Apologies to East High Hoopers and More on Eathorne/Wills

East High’s championship years were wrong in a column I wrote Thursday about the Bremerton School District passing a proposal to honor former coaches Les Eathorne and Ken Wills by naming the high school gym after Eathorne and court after Wills. I apologize for that. Those were special teams and special years and even though I’m a West High guy, I should have them branded in my brain by know. For the record, the Knights finished second in 1972 and won state titles in 1973 and ’74. East lost to Ellensburg in the’72 championship game. The Knights beat Enumclaw for the ’73 title and Foster in the ’74 title game (after beating mighty Cleveland in the semifinals). East was 51-2 during its two-year title run. Here’s a link to my column. And here’s a a cool link to the East High Knights, which is dedicated to Coach Eathorne and its basketball history. Eathorne was the only coach the school ever had. People are probably wondering when the gym/court-naming ceremony will take place. There’s still a lot of details to be worked out, but there are plans to do something at the Dec. 28 East-West Alumni basketball game. Momentum’s picking up for that event. I hear both teams are holding practices and former cheerleaders and band members are being recruited. Some of the former East High players who have been involved in the gym/court-naming project have an idea of what they’d like to do to honor Eathorne and Wills. Eathorne’s name would be painted on the outside of the gym wall, visible as you enter the facility. Plaques honoring both coaches would be placed near the entrance. “Wills Court” would be painted at both ends of the basketball court, which is scheduled to be re-finished during the summer. All of the money would be raised via a fund-raising effort involving Sports Beyond — an organization headed by former East High player Rick Walker with assistance from other ex-Knights. The district won’t have to pay a penny, said Bryan Garinger, a member of the two title teams who has been instrumental in getting this project completed. Current Bremerton High coach Casey Lindberg, who happens to be Eathorne’s stepson, plans to bring back the Ken Wills Award to the program. It went to the most dedicated at the season-ending awards dinner for years. No question, bringing back this tradition — and educating young athletes about the past — can be the start of something good for Bremerton High. Rick Torseth, among the former East High members who was at Thursday’s school board meeting, said, “When I was a kid all I wanted to do was wear black and white and play for East Bremerton. Somehow by the time we got there, we knew what that meant. We knew what it meant to be on the team and how hard you had to work. If there’s a way of bringing some of that back, it’s going to help kids progress on the court, but mostly off the court.” Torseth looked around at his former teammates who were at the board meeting. “We’re all still together, doing all that stuff because that’s what (Eathorne) taught us,” he said. “Look, we’re still a team. If you’re going to go far, you have to go together.” And if you’re going to go far, you can’t be afraid of hard work.”

That’s what Wills taught Eathorne, who was one of many players he sent on to play major-college basketball. “What Wills showed me was that if you wanted to be good, there was no easy way to do it,” he said. “If you wanted to be a shooter, then go out there and shoot. You can’t dream it. Nowadays, I see so many players out there who are dreamers.”

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