February 13th, 2017

1947 Seahawks in a game for the ages

1946-47 Anacortes Seahawks

The following is a sports column by Anacortes native Wallie Funk, a great community newspaper publisher and unabashed Anacortes High School sports fan. It is of particular interest given that the AHS boys team is currently involved in post-season play — 70 years from the year of the basketball game featured here.

By Wallie Funk, Editor, Anacortes American

Any recollection of great moments in the 36-year-old state double-A basketball tournaments would be incomplete were not the 1947 classic, Anacortes versus Olympia, high on the list.

It had been another great Seahawk team entering the playoffs of that year, charging into Hec Edmundson’s hoop arena with a record of 29 consecutive victories.

Anacortes survived opening day with a 34-32 overtime triumph over Spokane’s Lewis and Clark. But on the following afternoon a supercharged squad from South Kitsap got to the Seahawks, 42-29. Thus were Anacortes and Olympia, a second round loser also, paired in a consolation event that literally stole the thunder from those advancing in the winner’s bracket in the direction of the then Class A title.

Indicating the letdown which might be expected after the ending of their king-sized streak, the Seahawks trailed Olympia 12-8 at the end of one quarter and 23-14 by halftime. The third period proved no better for Anacortes as the Bears, gaining speed, developed a 34-17 lead.

The quintet from Fidalgo Island, which included in its lineup all-state Gene Lundgaard, now basketball coach at PLU, and Duane Berentson, present hoop master at Burington-Edison High School, spotted Olympia a free throw as the final quarter began.

With the score 35-17 and 5:40 to go, Anacortes embarked on a dramatic rally that has become tournament legend. As 4,000 howling fans looked on in disbelief the Seahawks resorted to a desperate and phenomenally successful full court press. For the remainder of the game the Bears were able to work across the center line but three times.

Four and a half minutes later the Bear advantage had been clipped to a single basket, 37-35.

With less than a minute left and as a wild crowd cheered them on, five-foot, seven-inch Don Sullivan threw in a looper that knotted the match at 37 all. Seconds later Lundgaard threw in a 25-footer and it was on ice for Anacortes.

The Seahawks’ John Jurkovich tacked on a final three points and when the klaxen sounded the Northwest District five had salvaged a spectacular 42-37 win.

In five minutes and 40 seconds the Anacortes club had out-tallied Olympia, 25-2, to stage one of the fabled comebacks in playoff history.

Team members: Dick Bergeson, Duane Berentson, Dick Tweten, Don Sullivan, Tom Lian, Gene Lundgaard, Jack Hoskins, Jack Morlock, John Jurkovich and Forrest Wohlhueter. Coach Richard “Boots” Wooten.

Editor’s note: In a 1995 interview, Duane Bergeson recalled with a grin that the Pasco team they lost their first tournament game to was made up of “a bunch of World War II vets.”

In a 1984 interview Wooten recalled the thrilling Olympia game and told me he used a “check zone” defensive technique he had developed. He described it as a man-for-man zone where each player is responsible for both a zone and a particular player.

Wooten, an AHS basketball alum himself, said of so-called “rivalries” in his Anacortes coaching days: “There weren’t any rivalries. Anacortes was IT and the rest of them had to beat us.”

Asked to put together an all-star team from his Anacortes players, Wooten named John Jurkovich, Gene Lundgaard, Duane Berentson, Kent Ent, Bob Olson and Rae Polley. He said Berentson was his top shooter: “He had a one-hand shot going across the key. There’s no doubt about it.”

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About Photographer Steve Berentson

A fourth generation Skagit County native who was moved kicking and screaming from this island community in 1960. I finally reclaimed an Anacortes address in 1980, and I have been in constant celebration of my return since that time. Many of us who call Anacortes home love Fidalgo Island for its natural assets: among them are rugged beaches, pristine lakes, thousands of acres of forestland and some awesome views of the Skagit Valley and surrounding islands. Another element of my love affair with this community is its people, both natives and immigrants. They will “star” in many of my journal entries.

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