Editor’s note: This post was written by “Stat Rat” Jim Craig, formerly of Lusk and now of Cheyenne, who has provided significant help to the research on Wyoming sports history.


The 1960s was a tumultuous decade in the United States as the country came to grips with numerous changes within its social fabric. The civil rights movement, Great Society programs, space race and counterculture gains were offset by the Cold War, Cuban Missile Crisis, a spate of assassinations and the Vietnam War. Wyoming was not immune from controversy as “The Black 14″— the number of black UW football teammates suspended in 1969 for wanting to wear armbands protesting BYU—grabbed national headlines in an era of protests, sit-ins, and anti-war/anti-establishment sentiments.

It was, however, a stellar time for us Baby Boomers to grow up in, even among all the turmoil and change. The music, for one, brought us folk/protest ballads, the British Invasion, the Motown sound, soul music, and psychedelic rock, and was immortalized at the decade’s end at a concert and subsequent film called “Woodstock.” So bear with the Stat Rat as he dons a tie-dye then waxes and wanes on 60s-related prep basketball. From a time of love-ins, sit-ins and be-ins, the Rat will stage a “coach-in” and discuss the best to walk the sidelines from 1960 to 1969.

First, as always, a chart:

Top 1960s Coaching Records by Wins
*Jim StoreyCheyenne Central10194.7821.000.6004
*Lloyd McCulloughUniversity Prep10181.767.800.6003
*Bob DoerrLyman; Byron10169.738.600.2001
Bill SollarsShoshoni; St. Mary’s10135.590.500.3003
*Keith BloomPowell10132.557.700.2001
*Burt St. JohnPavillion; Glenrock8131.712.750.1251
Otto LowBig Piney8130.688.500.3750
Lewis MonsenStar Valley8128.736.625.3751
*B. F. ‘Tead’ WeaverUpton10126.529.900.0000
Ron SchliskeLaGrange7122.705.857.5713
*Bud MillikenRock River10121.590.800.2000
*Jack RaffertySunrise; Guernsey; Buffalo9113.546.444.1110
Dean GerkeLovell6104.7031.000.5001
*Sandy MichelenaTen Sleep; Mountain View; Tongue River7104.658.571.1430
*Bob CookLaramie7104.658.429.2862
Bill KennedyCody; Campbell County998.485.556.1110
Morris ZempelSheridan698.662.833.5000
Gene HittnerRawlins897.495.625.0000
John BirleffiDouglas894.461.625.2500
Tom KennedyRiverton791.558.429.2860
*Bill StranniganSt. Stephens; Riverton590.738.800.4001
Jacque SchmiedtWheatland888.503.375.0000
Joe LindseyKaycee786.606.429.2861

Q-Factor=percentage of times qualified for the state tourney
Medal=percentage of times finishing 1st, 2nd, or 3rd
*Wyoming Coaches Association Hall of Fame member

The WHSAA regulated the number of regular-season games to 18, so the overall win numbers are lower compared to earlier decades. The top three separated themselves from the rest of the pack, so to speak, that cement their Wyoming Coaches Association Hall of Fame credentials. Jim Storey leads the decade, and his 194 wins during the ’60s comprise over 80% of his 238 wins at Cheyenne Central in 13 years there as head coach. Lloyd McCullough coached his entire career at University Prep, and his Buckaroos were never far out of the running for championship consideration. Like Coach Storey, McCullough’s teams hung up four championship banners and finished second five times. His career win total at UPrep was 311 dating from the 1954-55 season to the school’s final year in 1972-73. Bob Doerr’s career was a lengthy one beginning with Lyman in the 1954-55 season, moving to Byron/Rocky Mountain in the 1961-62 season and ending in 1985-86. His boys teams totaled 501 wins and add to that another 25 girls hoops wins, as well. For the top three in the chart, the three total over an impressive thousand combined Ws.

Two to consider—While longevity is a key consideration for Hall of Fame eligibility, possibly a greater indication in my opinion is the number of state championships won. It’s tough to win one, even tougher to repeat, and notching three is rarefied air for only a handful, the elite in the profession. Bill Sollars has a brief decade-long career of hoops coaching in Wyoming. However, during a remarkable three-year stretch during the 1961-62, 1962-63, and 1963-64 seasons, his Shoshoni Wranglers won three state titles, the first as a No. 4 seed. Granted, his teams featured a cat named Bebout in the paint, but Class B play in the Big Horn Basin was tougher than pig hide boots, with notable opposition like St. Stephens (state runners-up in 1961-62), Cowley, Byron, and Manderson (runners-up in 1963-64). Winning three championships in a row is special, and Coach Sollars deserves a HOF nod.

Ron Schliske
only coached eight seasons in LaGrange before giving up his hoops coaching gig to move into school administration. But over those eight seasons, Coach Schliske won four state championships, the first in the 1958-59 season (which isn’t reflected in the above chart of 1960’s success.)  That title was followed by successive championships in 1959-60 and 1960-61, as his Longhorns three-peated as well, part of a four-in-row span of banners. In the 1964-65 season, the Longhorns took first in the state again, followed by a second-place finish during his final season of coaching in 1965-66. In fact, LaGrange qualified for the state tourney in seven of his eight seasons as hoops mentor. LaGrange thrived due in part to playing Class C ball in the loaded-for-bear SE where state Class C champs from that corner of the state reigned in 15 of 17 years dating from the early 1950s to the end of the 1960s. That’s HOF worthy, period.

Given the Rat’s snail-like progress constructing and deconstructing hoops seasons, don’t hold your breath for a 1970s chart anytime soon. Or better yet, make your own chart with a glimpse at Patrick Schmiedt’s wyoming-basketball.com, a veritable treasure of Wyoming prep hoops information and date.

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