Boys basketball: Broomfield set to honor 1967 champs on Friday

  • Courtesy photo

    The 1967 AA state champion Broomfield Eagles. The team will be honored before Friday's boys basketball game.

  • Courtesy photo

    The Broomfield Eagles celebrate after winning the 1967 AA state championship. The team will be honored before Friday's boys basketball game.



1967 Broomfield Eagles roster

Doug Babson

Ken Dietz

Randy Duncan

Jerry Fithian

Rick Green

Dan Morton

Dave Pfeifer

Gary Sanderson

Dave Taylor

Erik Walkinshaw

Larry Webster

Brent Wilcox

Coach: Al Gardner

Schedule (17-5)

at College High, L 57-55

Idaho Springs, W 55-38

Fort Lupton, W 77-40

at Castle Rock, L 66-54

Denver Christian, L 69-61

Louisville, W 76-46

at Berthoud, W 83-49

at Evergreen, W 58-55

at Lafayette, L 54-52

at Sheridan, L 53-31

Idaho Springs, W 82-76

Castle Rock, W 64-50

Denver Lutheran, W 57-37

at Louisville, W 66-49

Evergreen, W 57-39

Lafayette, W 54-44

Louisville, W 65-41

Lafayette, W 50-43

Sheridan, W 59-58 (OT)

Salida, W 69-45*

Crowley County, W 56-44*

Yuma, W 54-47*

* – State tournament games at Denver Auditorium Arena

BROOMFIELD — In 1967, Broomfield High School was eight years old and the town itself was just a small dot on the map.

At least that’s how the rest of Colorado viewed it back then.

But a three-day stretch in March of that year at the Denver Auditorium Arena forever changed the landscape of sports at Broomfield, and set in motion one of the most storied athletic programs on the Front Range.

“We were Hoosiers 20 years before that movie came out,” said Larry Webster from his home in North Carolina.

After starting the season a mediocre 5-5, the Eagles — under the direction of coach Al Gardner — ran the table and claimed the schools first state basketball title with a 54-47 victory over Yuma.

On Friday, before the current Eagles try and keep their postseason hopes alive against Rocky Mountain, the school will honor and celebrate the 50th anniversary with all 12 members — from all over the country — set to be on hand for the festivities.

“It’s just amazing looking back at those 50 years, wondering where did all that time go? It’ll be special and it says a lot about the guys that made up this team,” said Brent Wilcox, who still resides in Broomfield. “Everybody was a contributor, everybody was a stand-up guy and it was just neat to be around them.”

To a man, each and every member of the squad say the turning point of that magical season came in a loss to what the local media at the time perceived as the team to beat, Castle Rock.

“We went down there and thought we were just going to get crushed,” said Webster, who went on to play college ball at Boston University. “We played horrible and they played pretty well and they didn’t beat us by much.

“And I just remember that bus ride home, coach Gardner was in a real good mood and we knew he was just going to kill us.”

Gardner had seen the potential of his young men that Friday night and after arriving home at 11 p.m., he had them back in the Wilkerson Gym at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning to start running suicides.

He told them then and there, that they were going to win a state title if they just played like they were capable of playing.

“We all kind of looked at each other and thought, how crazy was that,” said Wilcox, who would hit the game-winning home run later that spring in the Eagles 1-0 AA baseball title over Valley. “And that’s what happened.”

The Eagles would go on to win 12 straight games to close out the season, including a win-or-go home game against Sheridan 59-58 that punched their ticket to the state tournament.

Much like that scene in Hoosiers, when they get to the arena and had to measure the basket to make sure it was 10 feet, the Eagles were a little awestruck by the big dark arena and Wilcox recalled that Gardner only had them warm-up with shots from three feet in to get acclimated to the gym.

It paid off, and the Eagles blew out Salida and Crowley County before the title shot against the defending state runners-up from Yuma, who many thought were just going to roll.

“We were playing so well at the time,” Webster said, “it didn’t even matter who was out there.”

The reunion was the brainchild of a trio of current Eagles staffers, including current coach Terrence Dunn, athletic secretary Charlene Orvis and athletic director Autumn Sereno.

“One of the great things about Broomfield High School is this history of the school, the history of success and the community that we are a part of,” Dunn said. It’s been a fun thing to do and put together and Charlene has been instrumental in putting it together and to have them all here will be incredible.”

Jon Yunt: or