The 1964-65 R.A. Long boys’ basketball team showed glimpses of what could be possible as it posted a 12-8 record. But the 1965-66 cage club took the next step - actually a leap.
R.A. Long boys’ Basketball coach Tiz Miler, with his son Terry leading the charge, directed the 1966 Lumberjacks to a 17-8 record. Coach Miller’s cagers cut the margin with a 62-57 win over Hudson’s Bay (Terry Miller 21 points) and kept its playoff hopes alive with wins over Battle Ground 74-58 (Miller 25 points) and Camas 89-67 (Miller 27 and Hal Calbom 23 points).
But the Jacks still needed help to tie Hudson’s Bay for second in the South, and they got it. As exciting as RAL's stretch run was, it would pale in comparison to district.
The Jacks faced the Centralia Tigers in its district opener. The two teams split during the regular season. RAL trailed the entire game until Calbom knotted things at 48-all with just under five minutes to play. The score was tied two more times, setting up the final three hectic seconds. Senior guard Tim Gilles drove the lane and dropped in the game-winner at the horn to give the Jacks a 55-53 win (Calbom 17, Gilles 13).
The next night, R.A. Long's task was to dispose of the Aberdeen Bobcats. The game went back-and-forth the entire first half with the Jacks taking a 32-30 lead into the intermission.
Early in the fourth period, RAL pushed its lead to seven, but Aberdeen tied the game with just seconds left. As he did in the opener, Gilles swished in the game-winner in the final seconds for a 60-58 win and a berth in regionals for the first time in 10 years. Calbom had 17, Miller 16, Gilles 14 and Call 10.
R.A. Long faced Lincoln of Tacoma the following week in regionals at the University of Puget Sound. With no shot clock back then, Lincoln slowed the pace to a near-crawl and came away with a 34-32 victory. The next night in a losers' bracket game, RAL fell to Columbia River 61-51. Miller (who averaged 20.6 points per game for the season and tied for the league scoring title) and Calbom were first-team all-conference performers and Call earned second-team honors. Calbom was fifth in the league in rebounding. At the time, Miller held the single-season (516) and career point totals (833).
The Jacks starting five was loaded with talent and several went on to play college sports.
Coaches: Tiz Miller and Jerry Kappenman
Team Members: Hal Calbom, Bill Call, Tim Gilles, Tom Gilles, Neil Kemper, Bruce Kochis, Gary LaBerge, Terry Miller, Mike Rasmussen, and Dave Studley.
Team Manager: John Ericksen
Statisticians: Charlie Freeman and Russ Hammond