Boys Basketball

Collinsville’s 1965 state-championship basketball team to be honored

Collinsville’s 1965 state-championship basketball team will be feted Saturday at Fletcher Gym.

The ceremony will occur immediately after the junior-varsity game, about 7:20 p.m. Collinsville will play Quincy at 7:45 in a rematch of the title game 50 years ago in which the Kahoks defeated the Blue Devils 55-52 at Assembly Hall in Champaign.

Six of the seven remaining members of the team that dressed for the state tournament will be in attendance: Dennis Pace, Steve Gauen, Jack Darlington, Don Birger, Dennis Arnold and Bruce Evans. Keith Zeisel, the other living player from the state team, will not be on hand.

Other members of the team at the state tournament were Harry Parker, Mike Vincent and Mike Belobraydic, all of whom have died. Other players on the team were Ron Burton and Larry Shasteen, but neither dressed for the state tournament. Shasteen said in an email that he would attend the event.

Representatives from the families of coach Vergil Fletcher and assistant coach Frank Pitol also will attend the festivities. Fletcher and Pitol died in 2009.

“A couple of years ago, we put Quincy on the schedule with this on our mind, since we played Quincy for the state championship in ’65. It went from there,” said Kahoks coach Darin Lee, who organized the event. “We’re happy (with the response). It’s a very neat thing, and having Quincy here is nice.”

A reception for the players will be held after the game at Porter’s Steakhouse in the DoubleTree Hotel in Collinsville. Fans are welcome to attend.

The Kahoks finished 30-2 in the 1964-65 season, closing with a 22-game winning streak. The 6-foot-3 Pace was their leading scorer and was an All-State selection.

“They didn’t really have a true post player,” Lee said. “They ran their ball press very well, like many of the Collinsville teams. They shot extremely well. They put it together at the right time. Dennis Pace was on fire. After Dennis, they were pretty balanced.”

Pace scored 112 points in four games, including 41 in the super-sectional against Lawrenceville. Pace followed with 27 points against Lockport, 29 against Chicago Marshall and 15 against Quincy.

Darlington scored 46 points in four games, while Parker had 42 and Birger had 34.