2005-06 Hall of Fame News

  • Finally, a place to call home.

    Friday, December 01, 2006
    By Tom Kendra

    Kenny Lane was asked how he liked the new Muskegon Recreational Center in the heart of the Jackson Hill area, which is the first true home for the Muskegon Area Boxing Club in more than 30 years.

    "Oh, it will be fine," said Lane, 74, the great southpaw who fought for the lightweight championship of the world in the 1960s and has spent the rest of his life teaching Muskegon kids his craft.

    "It'll keep me off the streets."

    It's a good thing that 'ol Kenny has a sense of humor.

    The Muskegon Area Boxing Club has been jerked around like a snagged salmon for the last quarter of a century, moving from one bombed-out building to another all over town as Lane and other dedicated coaches like Jack Crowell and Terry Markowski tried to teach kids how to box, how to work hard and how to listen (not necessarily in that order).

    Inevitably, as soon as the club got comfortable and established in one place, they would get booted for fire code violations or because the building had been sold.

    The past few years, the club's coaches and top fighters were forced to drive to Grand Rapids a couple of times a week to train in a facility there.

    Knowing the club's tough-luck history helped explain the euphoria of Thursday night, when the Muskegon Recreational Center at Smith Ryerson Playground at 550 Wood Street -- the new home of the Muskegon Area Boxing Club and several other youth organizations -- had a grand opening celebration for the public.

    While about 20 area kids were boxing on the north side of the building, a quick tour of the previously underutilized building showed city leaders and business owners that the new rec center is much more than a boxing gym.

    The main room is a meeting area for the Webster House Outreach program and other community organizations, with a separate game room and even a study room with five computers with Internet access. The facility will serve as a "drop-in center" for youths and young adults in the 14- to 24-year-old age group, according to building managers Matt Kolkema and Emilio Trejo, who are both City of Muskegon police officers.

    For Kolkema, who has been working for the past two years to make the rec center a reality, the motivation was more personal.

    "Kenny is the inspiration for this whole thing," said Kolkema, who trained under Lane as a kid and now has two children who are members of the Muskegon Area Boxing Club.

    "He has donated his time and talent to this town for 30 years. The least we can do is give him a place to teach kids."

    Lane, as is his nature, tried to avoid the spotlight on Thursday night. He is known as something of an eccentric for his training methods and he relishes the underdog role, from the day he fought Joe Brown for the world lightweight championship to the past 30 years, when he regularly brought fighters from makeshift gyms to big boxing shows all over the state.

    I'll never forget two years ago, when Lane brought Rocky Smith out to California to fight unbeaten Nick Cook from Indiana.

    No one from ESPN2, which was airing the bout to a national audience on "Friday Night Fights," knew that the Muskegon Area Boxing Club had just been ordered out of its corner of the old Muskegon Piston Ring factory off of Laketon by the fire department. Lane was literally training Smith in the streets leading up to the biggest fight of his life.

    That's what made it so exciting when Smith, a huge underdog, feeding off the sage advice of the legendary Lane in his corner, knocked out Cook on national TV.

    I remember thinking at the time: "I wonder what Kenny Lane could do if he actually had a decent gym to work in."

    Now we'll find out.

    In addition to a facility with a permanent ring and a nice array of heavy bags, speed bags and other boxing equipment, Lane and the other coaches also have a group of outstanding boxers, led by young brothers Fred and Joel Flores of Hart, Raeese Aleem of Ravenna and Johnny Garcia of Muskegon.

    "Now the pressure is on," conceded Lane, pulling on a pair of training gloves as he worked with a young fighter about 12 years old.

    "I better start turning out champions now or they'll run me out of town."

    That will never happen, Kenny.

    Especially now that you've got a home.

    'Ike' was hard-hitting on field, in air

    Saturday, October 07, 2006
    By Dave LeMieux

    Muskegon's Ira C. "Ike" Kepford was the highest-scoring ace in the Navy's best fighter squadron of World War II.

    "He was the lead ace in our squadron, but he was just one of the guys," said fellow Navy flyer Hal Jackson from his home in Denton, Tex.

    "We were all real close to one another," said Jackson, who served with Kepford in VF-17.

    Kepford, a Muskegon High School and college football star who died in 1987, will be enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame tonight at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo.

    Kepford's "Jolly Rogers" squadron shot down 156 Japanese planes and sank five ships during five months of combat in the South Pacific.

    Kepford flew more than 200 combat missions between Nov. 11, 1943, and Feb. 19, 1944, shooting down 16 planes during six of those sorties.

    From the start, Kepford always was a guy who stood out from the crowd.

    He was captain of Muskegon High's state championship football team in 1937 and captain of Northwestern's nationally ranked football team from 1939 to 1941.

    Kepford cut short his playing career and joined the Naval Reserve during halftime of the Illinois game in the fall of 1941, before the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

    After the war, Kepford rose through the business ranks, ending his career as president of Liggett-Rexall Drug Co.

    Kepford weighed 135 pounds soaking wet when he reported to Hackley Stadium in 1935 to try out for a spot on legendary Coach C. Leo Redmond's powerhouse Big Red football team, former Northwestern teammate Ade Schummacher remembered in a 1967 Chicago Tribune obituary.

    Despite his size, Kepford hit like a ton of bricks, Schummacher said.

    The aggressive, competitive spirit was shared by the other pilots in the Jolly Rogers, Jackson said.

    "We had a good leader in Tommy Blackburn. We didn't mind mixing it up. The main thing was to hit (the enemy) hard."

    Kepford told of Lt. Cdr. John T. "Tommy" Blackburn's combat philosophy in a wartime interview in the Chicago Daily News -- "Don't walk a wire! Do something! Do it quickly! Make up your minds!"

    The crusty Blackburn insisted on teamwork from his pilots, Kepford said, and wouldn't stand for any "Lone Ranger" tactics.

    "He had the right idea, too," Kepford told the Daily News. "I don't know of a single guy in our outfit who hasn't picked some (enemy fighter) off a pal's tail before a battle was over."

    Although Blackburn gave Kepford and the rest of VF-17's pilots free reign on the ground, the skipper was a tyrant in the air.

    Blackburn gave his top ace a good chewing out for the "recklessness and over-confidence" that earned Kepford the Navy's Gold Star on a Jan. 29, 1944, mission to Rabaul.

    Kepford and Howard "Teeth" Burriss were flying high cover on the mission.

    Although their wingmen had turned back with engine trouble, Kepford and Burriss dove on a dozen enemy planes that were setting up an attack on the low-flying U.S. bombers and fighters.

    Kepford and Burriss shot down four enemy planes each with a perfectly executed series of diving and climbing attacks.

    Kepford had earned his first Navy Cross in the Battle of the Solomon Sea, on Nov. 11, 1943, just 10 days after the squadron entered combat.

    Kepford's land-based squadron was patrolling over the aircraft carrier Bunker Hill, when it was attacked by Japanese bombers.

    Kepford flew through the Bunker Hill's anti-aircraft fire and shot down a torpedo plane less than 1,000 yards from the ship.

    Kepford escaped from the friendly fire unscathed and shot down three other dive bombers. Nearly out of fuel, he was forced to land his large 12,000-pound Corsair on the Bunker Hill.

    While the crew refueled and re-armed Kepford's plane, the Bunker Hill's captain served him a cup of coffee.

    Although the Marines of Maj. Gregory "Pappy" Boyington's VMF-214 "Black Sheep" Squadron earned an enduring reputation as hellions, the "Jolly Rogers" were every bit as rambunctious, according to reports.

    Kepford was no exception, running afoul of the Navy's brass even before the squadron left the States.

    Kepford spent 10 days confined to his barracks after a mock dogfight with an Army P-51 over downtown Norfolk.

    Kepford often was praised for his teamwork and never seemed to lack self-confidence on the football field.

    Training for war was something else again. After two of Kepford's roommates were killed in training accidents less than two weeks apart, he wrote a note to Schummacher on the back of a laundry slip, "I don't know whether I'll ever be able to get used to this."

    Later, in the Pacific, the rigors of flying two combat missions a day for weeks at a time took a toll.

    "You never shake off the feeling of insecurity," Kepford said in 1944. "It's like knowing you're being watched all the time."

    Kepford recalled the day Ensign Thad "Jug" Bell was shot down.

    Bell was under attack by eight enemy planes when he radioed Kepford for help.

    Kepford shot down two planes, then banked to see Bell's plane plunging straight down, another fighter on his tail.

    "I got close enough to give the (enemy) the guns and he blew up like a firecracker," Kepford said. "I could see Bell down below and I kept waiting for him to pull out. He never did. He disappeared straight into the sea.

    "I wanted to cry out loud."

    Following the war, Kepford rose quickly through the business ranks. By the time he was 30 he was vice president of Liggett Drug Co. with a swank office in New York City.

    At 37, he was named president of Liggett and later retired as president of Liggett-Rexall Drug Co. in the late 1960s.

    He was involved in several plastics firms in New Jersey and Connecticut for a decade following his retirement.

    He and his wife, Esther, retired to Harbor Springs in 1978.

    Twenty years of memories
    for local Hall

    Thursday, June 03, 2006
    By Tom Kendra

    The Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame has come a long way in the past 20 years.

    Actually, the idea of honoring and remembering the area's athletic greats is a few years older than that.

    It was a ex-Chronicle sports writer Dick Hedges who pushed for the idea of a local Hall of Fame and beamed with pride as the original seven inductees joined the organization on May 24, 1987.

    If only he could see it now.

    Hedges died in 1994, but the current 14-member Hall of Fame board of directors says continued his vision and taken the organization to new heights.

    Tonight, the local sports hall will induct basketball great kelp a.m. and the Muskegon Heights football teams of 1945, 1946 and 1947 as it's 20th class of inductees in a ceremony at the Holiday Inn-Muskegon Harbor. Joining them will be Distinguished Service Award winners Jerry Porter and student-athlete honorees Rickey Anderson of Muskegon Heights and Vanessa King of Spring Lake.

    The non-profit MASHF, launched with the support of the Muskegon Chronicle and Muskegon County Museum, has stayed true to the mission of recognizing and remembering outstanding athletic accomplishments of Muskegon-area sports figures.

    "We are all so proud of this organization," said MASHF President Gene Young, who succeeded Hedges as the head of the hall in 1994.

    "It's a lot of great people with a lot of great skills that really care about this town. That's what makes this Hall of Fame continue to stay alive and evolve. "

    Past and Present
    At first, it was just seven plaques on a hallway.

    Today, the MASHF is a seemingly endless string of display cases packed with memorabilia on the otherwise plain walls of the concourse encircling the L.C. Walker Arena in downtown Muskegon-the hub of the area's sports scene.

    Observing the contents of the eight display cases is a walk down memory lane for sports nuts.

    There is a football from Super Bowl IX, which was officiated by 1994 inductee Dick Dolack. In another case is a program from a Muskegon Lassies baseball game from 1947, a team which featured Donna and Doris Cook. Look further and see an original Snurfer board, invented by 2001 inductee Sherman Poppen.

    The list goes on and on.

    It was the accumulation of that memorabilia, as the of hall ' s numbers increased, which forced the MASHF to move in from its original home in the Muskegon County Museum to the downtown arena.

    The Walker Arena Manager Tony Lisman has said the addition of the Hall of Fame has been a "win-win" situation for both the arena and the MASHF, and he has noted large groups of fans checking out the exhibits during intermissions at Muskegon hockey games and other arena events.

    The displays and plaques for each inductees are meticulously maintained, updated and dusted by a group that Young calls the "Gang of Five" - MASHF board members Bill Duplissis and Bob Page along with Matt Duplissis, Bob Ludwig and Mark Okkonen.

    Young said the key to the success of the local hall is having those types of board members, people who give tirelessly in their own area of expertise.

    Perhaps the most visible is treasurer Jim Moyes, who spends months preparing for his yearly duty as the irrepressible emcee of the induction banquet.

    No one works harder on behalf of the MASHF then Secretary Ron Pesch whose has been instrumental in the development and updating of the organization's web site-www.mashf.com-and researching potential inductees.

    Vice-President John Arter, with a big assist from board member Tom Kampenga coordinates the tickets for the banquet, which this year could top the 400 mark.

    Mike Mack coordinates the annual Hall of Fame Basketball Classic in December, Cindy Fairfield is in charge of the 16-page program for the banquet and Kampenga and Page organize the hall's "Party in the Park".

    Other active board members are Duplissis Floyd Cook Jr., Al Nichols, Tom Stribley, Jack VanSchelven and Steve Hoffman, who recently replaced longtime member Mary Ullmer

    "I'm the guy who gets quoted in the paper,but it's all of these people with all of their unique talents, which make this thing work, " said Young, 64, a retired administrator from Fruitport schools and a longtime sports radio personality.

    The future
    A major concern when the MASHF was launched in 1986 was running out of quality candidates to induct.

    However, board members say that even after 20 years they still have a list of 40-50 "strong nominees"- with more being added every year.

    "There are still some real heavy hitters out there that will eventually be inducted," said Moyes, who has attended all 19 ceremonies, "but they have to be worthy, that's one thing I will say. This board will not put someone in just because they're a friend or a nice guy. "

    The MASHF currently includes 85 members, five teams, 15 Distinguished Service Award winners and 20 student-athlete award winners.

    The hall began honoring a Distinguished Service Award winner in 1991, for someone who made a major contribution to sports in the area, but not as an athlete. In 1996, the Hall began honoring the area's top male and female high-school senior student-athletes.

    The local hall gained national attention in 1998, when it hosted the annual convention of the International Association of Sports Museums and Halls of Fame.

    Young said three of the ongoing concerns for the future of the MASHF are funding, technology and access.

    The hall is funded by sponsorship from area businesses and small earnings from the annual banquet and the annual holiday basketball tournament - in which more than the $10,000 is returned to the four competing schools each year.

    One major fund raiser is the MASHF's upcoming " Party in the Park" on June 16th at Hackley Park in downtown Muskegon.

    The hall took a major step into the future with the launch of its own Web site last year, allowing the world to access Muskegon sports history.

    Young said a goal of the Hall is to add technology to displays at the Walker Arena, perhaps with video clips of great plays or short shows on the area's best players and teams.

    In terms the public access to the MASHF, Young acknowledges that the move to the Walker Arena concourse has been a double edged sword.

    On one hand, having the displays visible at hockey games, graduation ceremonies and other community events provides a captive audience of people that might not have visited a separate Hall of Fame storefront. On the other hand, the Walker Arena is closed for long stretches, particularly in the summer months when many tourists are in town, preventing people from seeing the exhibits.

    "We are working to get a number of set dates for public viewing, when board members will be there to give tours," said Young.

    "We have great things down here and we want everyone to see it, enjoy it, talk about it and remember it. That's what this organization is all about."

    Tatum: Muskegon-Heights rivalry was special

    Thursday, June 01, 2006
    By Tom Kendra

    One of Cal Tatum's earliest memories is shoveling the snow off the driveway of his family's home in the Jackson Hill area of Muskegon so that he could play basketball.

    Tatum was one of nine children, and his family would have some terrific battles in the freezing conditions for nothing more than bragging rights.

    "We just wanted a chance to play," recalled Tatum, 55, who now lives in the Bay area of California in San Pablo. "Snow, ice and cold -- none of that stuff ever bothered us much back then."

    Of all the Tatums who have starred in sports in the Muskegon area, Cal Tatum soared the highest, earning all-state basketball honors at Muskegon High School in 1969 and then All-American honors at Southern Colorado in 1972 and 1973.

    Tatum will soar into the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday at the hall's 20th annual induction ceremony at the Holiday Inn-Muskegon Harbor.

    A hot topic of conversation on Saturday night surely will be the long and storied rivalry between Muskegon and Muskegon Heights, with Tatum representing the Big Reds and the three undefeated football teams of 1945, 1946 and 1947 representing the Tigers.

    In addition, Distinguished Service Award winner Jerry Porter is a Muskegon High graduate and male student-athlete honoree Ricky Anderson is from Muskegon Heights.

    The only one of Saturday's inductees without a direct connection to either Muskegon or Muskegon Heights is female student-athlete winner Vanessa King of Spring Lake, but her father, David King, was a standout pitcher at Muskegon.

    "What sticks out the most in my mind is the great rivalry we had with Muskegon Heights," said Tatum, who graduated in 1969 as the Big Reds' all-time leading scorer with 1,250 points, an average of 22.7 points per game. "Great games, but I think we got the better of them in my years there."

    Tatum, a 6-1 guard, was a three-year varsity standout who improved each year for Muskegon basketball coach Mike Murphy.

    He was fourth team all-state as a sophomore, second team all-state as a junior and first team all-state as a senior, when he averaged 22.4 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals.

    Tatum took his all-around basketball skills -- a rare mix of speed, ball-handling, jumping and long-range shooting -- to Southern Colorado in Pueblo, Colo., where he was a four-year starter for the Indians.

    Despite playing in an era before the 3-point shot, he is still Southern Colorado's all-time leading scorer with 2,143 points. He is also the sixth-leading rebounder in school history with 805.

    After graduation, Tatum played with a traveling basketball team all over the world, eventually settling in California in 1975, where he has remained ever since.

    Tatum is retired from the U.S. Department of Defense and currently works for the U.S. Postal Service. He is also involved with his church, running basketball camps for children and Men of Vison, a real estate investment company.

    One thing he doesn't do any more is play basketball.

    "Oh no, I run and exercise a little bit, but I don't play any basketball," said Tatum, who was one of the first inductees into the Southern Colorado Basketball Hall of Fame.

    "I love to teach the game to kids, especially to underprivileged kids who may not have a chance to learn it anywhere else. The game taught me so much. Passing it on to kids is my way of giving something back."

    Tatum, who will attend Saturday's ceremony with his wife, Marilyn, has one daughter and one stepson.

    Tatum will have another connection at Saturday's event as his nephew, Ricky Anderson of Muskegon Heights, will receive the male student-athlete award early in the evening.


    Sonny day for parade

    Thursday, May 11, 2006

    MARCHING: Former Michigan State football standout
    Sonny Grandelius marched in the Volksparade Wednesday
    as a guest of The Sentinel.
    Sentinel/Dennis R.J. Geppert

    Sonny Grandelius, The Sentinel's guest for Wednesday's Volksparade, brought smiles to several local residents and Volksparade tourists.

    Grandelius, a former Michigan State great in football, is a member of the 2006 Michigan Sports Hall of Fame class.

    "He was a great player at Michigan State," said Tim McAuliffe of Holland.

    McAuliffe surprised Grandelius by greeting him by his "real" first name, Everett.

    "No one calls me that," Grandelius said. "Not even my mother or any of my teachers when I was in school."

    McAuliffe surprised Grandelius when Tim McAuliffe told him he was the son of Don McAuliffe, one of his former MSU teammates

    "He was the featured back after (Grandelius) graduated and went on to the pros," McAuliffe said.

    Grandelius, an all-state running back at Muskegon Heights, played in high school against some of Holland's better-known players, including Don Piersma, Ken Bauman and Lawrence McCormick.

    The former MSU All-American running back led Muskegon Heights to two of their three straight state championships.

    "That was before they had playoffs," Grandelius said.

    "I had a great time in high school and in college.

    Grandelius said being part of Muskegon Heights amazing 28 consecutive winning streak and beating both Michigan and Notre Dame during the 1950 season were two of his many athletic playing highlights.

    Muskegon Heights was a football power when Grandelius played under legendary coach Okie Johnson. Everyone of those games was played at Muskegon's Hackley Stadium and before crowds up to 15,000 people, Grandelius said.

    "Basketball is now the No. 1 sport at Heights, but football was the No. 1 sport for many, many years," he said.

    Grandelius went on to a successful coaching career after his playing days. He led the University of Colorado to a 1961 Orange Bowl victory. He was also named Big 8 Coach of the Year that season.

    "I had a very good time at Colorado," Grandelius said. "I really liked all the places I coached."

    Grandelius also spent some time in the National Football League as an assistant coach with Philadelphia and Detroit. He played one NFL season with the 1956 league champion New York Giants.

    "That was before they had the Super Bowl," said Grandelius, who became a popular color analyst with the Mutual Broadcasting System.

    Grandelius said he enjoyed working as a color analyst and had an opportunity this fall to team up in the Spartans radio booth with George Blaha.

    "I thought about it, but I'm just busy (owning Spalding Auto) to make that kind of time commitment," Grandelius said.

    Sanders helps Tigers edge fired-up Reds

    Saturday, December 31, 2005
    By Scott Brandenburg

    One of the most memorable Muskegon vs. Muskegon Heights basketball games in history was played on Friday night.

    There were 3,216 lucky fans who packed the Reeths-Puffer gymnasium to see the fourth installment of the renewed series between the neighboring rivals go down to the wire in the final game of the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame Basketball Classic.

    Just when local basketball enthusiasts were wondering if the Big Reds would ever challenge the Tigers after three straight convincing wins for the orange-and-black, Muskegon reared up and nearly shocked everyone.

    The Big Reds controlled the game until the very end, when Muskegon Heights rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit for a thrilling 73-68 win to up their recent perfect mark over Muskegon to 4-0.

    "This was very intense," said Tigers senior center Edward Sanders, who pumped in 23 points to lead the comeback. "It was just like a state championship. This will be good for us to play in games like this to get us ready for the playoffs."

    Muskegon Heights improves to 5-2 and Muskegon drops to 1-6.

    Most felt the Tigers would easily dispatch of the Big Reds, who have struggled mightily at times this season and needed a 31-point fourth quarter to beat winless Grand Haven on Thursday.

    The Big Reds showed they are a very capable team, especially when cross-town bragging rights are on the line.

    "I think most people were pointing at their record and saying it wouldn't be a game but I knew it was going to be tough," said Heights coach Keith Guy. "You throw the records out in this game. (Muskegon coach) Bernard Loudermill does a great job of getting his kids ready to play and they made it very tough on us today.

    "I just thank God He gave us an opportunity to come back and win the game."

    The Big Reds had the Tigers on the ropes for most of the game.

    After Heights took a 7-4 lead starting guard Timothy Hood and reserves Tommie Tatum and Bobby Miller took control with their aggressive play.

    Hood poured in 23 points and Tatum and Miller added 15 points apiece for the Big Reds, who forced 23 Tiger turnovers.

    Muskegon sprinted to a 17-10 lead late in the first quarter it maintained through the third quarter, which ended with the maroon-and-white up 55-47.

    "They're starting to believe in themselves and each other," said Loudermill. "They played together as a team. One of the reasons why Muskegon Heights won today is they're an extremely battle-tested team. We're hoping we can take this loss and learn from it."

    With time running out and bragging rights slipping away the Tigers turned to ther big guns and they delivered.

    Seniors Ricky Anderson, David Fox and Sanders scored 13 of Heights' next 19 points as they rallied to retake the lead at 66-65 with 2:14 to play.

    "I looked at each one of the (three seniors) and told them 'It's time to step up, you've been here before'," said Guy. "That's why I pulled them up as sophomores two years ago, for situations like this now. It was time to get a return on my investment."

    It was a back-and-forth next couple minutes but the Tigers prevailed on free throws.

    Muskegon shot 3-for-9 from the line in the fourth quarter while the Tigers were 4-of-5 in the fourth quarter, including two from Fox which sealed the game with two seconds left.

    Anderson and Stedman Briggs each totaled 14 points, including all six of Heights' 3-pointers, and Sanders recorded 14 rebounds and seven blocks to lead the Tigers.

    "Muskegon came out hard, harder than us," said Sanders. "I think we were all trying to rush our shots, I was rushing my shots, in the hype of the game. At halftime coach told us to calm down, play defense and box out.

    "In the end Ricky caught fire, Stedman caught fire and I was just trying to get rebound after rebound until we got the win. We never lost faith."

    Reeths-Puffer 42, Grand Haven 38 -- Reeths-Puffer could have dwelled on Thursday night's embarrassing 40-point loss to Muskegon Heights in the opening round of the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame Basketball Classic.

    Instead, the Rockets brushed aside any possible ill affects Friday with a 42-38 win over Grand Haven in the consolation match.

    The hosts came out hot and never trailed in the contest against the Bucs, who are still searching for their first win of the season.

    "I didn't doubt for a second these kids would bounce back and play hard," said Reeths-Puffer coach Tim Mitchelson after his team improved to 2-4. "I told them in the shootaround that you have to get back up after getting pounded down, and they showed a lot of character in coming back."

    Several Rockets turned in key performances to help their team get back on the winning track.

    Reeths-Puffer's biggest quarter proved to be the second quarter, when reserve Ryan Hanson came in and demonstrated a smooth shooting stroke.

    Hanson made all four of his field goal attempts, including two 3-pointers, and scored all 10 of his points in the last four minutes of the second stanza to help the Rockets to a 25-16 halftime lead.

    "Ryan's a very good shooter," said Mitchelson. "As soon as he gets some defensive things figured out he's going to be a very good player for us. He hit some clutch shots to give us the spread we needed."

    The Rockets held on thanks in part to the tough inside defense of 6-4 junior Chris Fiebelkorn and 11 points from senior guard Sean Wright.

    Grand Haven (0-5) could not find its shooting touch all game, but still managed to pull within 40-37 with 33 seconds to left.

    D.J. Miller and Ricky Fleming were the only consistent offensive performers for the Bucs with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

    "We really got off to a poor start," said Bucs coach Steve Hewitt. "We didn't look very enthusiastic about playing. They did a good job of packing it in on defense, and we weren't patient enough to take advantage of it."

    Puffer shot 39 percent from the floor to Haven's 31-percent effort.

    Big Reds post first win; Heights rolls past R-P

    Friday, December 30, 2005
    By Scott Brandenburg

    Grand Haven and Muskegon were both hoping to use the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame's Fourth Annual Basketball Classic as a springboard to the rest of the season.

    Neither team came into their matchup Thursday at Reeths-Puffer High School with a win. For three quarters, it looked like the Bucs would be the team to emerge with that elusive first victory.

    But the Big Reds ended up stealing the show.

    Down 38-27 entering the fourth quarter and struggling offensively, Muskegon suddenly found its rhythm to hit for 31 points and top the Bucs 58-48.

    Instead of being 0-6 and still searching for answers, the Big Reds are 1-5 and sensing a turnaround.

    They hope it continues tonight against Muskegon Heights, which spanked Reeths-Puffer 66-17 in Thursday's other game. Tickets for that much-awaited game and the Grand Haven-Reeths-Puffer contest to open the night will go on sale at 5 p.m. at the Reeths-Puffer ticket booth.

    "There are more games to focus on, but it feels good to get that monkey off our back," said sophomore guard Tovales Allaway, who struck for 12 of his game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter. "It was a long time waiting for this win. This should get us going."

    Grand Haven, meanwhile, finds itself 0-4 after coming within eight disastrous minutes of notching win No. 1.

    Having that snatched away by a 31-10 fourth-quarter deficit definitely left a bad taste for the Bucs.

    "Yeah, I think the way we lost makes this one hurt even more than the rest of them," said Haven forward D.J. Miller. "It was ours. It's tough to lose it the way we did at the end. We stopped defending, we let them get into their press and we turned the ball over."

    The Bucs committed 30 turnovers, with eight coming in the final quarter when the Big Reds made them pay.

    Allaway and senior guard led Muskegon's comeback, combining for 24 points in the quarter and leading the full-court pressure which eventually did in the Bucs.

    Muskegon looked like a completely different team in the final eight minutes.

    "I believe they were really thinking too much out there," said Muskegon coach Bernard Loudermill. "They were just dribbling twice and then looking to pass the ball. I told them you can still be aggressive and shoot and still be a team player and they were able to cut loose in the fourth quarter."

    Every time Allaway got the ball, he was able to penetrate and either make a basket, shooting 5-of-6 from the field, or get to the line, where he made 4-of-5 free throws in the final quarter.

    "I didn't feel like the guy that was guarding me could hold me," said Allaway. "He was a good player, but he was sagging down a little and I decided to take advantage of it."

    Muskegon caught the Bucs midway through the fourth quarter, then fell behind again before finally grabbing the lead for good with 2:23 to play.

    The Big Reds, who got 13 points from Hood and 10 points from senior Tommie Tatum, scored the last nine points of the game.

    Miller scored 12 points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting from the field and the foul line and added eight rebounds to lead the Bucs. Ricky Fleming tallied 10 points and Jake Pimm recorded six rebounds for Haven, which shot 50 percent from the floor.

    "I think the guys panicked a little bit when they lost that double-digit lead and the wheels fell off," said Bucs' coach Steve Hewitt. "It was hard to regain that edge. We had a chance to extend our lead with some free throws, but missed. Those are huge when you're trying to finish a game."

    Muskegon Heights 66, Reeths-Puffer 17 -- In Game 2, Muskegon Heights led 10-7 late in the first quarter before exploding for the easy victory over the Rockets. The Tigers scored the last four points of the quarter before rolling to a 24-4 advantage in the second quarter and a 38-11 halftime lead.

    Contributions from the entire Heights lineup led to a 21-0 blanking in the third quarter and a running clock. "It's nice to be in a game like this once in a while," said Muskegon Heights coach Keith Guy, whose squad improved to 4-2.

    "We knew the first five games were going to be challenging and it's helped us find out where we're at. I love that we have 13 guys who can give us a lift and I thought everybody played with a lot of energy tonight."

    Eleven Tigers scored, including seven who had six or more points. Senior center Ed Sanders scored 11 points, Lou Williams grabbed 10 rebounds and David Fox added five steals to lead the Tigers, who shot 50 percent from the field. Reeths-Puffer shot 26 percent and was outrebounded 39-14.

    "In the first quarter, I thought we were doing a good job of controlling the tempo and not letting them get off to the races," said R-P coach Tim Mitchelson. "What happened is they grabbed 19 offensive rebounds and got over 30 points off second shots. You're not going to hang with a team like Heights doing that."


    All about teams, Tatum

    Tuesday, January 10, 2006
    By Tom Kendra

    Muskegon Heights is now known across the state as a basketball powerhouse.

    But that wasn't always the case.

    Before the basketball state championships started piling up in the 1950s, Heights was a high school football juggernaut -- particularly in the mid-1940s, when the Tigers went undefeated three years in a row and won mythical state championships in 1945, 1946 and 1947.

    A Distinguished Service Award winner, presented to an individual who made an outstanding contribution to sports in the area but not as an athlete, will be announced in February. A male and female Student-Athlete of the Year will be named in May.

    The local sports hall was formed in 1986 to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of Muskegon-area sports figures. The hall is located on the concourse of the L.C. Walker Arena.

    The MASHF currently includes 85 members, five teams, 15 Distinguished Service Award winners and 20 Student-Athlete award winners.

    The hall started honoring the area's top high school student athletes in 1996 and bridged the gap to the younger generation the past three years by hosting the Hall of Fame Classic high school basketball tournament during Christmas break.

    Here's a thumbnail sketch of the Class of 2006 inductees.

    Cal Tatum
    Cal Tatum came from a family of basketball players, but he proved to be the best and most successful of all.

    Tatum made his mark at Muskegon High School in the late 1960s at the height of the Vietnam War, amazing fans with his combination of speed, ball-handling, jumping and amazing long-range shooting.

    "For his size, I've never seen an athlete who is so proficient in so many phases of the game," said then-Muskegon coach Mike Murphy after Tatum earned Class A all-state honors in 1969.

    Tatum, a 6-1 guard, averaged 22.4 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals per game in his senior year to earn first team all-state honors. He was fourth team all-state as a sophomore and second team all-state as a junior.

     The two most recognizable figures off those great Heights teams -- star running back Everett "Sonny" Grandelius and innovative and legendary coach Oscar "Okie" Johnson -- were two of the original seven inductees into the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame back in 1987.

    Since then, fellow team members Tom Johnson, Frank Howell, John Nedeau and James Dodson (who served Heights for years as an unpaid trainer and equipment manager) also haven been enshrined into the local sports hall.

    Now, the MASHF will enshrine the entire Heights teams from 1945, 1946 and 1947 at the 20th induction ceremony on June 3 at the Holiday Inn-Muskegon Harbor in downtown Muskegon.

    "Heights was good at everything in those days, but they were known by most people as a football power," said Hall of Fame President Gene Young, who heads up a 14-member board of directors.

    "We've had some great teams in the area, but I don't know if the three-year stretch that those Heights teams had has ever been matched."

    Cal Tatum, a basketball star at Muskegon High School in the late 1960s who was an All-American at Southern Colorado, will join the three great Heights teams in the MASHF's "Class of 2006."

    "Cal was one of the greatest high school basketball players ever around here," said Young. "But then he went on to be the first player inducted into the Southern Colorado hall of fame, and that's saying something."

    He graduated as the Big Reds' all-time leading scorer with 1,250 points and a career average of 22.7 points per game.

    Tatum was heavily recruited and eventually decided to get away from home a little bit and play his college basketball at the University of Southern Colorado in Pueblo, Colo.

    He was a four-year starter for the Indians and, despite playing in an era before the 3-point shot, is still the school's all-time leading scorer with 2,143 points. He is also the sixth-leading rebounder in school history with 805.

    While at Southern Colorado, he made all-conference all four years and was a two-time small college All-American.

    Tatum was one of the first inductees into the Southern Colorado Basketball Hall of Fame and is considered by many as the finest basketball player in school history.

    Muskegon Heights football teams of 1945, 1946 and 1947
    Muskegon Heights football ruled the area -- and the state -- for an unforgettable 27-game stretch from Sept. 22, 1945 to Nov. 15, 1947.

    During that magical run, no team, not even the might and hated Muskegon Big Reds, could match the Tigers' wrecking crew under Okie Johnson.

    The Tigers of that era were known for defense, especially the 1945 team, which outscored its nine opponents by a combined score of 189-44 -- allowing an average of less than five points per game, including four shutouts.

    The most memorable game of the 1945 season, which is still considered the greatest high school football game in area history, was the Tigers' 7-6 victory over Muskegon in the season finale in front of an estimated crowd of 13,500 fans.

    Led by bruising fullback Ed Petrongelli and backfield mate Paul Hulka, the Tigers kept the Big Reds on their toes. Jim Howell scored the game's first touchdown and Dorr Grover booted what proved to be the game-winning point.

    Heights won the game with a memorable goal-line stand, as the Tigers' defensive front of Jim Dotson, Sonny Grandelius, Dick Ghezzi and Gene Hilliard stopped Muskegon's Howard Peterson on fourth-and-inches near the goal-line to preserve the victory and the first of three consecutive state titles.

    Grandelius, who quarterbacked the 1945 team, moved to fullback in 1946 and the Tigers kept rolling in front of big crowd at Phillips Field.

    The 1946 team had more close calls, outscoring its opponents 162-68, with the scores captured on the school's new electric scoreboard. The season was capped by a 7-0 victory over Muskegon in a sea of mud in game nine. The key play of that game was a pass from Grandelius to Frank Howell, with Howell then scoring the game's only touchdown.

    As legend has it, when Grandelius was a young waterboy for Coach Johnson in the late 1930s, he told the coach that when he made it to varsity that the Tigers "wouldn't lose a game."

    He was right.

    Grandelius and his Tiger teammates completed three years of perfection in 1947, outscoring its nine opponents, 147-54, with many more close calls along the way. Howell was the breakaway specialist for Johnson's team that fall.

    The season ended with a 6-0 victory over the rival Big Reds.

    Grandelius (Michigan State) and Howell and Tom Johnson (Michigan) both went on to memorable college careers, as did many of the other linemen and defensive contributors on the teams -- but none of them would ever again enjoy the level of perfection of those three magical falls on the gridiron.

    Those teams played long before the state football playoffs began, so the Tigers had to settle for back-to-back-to-back "mythical" state championships, as voted on by sportswriters from around the state.

    Team members from those Heights' team are now in their mid- to late-70s, but early indications are that a good number of them are expected to attend the induction banquet, Young said.

    Young said the Hall of Fame board is still trying to make contact with the following team members: John Campbell, Arthur Craymer, William Hotham, Bert Johnson, Joe Koteles, Robert Taylor and Wilmer Williams.

    The board is also trying to reach the following reserves: Harold Hansen, Eugene Fisher, Olis Hunter, William McGahee, Robert Mitchell, Rudolph Shepherd, Jack Venne, Carl Wright and Charles Zorn.

    In addition, the hall hopes to reach family members of the following deceased team members: Shelly Baldwin, Don Bartels, John Bollenbach, William Caughey, William Cook, James Dotson, Dorr Grover, Paul Hulka, Bob Johnson, Tom Johnson, George Jurkas, Ronald Kinsman, Richard Kreifeldt, Douglas Premo, Bill Wansten, Clayton Borgman, Herman Ivory, John Dudzik, Robert Blackmer and Kenneth Benson.

    Anyone with contact information on those team members is encouraged to contact Ron Pesch by phone at 759-7253; by mail at 1317 Lakeshore Drive, Muskegon, 49441; or by e-mail at peschstats@comcast.net.