Dave Newhouse and Nate Branch gave an excellent presentation at the Palo Alto Arts Center auditorium yesterday, for PAHA, about a historic and storied hoops result from 1962, wherein future Harlem Globetrotter Nate Branch of East Palo Alto and Ravenswood High sank a shot in quintuple-overtime to beat the favored private school St. Elizabeth of Oakland. It made Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd; Newhouse, a Menlo Park native, who retired from the Oakland Tribune, recently wrote a book about it: the play, the context, the aftermath and us– including recent mayors Libby Schaff and TK of East Palo Alto.
It called to mind, and in a new light, Gunn 54, St. Ignatius of San Francisco 56 in the CCS finals held at Maples Pavillion in 1981. In our case — I both covered this for the Gunn High School Oracle and sat on the end of the bench wearing Titan uniform #13 — Kent Lockhart sank a shot with 11 seconds left but then Jerry Chang missed from 20 at the buzzer as the Wildcats held on to win the title.
One of the points I stressed as I told this story to those within earshot Sunday was that the 1981 match was seen by the locals as Peninsula versus City, public versus private and co-ed versus all- Male: students and parents and especially the band from both Gunn and Palo Alto High communities stood together to cheer the locals on. I said that nowadays the Gunn-Paly rivalry is more acrimonious; Paly kids would not root for Gunn against a common foe.
(See also my criticism of new Paly coach Jeff LaMere in the Palo Alto Weekly website in reaction to his comment that although Paly beats Gunn he thinks the series will be continued; I said it was patronizing; I called the program out for its extensive use of foreign students –at least three, in the Diepenbrock era, including one from Australia later declared ineligible — and South Palo Alto and Ventura athletes, mostly black; and Tinsley students from East Palo Alto and, ironically in this discussion people who might have attended Ravenswood if it had remained open).
I asked yesterday’s speakers about Jim Loscutoff, class of 1948, and a former Paly star from the 1960s Dan Johnson later sent me two photos of the former Celtics champ, who died a few years back in Massachusetts.
As I prepared to make a comment — then thought better of it — I watched quietly on my handheld computer device the final minute on video on Youtube of Lockhart and Chang and them, the ups and downs, hits and misses. Someone had asked if there was any video of Nate Branch’s high school moment — apparently the only still shot that exists is of Nate being carried on his mates’ shoulders.
I had the following people sign my basketball: Nate Branch, Dave Newhouse, coach Tom Crane, Phyllis Newhouse. The ball was given to me by Aaron Biner of Premier Shoes of Palo Alto a few years back, signed by Walt “Clyde” Frasier for Puma. I later had Mildred Howard the artist sign it, and musician Marcus Shelby and then-Mayor of Palo Alto Sid Espinosa.
The delightful meeting of Palo Alto Historical Association called to mind one a few years back with former NFL player Henry Ford and his wife Rochelle — the topic was mixed marriages or race. (Which futher calls to mind — in it’s Plastic alto way — that his son Marc Ford although better known as a running back hit a buzzer beater in hoops at Paly to give Gunn it’s only league loss in 1980, 22-5 overall; compared to 25-3 and undefeated in league in 1981 — Gunn beat San Carlos and Riordan in close or OT games in CCS to set up the near-miss with SI in the championship).
Reviewing my related coverage of Kent Lockhart, I realize that somewhere along the line I created a falsehood about Kent. I said he broke his arm while trying out for the Knicks, after being an NBA draft pick. Not true, as David Drake his former stepfather recently pointed out. I think what I meant is that had Michael Ray Richardson NOT broken HIS arm, Lockhart as a Knicks rookie would have gotten the chance to strut his stuff — a theory or riff suggested by Ed Burns my former editor at The D, who interviewed Kent for Sports Illustrated fact-checking Curry Kirkpatrick’s story about University of Texas El Paso Miners.
When you watch the tape of a game from nearly 40 years ago, Jerry posted this a few years back after storing it on VHS for 30 years, the mind flirts with the idea that this time his shot goes in, as Nate’s did.
Kudos to Nate – -I’d like to hear him play piano or organ some day.
from Dan Johnson the former Paly star:
and1: Ok, this is too weird but: during the meeting yesterday, and listening to Dave Newhouse and Dan Johnson and Nate Branch and Steve Staiger speak, I was surreptitiously viewing the 1981 CCS title game, final moments, and I thought, as I wrote above, that Jerry Chang took the final shot, near miss. But now, on my big computer, i.e. Monday morning, back at Coupa, my typical perch, the game continues for one more shot, an inbound play, Jerry with the ball, tosses to Richard Nielson, who misses from 18 or so. I always think– and we can check the tape, or I can retrieve somewhere, even if it is the Palo Alto library bound volumes of The Oracle — that Lockhart also barely missed a crucial shot. I also think about Brian DiBiaso, the only junior to see any time — we had a 7 man rotation all seniors, 95 percent of our points — missed his only shot. If he had hit, Hans might have kept him in. Not that I’m blaming him. (I also recall that when I first found this tape –it wasn’t posted last time I saw Jerry which was our 2006 team reunion — I couldn’t see myself in warmups or on bench and had to ask myself — really — if maybe I made the whole thing up about being on the bench at all…)
Ok, work with me, it’s my blog, after all — it’s my birthday, age 56: