The Madras High School 1970 boys basketball state championship team was honored at the 3A boys and girls state basketball tournament March 4.
Marshfield High School, the host for the tournament, has long been a site for state basketball championships in Oregon. As a nod to their long history as a host, for the past 12 years they have invited teams that have won championships on that court back to be honored during the championship game of the tournament they are currently hosting.
On March 4, six members of the 1970 Madras team, which powered their way to the title behind center Ron Jones, made their way to Coos Bay and Marshfield High School for the honor. Jones, who went on to play for Oregon State in the early 1970s, was in attendance. Other members of the squad to make it were Danny Martinez, Gary Snow, Willie Stacona, Tom Kathrein and Barry Hatfield.
The 1970 boys squad was the third MHS championship team to be honored at Marshfield, following the 1961 champs and the 1977 girls team.
Marshfield High School athletic director Greg Mulkey said the tradition of honoring a past team "is a highlight of the tournament every year."
"The individuals on the team are introduced at halftime, and we do it like we were introducing them as if they were playing. It's a lot of fun," said Mulkey.
The players from the honored teams are treated with a steak dinner event on Friday before the Saturday championship game. Marshfield honors a boys and girls teams each year, and along with the 1970 White Buffs, this year the 1980 Corbett girls basketball team was honored. What made that honor extra special was that Corbett was playing in this year's final (they lost to Banks).
Before the 1969-70 MHS basketball season, Buff fans likely had a lot enthusiasm. Even though the year before the squad had gone a dismal 2-17, this year's team had two key additions: a new coach in Fred Sandgren, who had coached Rogue River High School, and the 6-4 Jones, who had made second team all-state as a junior while playing for Sandgren at Rogue River. Jones and his family moved to Madras for his senior year.
But with a lot of new to get used to, the Buffs started off 4-3. However, they'd lose only one more game from that point on: that on Jan. 24 to Knappa on the road.
The squad dominated the league, going 8-0, then beat Vale and Enterprise in the district tournament to earn the spot in the 2A state tournament, at Marshfield High School. There, the Buffs beat Myrtle Point 47-38 in the opener, then Sutherlin 82-63 in the semifinal, with Jones netting 37 and grabbing 12 boards. Martinez hit for 17.
Knappa, the last team to beat Madras, waited in the final. Asked in a 2010 interview what his team's mindset was heading into the game, Jones said "Vengeance. Total vengeance. We thought we were homered when we lost up there. We all thought it was good that we were playing them."
The Buffs steam-rolled the Loggers, winning 87-69, despite giving up 28 points in the third quarter.
Jones came off the floor with the championship secured after putting together a fantastic three-day run, scoring the most points in 2A tournament history at that time with 87, shooting 30 for 47 from the field and 27 for 32 from the line.
The Buffs also got strong play during the tournament from guards Martinez, Stacona and Ken Schaffer, plus forward Phil Utter.
Though three other Buffalo teams would finish second in the tournament, the 1970 team was the last boys basketball state championship team Madras has produced.