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Prime Times - August 2006
An unforgettable season

The 1964 Gaylord High School Basketball team is being inducted into
the Greater Otsego Sports Hall of Fame

story by Robert McClean

     It was during the month of March, around noon in the year 1964, when the residents of Gaylord filed onto the I-75 southbound ramp for a trip this town will never forget.
     The backers of the Gaylord boy's basketball team headed toward Lansing to the Civic Center for the biggest game in the history of the program. No Blue Devil team had advanced as far as the state semifinals. And no team has ever since.
     "It was like a roller-coaster ride", said team forward John Jenkins. "You're moving fast and your hair is flying. There isn't any stopping until it's all over. It's one of those things that you never forget."
     This fall, that team will be inducted into the Greater Otsego Sports Hall of Fame.
     "That season was a great thrill and will always be a part of history at Gaylord High School," said team point guard Bill Borst. "We had one heck of a great team."
      GHS finished with a 13-3 regular season record and caught fire at the perfect time, when playoffs started. Things looked bleak for the peaking team when it was placed into a district that contained No. 2 ranked Cheboygan Catholic. Not even a heavily favored Chegoygan Catholic team could halt Gaylord's momentum as it cruised to a 95-45 triumph and a spot in regional competition.


Tom Lick, center, during
his junior year

Bill Borst as a senior played guard

The 1964 Blue Devil Basketball team is the only team to have advanced to the state semifinals.

     Gaylord then knocked off Maple City-Glen Lake and defeated Harbor Springs in the regional championship. Then a quarterfinal win against No. 3 ranked Wakefield put the town of Gaylord into a frenzy. "The town went kind of nuts," Borst said. "They all got behind us. After the game, the fans were waiting for us at the high school to celebrate."

     Bill Wishart, a huge fan and a friend of the team's coach Jim Mongeau, said he remembers the day when everyone left for Lansing for the final four. "The whole town shut down at noon," Wishart said, "because everyone was going to Lansing.

     And that's exactly what happened. The Lansing Civic Center was filled to its rafters with jubilant fans dressed in blue and gold. "The whole community came together as the team progressed," Jenkins said. "Almost every teacher was in attendance. They were just as excited as we were".

     Gaylord fell short of its state championship bid to Gross Pointe St. Paul in the semifinal game. However, it will always be remembered as one of the best teams to sport any Blue Devil uniform.  That special Gaylord team had all of the essential ingredients for success. It had a near seven-foot center named Tom "the stick" Lick. He was a sophomore at the time and eventually went on to play collegiate basketball at Michigan State University.

      The short and quick Borst served as the team's point guard, while Don Fitzek joined him in the backcourt to create one of the best fast break teams in northern Michigan. Pencil in a pair of athletic forwards, Ron Snell and Ron Jenkins, coupled with a versatile sixth man - John Jenkins - and every fan had the delight of watching a phenomenal squad.

     Mongeau always got the best out of his talent, whether it was from his starters, or his deep bench that included Mike Smith, Curt Cremeans, Joe Tebo, Mike Warner, Bill McBride or Don Brehm. "He (Mongeau) was like a second father to us," Borst said. "It was a great experience."

The players of the '64 team

The 1963-64 Blue Devils: left to right, Don Brehm, Jim Johnson, Joe Tebo, Mike Warner, Mike Smith, Ron Snell, Tom Lick, Ron Jenkins, John Jenkins, Bill McBride, Don Fitzek, Curt Cremeans, Bill Borst. Coach: Jim Mongeau shown kneeling, was assisted by Jim Stone, Dennis LeSage and Bob Bankov, who are not pictured.

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