Seeing how I type two words a minute this is a major undertaking. There were so many great memories of that season. I remember we were all a little disappointed how badly we played in the finals at the sports arena. As we were watching the 4-A game between Verbum Dei and Crescenta it felt like we were the JV team. But the memories of the championship are very sweet today as I look back. I think the greatest memory I have is the wonderful friendship we had with one another. Barclay and I are still best friends to this day and I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow night. I’ll list some of my highlights of the season.
- After getting blown out by Crescenta Valley in an early season tournament their players came up and told us we were a really good team and we had a great chance to win a championship. That was a great confidence builder and the next game we went out and beat a good Santa Barbara team with Don Ford by one point.
- Blowing out Santa Barbara by twenty points at their gym. I think that was the point where we believed we were a good team.
- Beating Santa Maria at our gym by twenty. They were our biggest rivals and they had beaten us in a summer league tourney but Bruce C. was a dominant player by this time.
- The games with San Marcos and the rivalry with Steve. I remember Tom Henderson shutting him down
- Getting beat by Santa Maria at their gym was a great wake up call for us.
- The CIF playoffs-what a trip.
- The packed house at Westmont. We had such great fan support. We knew if we won that game we would be on TV.
- The Katella game on TV. I remember I was so nervous I didn’t know who I was guarding for the first 5 minutes. They jumped out to a ten to nothing lead and I remember thinking this was the end of the line. How embarrassing to get blown out on TV. But Scott had that great game and we came back to win.
- The finals. The Sports Arena. So big, I felt lost out there. What a great game Bruce had and what a great player he had become.
- Looking back at the struggles we had with coach Volpi with the players wanting to play a more wide open game. We never would have won that way. He was a much better coach then we gave him credit for at the time.
We held a reunion at Richard Stein’s house in Santa Barbara on March 31, 2001. I had an original tape of the championship game, ugly as it was, and it was delightful how quickly we fell back into a hilarious critique of each other’s efforts. As you recall there was plenty to laugh about in that game, mostly on the shooting side. Surprisingly, besides the “short” shorts and our methodical, boring offense, I was surprised how tough we STILL looked defensively after all this time!
I’ll give you a few scenes that are “freeze-framed” in my mind from that year…
- In the second game of the year, leading a three-on-two fast break, seeing Stein open on the right but opting to fake to him and take it all the way and alas, drawing an offensive foul. Stein STILL gives me crap about that choice ,however my answer remains the same now as it was then, he had already shot the damn ball enough already!
- The highly charged atmosphere in practice scrimmages. Danny and I going at it, Irving and Roberts, neighbors but none too fond nor sociable towards each other. Marc Melendez and Stein getting extremely physical. And everybody ragging on and beating up on Coldren, who just kept taking it and kept coming back with jumpers and tough rebounds.
- Going to play Crescenta Valley in the tourney and really being awestruck at how physically overmatched we were. That was quite a team. It was also the only time I ever saw Volpi panic when he instructed us in a timeout to…”just clear the side and let Stein go one-on-one…” we all knew we were in for a long night at that point. Despite his valiant efforts, they humbled us, which worked to our benefit as we had been rolling over other pre-season opponents and this took us down a notch or two and made us work harder.
- Getting into the game against Santa Barbara (at the same tournament I think), the team of Keith Wilkes! and the remaining star Don Ford. I got the ball on a steal or fast break with just him back on defense, looked at him and thought, “that skinny blonde f—-r can’t stop me”, took it in on him and had to endure the indignity of him fly-swatting me, knocking me to the floor, and then snarling at me “to get that s–t out of here!” Me, being me, telling him politely what to do with himself, and challenge him again minutes later on a similar play….with the exact same results!!! Having been told that the definition of stupidity is to keep performing the same action expecting different results, I opted to respect Mr. Ford’s defensive prowess from that point forward.
- Scant weeks later, going into the Don’s lair, knowing that they would be completely fired up for us. Stein having a hickey on his neck the size of the Russian map, us ribbing him about that during layups kept us very loose. Then we proceeded to d-e-s-t-r-o-y Santa Barbara with a ferocious full-court press. I remember pressing with Tom Henderson, at one point, after having stolen or forced turnovers 4-5 times in a row thinking, “these guys can’t even get it over half-court! Big bad SB is running scared!” I actually had a feeling , instantaneous but completely recognizable, akin to “Lord of the Flies” where I felt completely powerful and somewhat savage in my and our ability to wreck havoc defensively. In that game we lost any shred of self doubt and really claimed the quiet arrogance of real winners.
- The struggle that I would have before every game when, in the locker room, right after pre-game talking, we would gather around and clasp hands and invoke a moment of silence or prayer. Marc Melendez would either find my hand and tickle it seductively or search for my gaze and then give me his best Volpi, tongue under the lower lip imitation, reducing me to a jittery, inwardly convulsing mess. It was great removing the pre-game jitters as we would break the huddle and I could finally guffaw and relieve my tension!
- Our emotional leader, Stein, getting himself completely fired up out of his mind before playing San Marcos at their gym, exhorting us hysterically before leading us charging out into the gym. as he entered from the pool area and onto the court, tripping over a cable and barely keeping himself from doing a facial as his opening appearance that night! Another tension reducer for me, who was right behind him and saw the whole thing!
- “Freeze Frame” Stein against Litner from Arroyo Grande, a fine ballplayer in his own right, and Stein “tooling” him with some of the greatest one-on-one moves I’ve ever seen.
- Danny Melendez punctuating one of the greatest, most electrifying shooting halves I’ve ever seen by nailing a line drive jumper from the dead corner with Munding in his face as the halftime buzzer expired….
- Later, after we had clinched league, going to Santa Maria and everyone, feeling a sense of foreboding that they were waiting to ambush us up there, which they proceeded to do. Again, it was what we needed to get us back into the right frame of mind before CIF.
- First round, Newbury Park, whom we had beaten by about a thousand points earlier in the year, plays inspired ball matching our lack of inspiration, led by Stein, who has his WORST game of the year. At one point, he threw the ball away as point man against their press to Brodski who laid it in, and Henderson and I are both screaming at Stein to get his head in the game! We luckily escaped that one!
- Playing Fermin Lasuen and the famed Bob Gross at Westmont College, Stein putting on a show in the first half and then Bruce taking advantage of a wide open middle to shoot turnaround jumpers in the second. I remember playing the point, dribbling up and again and again just passing directly into him and thinking, “if you guys are this stupid to give this to us, I’ll keep throwing it in there!”
- Playing a really talented triplet guard combo for Artesia, and in a tight game, at one point walking off the court during a time-out on the hostile court in the midst of them making a run and thinking, ” this place is REALLY loud…R-E-A-L-L-Y LOUD!”
- The Katella game, (won 64-50) really what we had all wished would have been the championship game, where really the finest efforts and talents from many members were displayed in an awesome comeback win against a really fine team. Having my most embarrassing moment of the season on TV for all of SoCal to see (banking in a free throw), and also, when coming into the game for the first time, completely nervous, throwing away a cross-court pass and being so inflamed with embarrassment and humiliation that I raced to the other end and fly-swatted off the backboard the guy’s layup attempt…sweet!!
- The championship game, really anticlimactic, a SURREAL experience in that cavern for the first time, reflected in our shooting stats,……and a HELLUVA celebration party at Stein’s house the next night!!
What made us so good? We all loved to play, and we all, despite some aforementioned jealousies, pretty much liked each other. There was enough “evenness” in talent to make practices intensely competitive. Mostly though, while not the most terrific bunch of athletes ever assembled, we were a HIGHLY INTELLIGENT group that really KNEW the game of basketball and particularly the subtleties and nuances of outstanding TEAM DEFENSE. The FEELING of what we often experienced that year has been elusive in athletics and later in life, but that feeling has been what I have strived for since as I have built my professional career and tried to instill some of the same qualities that came so naturally to that group.
Thanks for listening to my sharing!
In 1971, when Dos Pueblos won a CIF title…
THE GYM RATS RULED
SANTA BARBARA NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER
For several hours last Saturday, Richard Stein’s living room harked back over 30 years to the gym at the Goleta Boys’ Club. That’s where those Dos Pueblos High kids could be found playing basketball around the clock.
Even during the season, when they had practices and games, they’d go to the Boys’ Club at night to get in some extra playing time together.
Even during the season, when they had practices and games, they’d go to the Boys’ Club at night to get in some extra playing time together.
“They were gym rats,” said Sal Rodriguez, who opened the doors for them. “Eventually I had to kick them out so I could go home.”
Their passion for the game paid off in the 1970-71 season, when the Dos Pueblos Chargers went 27-2 and captured the CIF 3-A basketball championship.
“All the time we played together is what made us a great team,” said Stein, the team’s leading scorer. “We played more basketball in a week than I’ve played in the last 20 years.”
The 30th anniversary reunion marked the first time the Chargers had gotten together since their high school days. Stein, a local dentist, hosted nine former teammates at a dinner party in his Montecito home. They remembered when. . .
. . . They went across town to play the Santa Barbara Dons, with future NBA player Don Ford, and they scored a stunning 70-47 victory. “That was the point where we believed we were a good team,” Stein said.
. . . They won DP’s first championship of the old Santa Barbara County League, topping strong foes from Santa Maria, Righetti and Arroyo Grande.
. . . A capacity crowd in Westmont’s Murchison Gym watched them defeat Fermin Lasuen and Bob Gross, a future Portland Trail Blazer, 69-57 in the CIF quarterfinals.
. . . They faced Katella in the semis, a game televised by KNBC, with Ross Porter and Tommy Hawkins calling the action. After spotting Katella an 8-0 lead, the Chargers roared back to win 64-50.
. . . They smothered Bellflower 49-40 in the championship game, the opener of a doubleheader before 12,000 fans at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
“It was a pretty ugly game,” Stein said. “Our defense won it for us. I remember watching the 4-A final between Verbum Dei and Crescenta Valley and feeling like we were a JV team.”
That’s not the way athletes usually remember their glory days, but another distinguishing feature of the Chargers was their acumen. Only two of them went on to play basketball at four-year colleges — center Bruce Coldren at Oregon and guard Tom Henderson at UC Davis — but all of them have become productive citizens.
Their elders — people who were about the same age they are now — used to wonder if anything good could come out of the rebellious youth of the early ’70s. Don Volpi, the coach of the Chargers, recalled 10 years after the championship that “our school was getting flack from the community about being Hippie High.”
Volpi, who graduated from UCSB in 1960 after serving in the Air Force, was an old-school coach. Mark Looker, a student manager, recalled an incident at a DP practice: “Volpi sat down next to Stein and put his finger on Stein’s sideburns (such as they were) and said, ‘What do you think you’re trying to get away with?’ as if he were Charles Manson himself. . . That incident so incensed me that I wrote an essay about it for my English class saying something to the effect that Volpi was a fascist and how repressive team sports was.”
But the players grudgingly accepted Volpi’s discipline on the basketball court.
“We had friction with the coach because we wanted to play up-tempo, run and gun,” Stein said. “But then we lost to Crescenta Valley (70-46) early in the season, and we realized we couldn’t win playing that style. Volpi was a much better coach than we gave him credit for at the time.”
Stein would have liked to express that appreciation to Volpi’s face, but the coach died of a heart attack during a recreational basketball game on March 3, 1983. He was 49. Paul Yarbrough, another student manager during the championship year, covered the story for the News-Press. He is now a newspaper editor in Eugene, Ore.
Another person sadly missing from the reunion was Danny Melendez, a starting guard who could go on a tear with his line-drive jump shots. Melendez died in an auto accident on April 12, 1979.
Stein would like to hear from forward Scott Roberts. He left the area a couple years ago, and nobody knows what became of him. Reserve guard Brent McClurg was unable to attend the reunion. There were 10 former players on hand, enough to play five-on-five with their memories:
Stein (6-foot-3) moved to Goleta as a sophomore from Princeton, N. J. (“I caught free throws from Bill Bradley”), played some ball at City College, then concentrated on his studies. He has been a dentist here for 20 years.
Coldren (6-7) scored 25 points in the championship game. The only junior in the starting lineup, he had a deadly outside shot that later sparked Oregon to an upset of UCLA. He is athletic director at Lowell (Ore.) High. “Any team that has ever been successful has always been really close,” he said.
Henderson (6-0), also an AD at San Juan High in Fair Oaks: “We thought the championship was important at the time, but the big thing is the friendships you make. Basketball was the vehicle.”
Barclay Hope (6-0), president of a nationwide natural foods distributor: “Everybody knew their place on the team. We had talent –Stein and Coldren — and a lot of good role players. There were some tensions, but overall the chemistry was good.”
Marc Melendez (6-2), assistant golf pro at the Valley Club and Danny’s younger brother: “There wasn’t a selfish person on the team. You don’t see that nowadays.”
Greg Hanson (6-1 1/2), working in local real estate: “I helped push the seniors in practice and was able to start the next year. I remember seeing Lewis Brown of Verbum Dei at the Sports Arena, a 6-9, 230-pound center. He was smoking a cigarette while getting his ankle taped.”
Bill Irving (6-1 1/2), a building contractor in Anacortes, Wash.: “I was glad to hang on and watch these guys play. My elbow gave Scott Roberts stitches before the Katella game and got him going (Roberts scored 18 in the semifinal win).”
Steve Terry (6-2 1/2), a corrections officer living in Placerville: “Everything we did was with the team in mind.”
The presence of Richard Elliott and Jimmy Smit at the reunion was a testament to the closeness of the ’71 Chargers. They were among the kids playing in the Boys’ Club all summer, but neither suited up for the team. “I went to every practice because I didn’t want to mess up the team chemistry,” said Elliott, a carpenter who has two children at Dos Pueblos. Smit is owner of O’Malley’s Bar. He was the last player to see their coach. “I was a city firemen for six years,” he said. “One night we responded to a code blue at the SBCC gym. It was Volpi.” Sad and sweet, 30 years of memories poured out Saturday night. Thirty years. To think that as young people, they were told not to trust anybody who’d lived that long.
Memories of Historic Achievement
Front row, from left, Scott Roberts, Bill Irving, Stephen Vonasek, Bruce Coldren and Marc Melendez. Back row, from left, Principal Henry Baylor, Dan Melendez, Brent McClurg, Greg Hanson, Coach Don Volpi, Barclay Hope, Tom Henderson and Richard Stein.
Material curated by Mark Looker
Dos Pueblos High School, from Goleta, CA, captured the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) AAA basketball title on March 13,1971, with a 49-40 victory over Bellflower at the LA Sports Arena. It was the first major sports title in the school’s young history. DP would next win a CIF AAA title on Feb. 28, 1990 with a 39-38 overtime thriller over Corona del Mar at UC Irvine’s Bren Center.
As one of the student managers, along with Paul Yarbrough, in addition to being the sports editor of the school newspaper “The Charger Account,” I had a unique perspective from which to view this championship team.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the championship win over Bellflower at the L.A. Sports Arena, I am re-posting a collection of players’ memories that I first posted 20 years ago, long before the days of Facebook and Twitter. Their recollections give some insight into the team chemistry that produced a memorable basketball season. I am seeking memories from those who did not share them 20 years ago and will post any new stories I receive.
Championship Game Scorecard courtesy of Mark Riley
See Santa Barbara News Press 30 year anniversary article April 4, 2001
See Santa Barbara News Press Ten Year Anniversary Article March 13, 1981
- Richard Stein, forward, 6-3
- Bruce Coldren, center, 6-7
- Barclay Hope, guard, 6-0
- Tom Henderson, guard, 6-0
- Scott Roberts, forward, 6-3
- Dan Melendez, guard, 6-0
- Marc Melendez, forward, 6-2
- Bill Irving, forward, 6-1 1/2
- Stephen Vonasek, forward, 6-2 1/2
- Greg Hanson, guard, 6-0
- Brent McClurg, guard, 5-10
- Mark Looker
- Paul Yarbrough
The Wins and Losses Overall 27-2:
Beat Royal 82-51
Beat Simi Valley 79-60
Beat Newbury Park 84-37
Beat Hueneme 78-36
Beat Santa Barbara 70-47 click here for photos
Beat Bishop Garcia 74-44
Beat Alhambra 70-47
Lost to Crescenta 70-46
Beat Camarillo 71-54
Beat Cabrillo 53-44 and 87-62
Beat Arroyo Grande 64-42 and 47-44
Beat Righetti 88-51 and 68-58
Beat Lompoc 74-57 and 90-56
Beat San Luis Obispo 77-43 and 54-43
Beat Santa Maria 75-55 and lost 69-59
Beat San Marcos 53-44 and 58-35
Beat Newbury Park 64-54
Beat Lausen 69-57
Beat Bellflower 49-40
Sovine Gym, Home of the Chargers
Random DP basketball memories by Mark Looker, manager, Dos Pueblos High School Chargers CIF AAA champions 1971:
- Scott Roberts leading the team in scoring against Katella on the High School game of the week televised on KNBC. Ross Porter and Tommie Hawkins were the announcers. We were all in awe of the size of those guys in person. They looked like linebackers!
- Scott Roberts being mobbed at school during lunch break by all of his new-found “friends” after his TV performance. We all got a good laugh at how everyone “discovered” Scott and his basketball talent.
- The vastness of the LA Sports Arena. The rims just seemed to hang out there in outer space and it was hard to get any type of perspective. DP’s first half shooting was less than sensational. I need to check the old stories but my memory is that Coldren led the way in scoring.
- The game at a tourney in Southern California when I thought coach Volpi asked me to find a “jock.” I scurried all over the locker room trying to find a jockstrap. I was so proud when I finally tracked down the other team’s equipment manager and triumphantly handed the jock to coach Volpi. He looked at me with his face all scrunched up like I was from outer space and said, “What’s this?” I answered, “Why it’s the jock you wanted.” He stared at me: “Looker, I wanted chalk for the chalk board!!” And I’m not making that one up!
- Carrying the damn ball bag all over the Sports Arena after the championship game was over and we got to go sit up in the stands and watch the 4A game. That thing was a pain to carry. As my Dad commented, “We drove 90 miles and paid $25 to watch my son carry a ball bag!” Yeah but it was fun!
- In the locker room, Barclay Hope leaning over to pull off his shoes and Volpi pressing a cold Coke can against his back. Barclay jumped a mile in the air and turned around to take care of whoever did that and then saw it was coach. Volpi just had that silly grin on his face.
- The game at a tourney in LA where I had to keep the book for some reason (which I didn’t normally do but Yarbrough was in the hospital after getting his appendix out) and I mistakenly had Dan Melendez with 4 fouls instead of 3 and the opposing coach yanked a player off the bench and practically threw the kid into the game shouting, “Foul him out!” Volpi was pissed at me- at halftime he came up to me in the hallway and grabbed me by my tie, pulled me to within an inch of his face and screamed, “Don’t you ever do that again!!” I recall that I could hardly breath. I said I was sorry. My mistake was corrected by the official scorer who correctly had just 3 fouls marked down—I was just the visiting book—but it didn’t matter to Volpi.
- Coldren getting pissed at some little player for Cabrillo who was just giving him a rash trying to unnerve him—we call it “trash talking” these days. I remember he called him “Bruccceeee.” Well, Bruce just snapped going down court, swung his arm way back and hurled the ball at the kid’s back. Nailed him pretty good! He got a T and he might have got kicked out, which obviously was the kid’s goal.
- Volpi sitting down next to Stein at practice one day and putting his fingers on Stein’s sideburns (such as they were) and saying, “What do you think you’re trying to get away with?” as if he were Charles Manson himself. What would he say today (If he were alive) about all those hideous tattoos!?! That incident so incensed me that I wrote an essay about it for my English class saying something to the effect that Volpi was a fascist and how repressive team sports was. Boy, little did I know how things would change in 30 years!
- Marc Melendez with his penchant for saying: “Jokey-jokey.” As I recall, putting “e” on the end of words was all the rage! Making up words was a favorite pastime. I recall Mikey Elliott being the master of spinning new words and twisting familiar words—“imitation” for intimidation was one of his best!
- Referee Keith Pilger making some just brutal calls in a home game and I couldn’t control myself and yelled at him: “You are brutal!” As we walked back to the locker room at halftime, Pilger walked over to Volpi, pointed his finger at me and said, “You better keep your manager quiet.” I was terrified for my life and sat in the stands the second half!
- Being forced to referee with Yarbrough an inner-squad game in which Coldren and Roberts were fly swatting balls left and right (and goal tending) and being terrified to make a call as all the players screamed at us. That was truly “imitation” of the highest degree.
- Greg Hanson telling me following the final game of our senior year: “I really want to thank you for all you’ve done for the team.” I was very embarrassed and said I really hadn’t done anything and he persisted. “No, you were always there and I appreciate it.” It was a tough year to follow after the championship year because expectations were so high but guys like Greg bore the pressure with a lot of style and grace.
- The competition between Stein and Steve Weist of San Marcos. We media guys really hyped up that angle. When they were seniors it was supposed to be the Big Shootout at City College, if I recall correctly. We put out a special joint DP-San Marcos edition of the “Charger Account” for the game featuring profiles on both players. I need to go to the papers to research the outcome but I think Stein might have won that scoring battle. But Weist was a gunner, big time! Not afraid to put it up. Steve Weist … there was a classic game the next season, which Coldren won near the buzzer and then San Marcos couldn’t get a shot off … Royals led late in the game but then an offensive foul, a turnover and several other maladies hit them and Chargers rallied to win. Yarbrough still has it on audio tape somewhere with John Nadel calling the play-by-play.
- The sadness I felt when I learned of the deaths of Danny Melendez and Coach Volpi. Much too young for either one.
- Finally, my most lasting memory over the years of DP basketball was how much fun it all was. It was a unique team and was the essence of what basketball should be: Every player had a role and everyone fit in collectively to produce the end result. It’s always been my model of what team sports can be but I have never come by such a model since in all those 30 years. Of course, as I now coach my 9 year old son and 8 year old daughter in soccer and baseball, I realize even more how rare the DP experience was. I don’t want to sound like Phil Jackson and start talking about the “Zen” approach to basketball but I think there was a certain harmonic convergence that came over DP in 1971.