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1954-55 Juneau High School All Alaska Champions

Posted: November 8, 2012 - 1:13am
The 1954-55 All Alaska Champions, the Juneau High School Crimson Bears. The team included:(standing left-to-right)  coach Bill Ordway,  guard Mike Wade, center Pat Ness, center Dave Hollingsworth, forward Mike Grummett, and forward Allan Engstrom. (kneeling l-r)  manager George Playdon, guard Warren Powers, guard Bob Jewett, forward Christie Crondahl, and guard Johnny Ebona. Not pictured is forward Phillip Lesher. See daily historical photos on page A2 and in Sports. For more historical photos go to Juneauempire.com. The Juneau Empire is celebrating a "Century of the Empire" and is encouraging readers to submit old photos, comments or information on the areas rich history.
The 1954-55 All Alaska Champions, the Juneau High School Crimson Bears. The team included:(standing left-to-right) coach Bill Ordway, guard Mike Wade, center Pat Ness, center Dave Hollingsworth, forward Mike Grummett, and forward Allan Engstrom. (kneeling l-r) manager George Playdon, guard Warren Powers, guard Bob Jewett, forward Christie Crondahl, and guard Johnny Ebona. Not pictured is forward Phillip Lesher. See daily historical photos on page A2 and in Sports. For more historical photos go to Juneauempire.com. The Juneau Empire is celebrating a "Century of the Empire" and is encouraging readers to submit old photos, comments or information on the areas rich history.

Juneau High School started the season with a new coach, Bill Ordway, due to the untimely death of coach Arnold Soley. Ordway was a former professional football player and last coached at Mandan, Montana.

JHS played exhibition games with the City League, but the important competitions were with other Southeast schools that would all eventually gather at Mt. Edgecumbe for the Southeast Tournament.

JHS was undefeated in interschool competition prior to the SE tourney, going 14-0.

JHS won the SE tourney, defeating Petersburg 83-20, Douglas 62-31 and Ketchikan 57-45.

The Crimson Bears then traveled to Anchorage to play Western Alaska Champions Anchorage High. The Eagles embarrassed JHS 40-25 in the first game of the All Alaska series. JHS came back to win the second game 46-34. In the third and final game the Crimson Bears won in double overtime.

On the Pacific Northern Airlines flight back home, weather forced the plane to fly to Seattle. A collection by fans helped the team live the good life for a few days in hotels in Seattle. The press, radio and television pulled all the stops to make their unexpected visit a real occasion. The Bears visited with another championship team, Garfield High School, titleholders of the Seattle area as well as the state of Washington.

According to the Associated Press, the team arrived in Seattle at night and players poured out of the plane, hoisting cheer leader Susan Blanton to their shoulders and greeting an impromptu welcoming committee with “When do we eat?” and “Let’s challenge Garfield.”

When JHS returned to Juneau, over 1,000 cheering fans were on hand. The school band was there in uniform. School was out in Juneau and Douglas and students flocked out to cheer home the best basketball team in the territory.

From the airport the high school champs were whisked through town in a lengthy car parade, police sirens screaming and auto horns blazing.

Sports reporter Steve Brodie manned the mikes at the gymnasium gathering for the team and the town. The team was honored at the Teen Age Club with special gifts sent to Juneau by Teen Age Director Zach Gordon’s mother, Mrs. C.Z. Gordon of Brookville, Pa.

The club had a big evening affair led off with remarks by Mayor Bert McDowell and sports announcer Brodie. Dave McPhetres and John Hurlock played a saxaphone duet accompanied by Helen Lister and Johnny Harris entertained with songs.

At the refreshment table Mrs. Stan Grummett, mother of club president and Crimson bear basketball stalwart Mike Grummett presided over a table that boasted a punch bowl, cookies and sandwiches and a giant cake decorated with the names of crimson Bears basketball players and the scores of the championship Juneau - Anchorage ball games. Over 250 teenagers and their parents attended.

The House of Representatives in the 22nd Session of the Alaska Legislature introduced House Resolution No. 15 to pay tribute to the Crimson Bears:

Whereas, Basketball has become the game most played by the young men of the Territory and the game with the largest participation by both players and spectators; and

Whereas, in the recent All-Alaska High School championship game the Juneau High School Crimson Bears won the best two out of three series from the Anchorage High School Eagles; and

Whereas, this was probably the most exciting championship title of all time and was the first time that the visiting team has won the championship,

Now, Therefore, the House of Representatives in Twenty-second Session of the Alaska Legislature do herby pay tribute to the Juneau High School crimson Bears basketball team, consisting of the following young Alaskans: Dave Hollingsworth Johnny Ebona, Mike Grummett, Allan Engstrom, Bob Jewett, Christy Chrondahl, Phil Lesher, Pat Ness, Mike Wade, and Warren Powers and to their coach Bill Ordway, for their achievement in winning the 1955 championship.

And be it further resolved that copies of this resolution be given to the members of the Juneau High School Crimson Bears. Passed by the House, March 22, 1955.

The Independent columnist, Vern Metcalfe wrote in his Speaking Of Sports section:

The title was the finest tribute that could have been paid to the late Arnold Soley, who coached these boys until his untimely passing last summer. It was a great team victory for a fine coach and we aren’t taking anything away from Ordway hen we say it was also a victory for Arnold Soley.”

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