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MailTribune.com
  • Klamath team last SOC squad to win title

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  • The sum of the parts, working together like a finely-tuned clock, was far greater than the individual components working separately.
    And that's just the way coach Al Keck demanded that his basketball teams operate at Klamath Union High School.
    That selfless approach was perhaps never more evident than during the 1964-65 season, when the Pelicans could do no better than tie Medford High for the Southern Oregon Conference championship but generated a ton of momentum at season's end to claim the Class 4A state title.
    The state crown was the fifth in eight years earned by SOC teams ' three by the Pels and one each by Medford and Grants Pass. No SOC team has bagged one since.
    South Medford will be out to end the 41-year drought beginning tonight when it meets West Salem in the quarterfinals at Eugene's McArthur Court.
    — We were kind of a rag-tag group, recalls Rick Brosterhous, a 6-foot-1 sophomore guard on the Pels' '65 title squad. Brosterhous is an uncle of South Medford players Kyle and E.J. Singler.
    Nobody was flashy, says Brosterhous, who lives in Eugene and works as a contractor. We didn't have a real stud. We were just a down-in-the-dirt group that played hard on defense, shared the ball on offense and ran down every loose ball and rebound.
    The blue-collar mentality was especially evident along KU's front line. None of the three starters possessed much height, but 6-3, 210-pound senior center Jim Patzke, 6-4 senior forward Terry Ash and 6-3 junior forward Bob Moore knew how to throw their weight around.
    Ash was Klamath Union's best player, averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds per game while snagging first-team all-conference, first-team all-tournament and second-team all-state honors. Patzke, who scored at a 13.5 clip, was a first-team all-SOC pick and a second-team all-tourney selection.
    Moore, meanwhile, averaged 7.5 points and an equal number of rebounds, and would go on to accomplish bigger things in football. The standout tight end earned a scholarship to Stanford and in 1970 helped the Cardinal to its first Rose Bowl title in 30 years. He later played in the NFL with Oakland, Tampa Bay and Denver.
    We were physical, says Patzke, who still resides in Klamath Falls and works in a mill. Personally, I liked to block shots more than anything.
    The Pelicans didn't look like a state title contender the first half of the season, when they lost twice to Medford and suffered four setbacks overall in their first 12 games. But then they heated up like an Arizona summer breeze, winning their final 14 contests, including four at the state tournament.
    Brosterhous gives most of the credit to Keck, who worked his players like mules in practice.
    He ran us and worked us and drilled us into the ground, says Brosterhous, who would go on to play at Oregon. I can remember looking at him after about the 10th wind sprint and asking, why Al, why?
    He would tell us, 'At the end of the year you will understand all of this.'
    Keck, who died at the age of 82 last month, was like a second father to many of the players.
    He had a tremendous influence on me, Brosterhous says. It was about a relationship with a man you would go to the wall with.
    Klamath Union tied Medford for the SOC title ' both fashioned league 13-3 records ' but lost a coin flip and advanced to the tournament as the No. 2 seed. The Pelicans soared to a 70-51 win over Mac High of Milton-Freewater and then drubbed a talented David Douglas squad 65-49 in the championship quarterfinals as Patzke registered 20 points and 14 rebounds and Ash 17 points and 15 boards.
    The Pelicans edged past Thurston 62-59 in a semifinal game thanks in large part to senior guard/forward John Jendrzejewski, who came off the bench to score eight of his nine points in the fourth quarter.
    I hadn't played much the first two games and was chomping at the bit to get in there, says Jendrzejewski, who lost his starting job to Brosterhous midway through the season. Moore got into foul trouble and so I got to play quite a bit.
    Klamath Union caught a break in the other semifinal when Sunset upset defending champion Parkrose, 67-56, ending the Buckaroos' 29-game winning streak.
    In the championship game, Sunset took a 39-36 lead halfway through the fourth quarter but Ash made a layup and senior guard Jim Drew drilled a 20-foot jumper that put Klamath Union ahead to stay on its way to a 44-42 win.
    Klamath Union finished the season with a 22-4 record.
    The Pelicans were a power throughout the 1960s and probably had their best team in 1966-67. Rick Brosterhous was a senior by then and he was flanked by two talented brothers ' 6-3 junior Rick and 6-9 sophomore B.G. ' along with standout junior guard Mike Keck. All four would play major colleges sports.
    But the powerhouse squad, which was ranked No. — in the state all season, got ambushed by eventual champion David Douglas in the semifinals when several of the Pelicans got food poisoning.
    Reach reporter Don Hunt at 776-4469, or e-mail Klamath team last SOC squad to win title"dhunt@mailtribune.com.
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