ORANGE, NJ – At Orange High School, over the years, sports fans have enjoyed watching such talented athletes as Monte Irvin in baseball, Greg Tynes in basketball, and Terrell Willis in football.
And on a team basis, Orange fans will always remember such squads as the 1973-74 hoops team which racked up an impressive 29-1 record in the process of winning conference and state titles.
But a special team was the undefeated 1967-68 boys’ basketball crew which won conference, county and state championships.
Senior forward Bob Butts was the star, but he had great support from players like Al Thompson, Deroy Jackson, Harvey Glover, Countee Hall, Anthony Norwood, Maurice Waiters and Ollie Greene.
That group will be honored by the “Big O” Booster Club on the evening of June 14 at Lincoln Avenue School.
Tickets, which will cost $15, can be purchased at the door. The affair starts at 6 p.m.
“It really should be a great night,” said Crawford Daniels, who is a member of the OHS Booster Club. “We’re expecting several members of that 67-68 squad to show up. We want to recognize those players on the 50th anniversary of that special season.”
Thompson is particularly well known because he had great coaching success at the school, highlighted by Orange capturing the 1994 Tournament of Champions state title.
“Winning the TOC was a great feeling,” said Thompson, who became a fine football player at Montclair State. “But what we did in 1967-68 was truly special. Just being on the same court with Bob Butts was a thrill. He could dominate a game in so many ways, particularly with his rebounding.”
Butts, Glover, Hall and Greene are expected to be in attendance on June 14, along with Thompson.
“I graduated in 1965, but we all knew about that 67-68 team,” said Daniels, who served on the Orange police force for many years.
Daniels, who was a fine all-around athlete at Orange, notes that the Booster Club event will raise scholarship monies for deserving youngsters.
“That’s why we hope to have a big turnout,” said Daniels, who particularly stood out in track and field, vying in the high jump and 440. “It’s always a nice feeling when you can do something for other people. I felt a lot of pride when I worked for the police department in town.
“If Butts shows up, that would really be something. I know he’s living in North Carolina. One of the subs on that team is living in California, so I don’t think he’ll be able to come.”
COURT COMMENTS – The great 1967-68 team was coached by Hoddy Mahon… At that time, the Big 10 Conference was very tough… In the 1968 ECT finals, OHS just got past Central, 65-64. Orange breezed by South Side, Our Lady of the Valley and Barringer.