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KVSI, AM1450 - the Voice of Southeastern Idaho.

Pocatello teammates savor days of glory from 1957

By Lyle Olson - Journal Writer


BOISE - For some, 47 intervening years seemed to vanish in an instant. For others, recognition of old teammates took a moment or two, though nothing could long dim the memory of that magical march to the state basketball championship in 1957.

This was the heart of that unbeaten team, gathered with old coaches and old friends to be recognized as "Legends of the Game" by the Idaho High School Activities Association. Eight players were on hand Friday night at a reception here, with perhaps four more due for the ceremony at halftime of Saturday night's championship game in the 5A state tournament at the Idaho Center.

John Evans, coach of the PHS team in that 1957 season, was on hand at Friday's festivities along with his assistant coach, Byron Toone, athletic director Lionel Bowser and eight of the players. Beating the odds, all 12 of the '57 squad members survive, though the years have stolen a step or two and turned some hair white.

Evans, now 80 and residing in Laguna Hills, Calif., confronted Chuck Brough, one of the mainstays of his historic team.

"Are you still in Las Vegas?" Evans asked. "Yes, still dealing," replied Brough.

"Well, you always had the good hands," quipped Evans. In fact, he allowed that Brough may have been the best athlete he ever coached. So valued was Brough's presence on the basketball team that Evans moved him into his home when the Brough family moved from Pocatello.

In the semifinal game of the 1957 state tournament at Boise Junior College, Brough recalled that he had two free throws coming in the waning moments, with the Indians behind by three points to the Burley Bobcats.

"Coach told me if I missed the free throws, I wouldn't get any dessert for supper," Brough said. "You could say I was John's boy that year."

The collection of old-time players on hand for the reception Friday included Ross Rytting and Jim Reed, Pocatello; Marvin Fields, Newhall, Calif.; Keith Martindale, Bern, Idaho; Darrell Gertsch, Alpine, Wyo.; Angelo Sakelaris, Reno, Nev., and Kip Power, Monument, Colo.

It was Martindale who was carried off the floor after scoring the winning basket against Burley, he recalled.

"I never even broke a sweat," he recalled. "Bob Reed fouled out and I went in and hit the basket, the only one I had."

Unsurprisingly, the team members have gone on to successful careers.

Jim Reed had a confession Friday night concerning his twin brother.

"Sometimes when Bob got in foul trouble, I held up my hand to take the foul calls."

Playing on that championship team was a great experience, Jim said.

"John was no fun when we lost," he recalled. "But he taught us to win on desire."

Reed, now owner of a lawn care service, also weathered years in the insurance business in Pocatello. He recalled the championship game in which the Indians took a 19-6 lead in the first quarter and went on to whip the powerful Kellogg Wildcats, 81-59.

"Ross (Rytting) got hot, everybody got hot. Kellogg was a great team, but not that night," Reed said.

Rytting, who has been a fresh potato broker and a moving force as a pitcher, coach and manager in fast-pitch softball, said Evans devised a new strategy for the Kellogg game.

"He didn't sleep the night before the game," Rytting said. "He decided to rotate our forwards and post every trip down the floor, and it confused their defense. They gave me the ball, and I just shot it." And shot well, finishing with 18, second only to Brough's 25.

There was another PHS memory that Rytting revealed.

"I had the same high school sweetheart for four years, and it's been a 50-year love affair," he said of wife Jean.

Fields, who at an even six feet, was about the tallest player on the championship team. To this day, he carries a fragile, faded photo from the Idaho State Journal in which he is being stuffed on a shot under the basket. The clipping, he says, came his way from an old and valued acquaintance who chanced upon it somewhere in Tennessee.

Fields now is in the process of retiring from a real estate enterprise in California, turning it over to a son.

Also retired is Power, now living in Monument, Colo., after a career with Toys 'R' Us. After PHS, he attended the University of the Americas in Mexico City. Also retired is Gertsch after a career in gas and oil research at the University of Oklahoma. Old teammates Friday recalled it was hard to catch up with Gertsch, especially in the half-mile track event, in which he excelled.

Sakelaris, who suffered a debilitating knee injury at the start of his senior season, may have been led into his career as a result. He has been in the practice of physical therapy in Reno, Nev., for more than 30 years.

Golf remains a pursuit for at least a couple of people - Martindale and Evans. Martindale opens his radio station at Montpelier at 6 a.m. each day, and at 11 heads for the golf course. Evans says he plays three times a week, but allows it's now a good day when he breaks 90.

Don Neves, longtime administrator at Highland High School and spokesman for the IHSAA, welcomed the group at the Rodeway Inn, and provided them with T-shirts and other memorabilia denoting the occasion. Some of the other guests present included PHS Principal Don Cotant and his father, John; Ron Kress, a longtime coach in District 25 who won state championships with Highland in 1970 and 1981; Jim Chatterton, another PHS administrator; former PHS football players Jerry Beebe and Lavere Simon; and many wives.

The IHSAA began recognizing teams from the past in 2001, paying homage to girls' teams from at least 20 years ago, and boys' teams from at least 30 years ago. The remaining members of the PHS team expected to be on hand at the Idaho Center Saturday night to accept medallions and plaques included Bob Reed, Bert Huth, Donald Walker and Dave Berrett.