It’s been nearly 50 years, yet when Doug Love walks the streets of Snohomish he still gets recognized.
“Even today there’s not a week that goes by, if I’m in Snohomish, where somebody says to me, ‘Hey, weren’t you on that 1970 basketball team?’” said Love, who was a senior co-captain and star center on Snohomish High School’s 1970 boys basketball state championship team. “It’s remembered, especially by the old guard in Snohomish.”
Now the team will be remembered by all of Snohomish County.
Those 1970 Panthers are being honored as one of the county’s greatest teams when they are inducted into the Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame during Wednesday’s banquet at the Edward D. Hansen Conference Center at Xfinity Arena.
The 1970 Snohomish squad will be the sixth high school basketball team to be inducted into the Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame, joining the 1940 Everett boys (inducted in 2012), 1952 and 1953 Monroe boys (2010), 1955 Darrington boys (2016), 1977 Mountlake Terrace boys (2012) and the 2003 and 2004 Meadowdale girls (2013).
That 1970 team, which beat West Seattle 63-62 in the AAA semifinals and Pasco 53-51 in overtime in the finals, remains the only boys basketball state champion in Snohomish school history.
“That was the best team I ever had, by far,” said Jack deKubber, who was Snohomish’s coach from 1962-77 and took the Panthers to state every year from 1967-70.
“We were a team, not a group of individuals,” Love recalled. “We were a team that worked together, regardless of if you were first or second string. When five guys were on the court they worked together, they knew how each other played, we respected each other. No one player was out for his own glory, which is remarkable. I played on a lot of teams and you rarely saw that.”
Snohomish came into the season with high expectations. The previous year the Panthers went 21-4 and reached the AA state quarterfinals. Snohomish’s path was complicated by transitioning to AAA in 1969-70 and having to play against the state’s biggest schools, but the Panthers also had a strong group of returning talent that included seven different players who went on to play a sport in college.
Leading the way was Love, the team’s leading scorer (18.1 points per game heading into the state semifinals) and rebounder, who at 6-foot-8 gave the Panthers a tremendous presence in the middle.
“I don’t think he got the credit he deserved,” teammate Ben Krause said about Love. “When we played West Seattle in the tournament they backed off Doug and we kept shooting. They never came out. I think it took a lot of pressure off of us having a 6-8 guy who could score.”
The Panthers also had a dynamic backcourt duo in Krause and Evan Thomas, both juniors. Krause (12.5) and Thomas (10.4) were both proficient perimeter shooters and both capable ballhandlers.
“I’m as prejudiced as can be, but in all the games I’ve ever watched in state tournaments, that’s the best set of guards that I can remember,” said deKubber, who also described Krause as the best defensive player he ever coached. “There’s been guards who are better, but not two together, and they really came through in the finals.”
Then there was Jerry Ingalls. The senior forward and co-captain wasn’t tall at 6-foot-1, but the football star who earned a scholarship to the University of Washington used his strength to become a ferocious rebounder while also averaging 11.4 points per contest.
“He was an excellent rebounder,” Love said. “When he got the ball no one wanted to touch him. He was a bull and he was sturdy, but he was able to maneuver.”
The starting lineup was rounded out by junior forward Craig Clayton, a glue guy who went on to play tennis at Washington State University. Gordon Taylor was the first player off the bench, while Steve Kirsten and Bob Wahlstrom were Snohomish’s reserve big guys. Tom Poier and Randy Recor, who went on to play baseball in college, were also reserves, while Mark Williams and Tom Bannwarth rounded out the roster.
Bringing it all together was deKubber, who was assisted by the legendary Keith Gilbertson Sr.
“I’ve never seen a guy who could pick up what was going on in a game like him,” Krause said about deKubber. “When he called timeout he always had something pertinent to say. He’s a good guy, too. He wasn’t your buddy, he kept a certain distance, but most good coaches are that way.”
Snohomish rolled through the regular season, going 17-1 in league play. The Panthers lost to Everett in the district tournament, forcing them to beat Cascade to earn the district’s second seed to regionals. Snohomish knocked off Renton 60-51 and Ingraham 64-52 at regionals to reach state, which was played at the University of Washington.
At state the Panthers joined an elite group. Pasco and West Seattle both came into the semifinals undefeated, while Aberdeen’s only loss was to the eventual Oregon state champion.
Snohomish slipped past West Seattle in the semifinals, setting up a meeting with Pasco in the finals. After falling behind early, Snohomish caught back up by halftime, and the Panthers survived a last-second Pasco shot that bounced off the rim to get to overtime tied 43-43.
Early in overtime Snohomish lost Love when he fouled out. But then Thomas and Krause took over as the pair combined for 10 points and didn’t miss a shot. Krause’s steal and feed to Thomas for a breakaway with 30 seconds remaining gave the Panthers a 53-47 lead, rendering two late Pasco baskets — the second of which caused the clock to expire — academic.
“Just the jubilation,” is what Krause remembers most about winning the title. “It was like a kid going to play in the World Series. I know it was only high school basketball, but when we were kids playing on the blacktop, that’s what we would dream about. We’d imagine doing things like that.”
When the Panthers returned to town after the game they were met by a raucous crowd ready to celebrate.
“We came home to hundreds of cars in the parking lots, and there was a caravan that went through town that was maybe two miles long,” deKubber said. “It was 11:30 at night and the horns were blowing and people were calling asking what was going on.”
“I still kind of get goosebumps when I think back to that,” Love said.
“It was a privilege and an honor that we were able to do something like that for the community,” Love concluded about winning the state title. “It was the perfect storm, everything lined up and we were able to pull it off.”
If you have an idea for a community sports story, e-mail Nick Patterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.