BHS BASKETBALL: The 1972 team

March 16, 2007 12:00 am

By GERRY STEELE

Baker senior Justin Grigg will have dozens of high school basketball memories to tell his grandchildren.

Grigg, and his Baker teammates, won the Class 4A state boys basketball championship last week. It was the first Baker basketball championship since 1938 when Grigg's great-grandfather, Bob Ott, and his teammates won the title.

Grigg's other great-grandfather is the legendary Baker coach Gary Hammond. Hammond, 87, now resides in a nursing home in Pendleton.

Hammond coached high school basketball for 28 years, the last 17 at Baker High School. He also served as athletic director for many years at BHS. He retired from coaching after the 1972 season. That year his Bulldogs finished second at the Class 4A (now 5A) tournament to Jefferson at Memorial Coliseum. The 1972 team was the ninth Hammond-coached Baker team to qualify for the state tournament.

"I started teaching and coaching in 1940-41, and other than four years in the Navy, I ran tournaments in Idaho," he said after he retired. "And the three years in Washington state before coming to Baker was probably the only time I haven't been committed to a tournament."

Before coming to Baker, Hammond coached three years at Pullman, Wash., and seven years at Genesee, Idaho. At Genesee, he coached one state championship team, two second place teams, and three third place teams.

His lifetime coaching record is 565-171.

All in the family

State championship Bulldog post Grant Johnson's dad, Mark, was a reserve on Hammond's 1972 team. He played in six games that season.

Other notable Bulldogs

Also members of that 1972 team were Baker County Commission Chairman Fred Warner and Baker City residents Rick Scrivner, Randy Daugherty, Wes Morgan, Tim Wood and Greg Sackos. Assistant Coach John Heriza is also a Baker City resident.

A fitting retirement present

Hammond announced his retirement following the 1972 championship game. The Bulldogs finished that season 19-7.

2005 recap

Baker's 2005 Bulldogs also finished second in the Class 3A tournament, losing to Wilsonville in the title game.

Craig Woods was the coach of that team, and current Bulldogs Luke Sells and Grant Johnson were members of that squad.

Johnson's brother, Kyle, also was a member of the team as was Matt Bunch, older brother of current Bulldog Mark Bunch.

Close but not quite

The Bulldogs have come close to claiming the title on three other occasions, taking second in 1943, 1972 and 2005.

In 1943 Klamath Union defeated the Bulldogs 52-28. Baker lost 59-52 to Jefferson in 1972, and 44-33 to Wilsonville in 2005. The Klamath Union and Jefferson games were at the old 4A level, the Wilsonville at the old 3A level.

Baker also finished third in 1942 and 1966, fourth in 1940, and won the consolation title in 1941, all at the old 4A level. The Bulldogs took fifth at the 3A tournament in 2002.

The 1966 finish was the best Baker finish since the 1943 second-place finish.