Remembering the championship game

1977, what a year. As a freshman at Mount Si and a very nonathletic person who played fourth-chair trumpet in the band, the whole atmosphere of a state championship run was unbelievable. In those days, Snoqualmie and Mount Si High School were considered to be out in the sticks - a small school that rarely had state-level playing experience and never in basketball.

So for each game the band would pack up and follow the team to its next contest. In those days, for me, playing in the band was merely a ticket to the game. And as an insecure freshman, wearing thick glasses with a trumpet in his hands, I admittedly didn't watch much of the games. I was too busy looking at girls, trying to learn the next song or doing the freshman thing, not making eye contact with a senior.

But I do remember the atmosphere and the team, larger than life to many of us from a small community. Most of all I remember the championship game, with the teams battling back and forth, each shot causing a huge noise to erupt from the crowd. Everybody was there and a sense of community permeated the Field House at the University of Puget Sound. It was a great thing.

And the players who made that team will be ingrained in our brains for years to come. The on-court antics and skill of the Beach brothers. The in-school antics of Rene Haydel and coach Beach, always rubbing his hands together, clapping, and if I remember right, a pinky finger that seemed bent in an unusual way. And coach Hepworth, still towering above most of the players, a huge smile on his face and a voice that made most people stop in their tracks when it was raised slightly. He always wore bell-bottom pants, typically corduroy.

So many of us still have vivid memories of each of the players and coaches. A snapshot in time when nothing else mattered but basketball. These days it is pretty rare that we can focus so much attention on one thing and feel that level of pride about the outcome. Thanks to the 1976-1977 Mount Si boys' basketball team for putting us on the hoops map.

Jim McKiernan

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