, winter months was to play, coach, attend, write/read about and/or listen to radio broadcasts of hometown high school basketball games. This enduring  tradition was best exemplified by the geographically isolated, 5-team Southern Oregon Con ference, a unique sports stronghold where wannabe local hardwood stalwarts proudly---if not  always stalwartly---represented their minimally numbered, but magically nicknamed athletic  squads: Pelicans (Klamath Falls), Black Tornado (Medford), Cavemen (Grants Pass), Comets (Central Point) and Grizzlies (Ashland). 
**Dick Fosbury, the “innovative” 1968 Olympic high jump champion, graduated from Med ford HS as a proud Black Tornado. 
Bottom line: The stark truth (see above) is that there simply wasn’t much else to do on a  Friday or Saturday night in southern Oregon back in the early 1960s. Need further proof? Medford HS basketball games were broadcast live on two competing, but loyal radio stations. 
Statewide interest: From 1947 thru 1965, the large school basketball championships were  held at historic McArthur Court, located on the campus of the University of Oregon in Eugene.  Sixteen teams from around the state qualified to play in this annual 5-day tournament which  ran from Tuesday through Saturday evening. (Note: This was conveniently scheduled during “Spring Break,” thus enabling participating student bodies, plus other interested fanatics, to  attend these games without missing classroom time, etc.)
Record numbers: Unsurprisingly, the tournament was a popular destination for young and old  alike. Depending upon which schools were involved, it wasn’t unusual for a Tuesday or Wed nesday afternoon session to play out in front of capacity crowds. (Note: The 1964 tourney set  a total attendance record of 90,000-plus diehard observers.) 
Notable “local” achievements: During one 8-year span, teams from the tiny SOC won 5 state  basketball championships. This streak began with Klamath Union in 1958, who duplicated the  feat in 1961 by edging Medford 66-64 in the finals (their 5th and climactic court encounter that  year). In 1960, Medford won titles in basketball---and football---and baseball. Just as stunning, Grants Pass won it in basketball in 1962---despite losing all 4 league games to Klamath Union  during the regular season. (Note: After KUHS captured its third title in 1965, it would take 42 years before another SOC team---South Medford HS---won the state crown again.) 
Attachments: Thirteen total documents reflecting the intense rivalries within the “Conference of Champions,” including three items regarding a specific game during the 1962-1963 season, are attached: 
 1-4) Front and back covers of the respective 1961 and 1962 “Tournament Reports.” 
 5-9) Five images of “SOC Madness” when typical standing room only crowds watched the  Pelicans square-off against the Black Tornado and the Cavemen, etc.---four times each per  year—at least. 
 10) “Get your program right here!” 
 11-12) Two Klamath Falls Herald & News articles, one previewing, the other reporting  the outcome of a mid-season, February 2, 1963, “game of the year” (to date) between the  Pelicans and the Comets with first place in the SOC standings available for the grabbing. 
 13) A “scene setting” excerpt taken from a transcript of that local KFLW radio broadcast. 
Suggestions: Computer magnification is strongly recommended. You may also wish to read  the “opening written radio description” between reading the 2 newspaper accounts. 
Spoiler alert: Basketball life during those mostly carefree days in southern Oregon could be equally exhilarating or exasperating. Sadly, for 3 valiant contenders---Pelicans, Comets and Grizzlies---the exhausting 1962-1963 crusade ended unmagically. Instead, the Black Tornado and the Cavemen rallied in the 2nd half of the season to secure the coveted “annual rite” to  represent the vaunted SOC on “Mac Court.” 
And so it went: The Pelicans and the Black Tornado qualified for the 1964 state tournament, finishing with identical 14-2 league records---while beating and losing to each other twice.  As in 1963, however, neither team came home with the big prize. (Note: C’est la vie!) 
In good taste: Grouped together and individually, these overlapping storylines capsulize  what high school basketball in the state of Oregon was like six decades ago.


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