Members of the 1970-71 Salem High School basketball team will be honored during a reunion on Saturday, December 4th, when Salem opens its home season against Henryville.
Members of the team and coaching staff will be recognized during halftime of the varsity game.
It was just over 50 years ago that the basketball team left its mark in the Salem record books by winning the IHSAA regional and advancing to the Sweet Sixteen.
A reunion had been planned last year, but was postponed due to COVID-19.
Led by first-year coach Gary Duncan, the Lions marched through the regular season with a 15-5 record (including a third-place finish in the Mid-Southern Conference with a 6-3 mark)
and they also captured the Washington County Holiday Tournament title.
In 1970-71 (when there was no class basketball in the Indiana state tournament) Salem won three games to capture the IHSAA Sectional title on its home court.
The championship game of the sectional went into double overtime before the Lions won, 68-66 over Corydon, to
avenge a regular season loss.
The following week, Salem traveled to Huntingburg for the regional, and defeated Springs Valley in the afternoon game before upsetting Jasper, 76-73, to claim the school’s first
regional title in 32 years.
Although the season ended at the Evansville semi-state the next weekend in a loss to Floyd Central, Salem ended with a 20-win, 6-loss record.
Duncan is expected to attend the game on Saturday along with other school officials, players, managers and cheerleaders from the team.
Salem School Board members and former Salem Middle School principal Ray Oppel was assistant coach and Max Bedwell was principal and athletic director.
Seniors on the team were Bill House, who averaged 15.3 points a game, and Ron Mitchell, who averaged 15.5 points both of whom earned All-Mid Southern Conference honors, and Gary Martin, who received Honorable Mention on the All-Conference team.
Also on the team from the Class of 1971 were Jim Pugh, Larry Purlee, Rick Hinton, Terry Price and the late Bill Klein.
Members of the team from the junior class were Larry Humphrey, Steve Johnson and Steve Spaulding, while sophomore David Pitts rounded out the tournament squad.
Student managers of the team were: Richard Simpson, Rodney Gross and Mark Nixon, while seniors Julie DeJean and Dr. Teresa Williams and juniors Sue Brough Humphrey, Sandy
Garriott and Glenda Lawson Howell were cheerleaders.
Duncan was named a member of the 60th Men’s Induction Class to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
Duncan coached basketball for 21 seasons as head coach at Salem and Southridge where he finished his basketball career in 2010.
He is a 1963 graduate of Oakland City High School and 1967 graduate of Oakland City College, he spent 21 seasons as head coach at Salem and Southridge high schools.
Highlighting his 19 years and 279 wins at Southridge were 1985 and 1986 state finals appearances – the 1985 team was the only team in one-class state finals history to reach the final four with no seniors.
His two-year stint at Salem to begin his career included a 20-6 season with 1971 sectional and regional championships in his first season as a head coach.
In all, his teams won 303 games (.627), eight sectionals, three regionals and two semi-states.
Duncan retired from coaching in 2010. He was inducted into the Oakland City University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009. He and his wife, Donna, reside in Huntingburg.
The Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame’s 60th Men’s Awards Banquet is scheduled to take place Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
The day’s events will include a reception at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame museum in New Castle that afternoon with a banquet that evening at the Primo Banquet Hall in Indianapolis.