Wednesday, October 01, 2014

1971 state champs had athletes

3/15/2013

There were some similarities between the only two Ottawa High School boys state champion basketball teams.

They both were full of athletes. The teams knew how to win.

There were some similarities between the only two Ottawa High School boys state champion basketball teams.

They both were full of athletes. The teams knew how to win.

The 1971 team had Steve Grogan, who went on to play in the NFL with the New England Patriots; David Drumright, who played professional baseball, along with Richard Mendell, who was an all-around athlete for the Cyclones.

The 2013 team was led by Duke University signee Semi Ojeleye. Dallas Natt, a two-time triple jump state champion and a Pittsburg State signee. Kaden Shaffer and Taylor Graf will play college baseball. Austin Blaue will play golf for Ottawa University.

Alex Hasty and Wyatt Peters have been recruited and expected to play college basketball.

Charlie Porter, a member of the 1971 state championship squad, said his team had a balanced attack with four players averaging between 12 and 16 points.

“We did not have anybody like Ojeleye,” Porter said. “He is a load. We had a lot of balance.”

The two teams were good defensively with speed at the guards. The 1971 team had Mendell, while the 2013 had Natt.

“Richard Mendell was quick and fast,” Porter said. “He was one of the best athletes in school. He ran the 100 in 9.9 seconds. He averaged 9.5 yards [a carry] in football. He was a lot like Dallas.”

The 1971 team went into the state tournament as an unknown, while the 2013 version was well-known after its three straight runner-up state finishes.

The 1971 Cyclones were 16-6 entering the state tourney and won 14 of its past 16 games. Ottawa was making its first state appearance in 15 years.

That team had some close calls, while this year’s version rolled to victories in its first two state tourney games.

Ottawa opened the 1971 tourney against Kingman, which was making its third straight state appearance. The Cyclones next faced Parsons and held on for a 58-57 victory.

Ottawa then beat Augusta for the title.

Porter saw lots of games this season after retiring from his basketball officiating duties. He said it was fun to watch the 2013 team and see how many Ottawa fans made the trek to Salina.

“It was a premier game between teams ranked 1 and 2 the whole season,” Porter said. “I am so happy for them.”

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