GGHS Basketball History
The Early Years through the 1950’s
Garden Grove High School has fielded boys basketball teams as far back as the first year the school opened in 1921. However, the school did not win a league championship until the 1949-50 and 1950-51 seasons when the Argos captured back-to-back Orange League titles. Both teams were coached by faculty member Don Kennedy. The 1949-50 team was undefeated in league and led by 5’8” forward Bob Archer who set an Orange League season scoring record of 17.4 points per game (ppg) in an era of relativly low scoring games. Archer was also chosen Orange League MVP and 2nd Team All-CIF. (There was only one All CIF Division in those days!) Others who were named All-Orange League were John Borrego, Nobe Kitada, and Ray Ramirez in 1949-50 and Borrego, Ramirez, and Jack Kraushaar in 1950-51.
One of the greatest players in GGHS basketball history is three-year letterman Wells Sloniger who played for the Argos from 1957 through 1959 when GGHS participated in the Sunset League (Garden Grove joined the Sunset League in 1955-56.) Sloniger, a 5’11” guard, set a school career scoring record of 1,104 points and scored a then-school record of 39 points in one game. He was Sunset League scoring champ his junior year in 1957-58 with a 17.4 ppg average and scored an average of 22.1 ppg his senior year in 1958-59. He was selected 1st team All-Sunset League in both his junior and senior years and 2nd team All-CIF in the Large School Division his senior year. Sloniger’s accomplishments are even more remarkable as the Argo teams in his junior and senior years finished respectively last and fourth in Sunset League play and the teams averaged less than 50 ppg. He went on to play in college at USC, lettering in 1961 through 1963. Sloniger also served as ASB President his senior year at GGHS.
The late 1960’s was the Golden Era of GGHS basketball with the school reaching the CIF quarterfinals three times between 1965 and 1969. The school began playing in the Freeway League in 1962-63 and in 1964-65, GGHS won its first league championship since 1951 under Coach Jim Trumbo. The team was led by 6’7” All-Orange County, 2nd team All-CIF, and Freeway League MVP Tony Robertson along with All-Freeway League players 6’4” forward Greg Delaney and 6’2” guard Jay Moore. The team scored at a school-record rate of 76.8 ppg, scored 111 points in one game, and ran off 18 straight victories. Robertson led the Freeway League in scoring and averaged 23.9 ppg overall. The team was undefeated in Freeway League competition at 14-0 and it won its first two games in the CIF Large School 3A Division before losing to top ranked and undefeated Redondo Union HS. The team finished with a 23-5 record overall, was ranked #1 in Orange County at season’s end, and Coach Trumbo was named Orange County Coach of the Year.
The 1967-68 GGHS team finished the season 20-7 overall and was Garden Grove League Champion with a 9-1 record while playing with only three seniors. The team won its first two CIF playoff games before losing by four points to Indio HS in the CIF 2A Division quarter final round in a game played at Orange Coast College. The team was led by Garden Grove League MVP and All-Orange County forward Fred VanderLinde. All but three players from the team, as well a Coach Jim Stephens, were scheduled to return the next season, fuelling great expectations for the next year.
The 1968-69 Argonaut basketball squad lived up to preseason expectations and is generally considered the best basketball team ever to play at GGHS. It had exceptional height for that era, as well as depth and experience at all positions, and it dominated its opponents all season long. The team was led by 6’9“ Al Carlson at center, 6’5” Gary Berg and 6’6” Gene Broom at forward, and 6’1” Bill O’Brien and 5’9” Dave Cates at guard, all seniors with prior varsity experience. The team swept through the regular season undefeated, averaged over 70 ppg, outscored Garden Grove League opponents by an average of 29 points, captured three major tournament titles, and entered the CIF playoffs with a 26-0 record. The team was ranked #1 in Orange County as well as in CIF Division 3A. Carlson led the league both in scoring and rebounding, averaging over 20 points and 12 rebounds per game. He averaged 18.8 ppg overall the entire season. Scoring was well-distributed among all the starters with the other four frequently scoring in double figures. The Orange and Los Angeles County newspapers often made comparisons of the team to the undefeated Compton HS team, the CIF 4A Division champion of that same year.
As the #1 seed in CIF Division 3A, the team received a bye in the first round of the playoffs and then set a CIF record for a CIF playoff game winning margin by handing Riverside Poly HS an 87-37 defeat in the second round. The Argos seemed unstoppable. Unfortunately, they were upset by Rowland HS, 73-71, in a quarterfinal game played at Orange Coast College and broadcast live on southern California television by KNBC. The 1968-69 team finished with a 27-1 overall record and the players and Coach Stephens received numerous All-League, All-County, and All-CIF accolades. Both Carlson and Berg were named first team All-CIF. Several of the players went on to play college basketball including Carlson at the University of Oregon and Broom at the University of Washington. Carlson also played briefly in the NBA for the Seattle Supersonics and was recently named one of the top 25 players in the history of Orange County High School Basketball by Orange County Register Sports columnist Steve Fryer. Berg set the school career rebounding record with 745. He also served as GGHS ASB President and was named Most Worthy Argonaut his senior year.
The 1970’s and Since
The 1970’s and more recent years have seen great individual performances by Argo boys basketball players. In the 1972-73 season, Dan Sharon scored a then school record of 45 points in one game and 589 points in his senior year while the Argo’s finished second in the Garden Grove League. Bill Johnson averaged 25.6 points per game (ppg) for the 1974-75 team, setting a single season total scoring record for GGHS with 760 points, and was named 1st Team All CIF 3A Division and All Orange County. Johnson also broke the school career scoring record with 1,310 total points and set a school record of 24 rebounds in one game. The 1978-79 team was led by seniors Mark Baker and Michael Gray. Baker scored 967 career points (20.6 ppg) in just two years on the varsity and was 1st team All-Garden Grove League and league scoring champion in his senior year with a 27.1 ppg average. His highest scoring game of 47 points is believed to still be a GGHS record. Gray scored 980 career points and was All-Garden Grove League in each of his three varsity years. Other notable players since the 1970’s that have been named All-CIF are Joe Aguire, 1991 Division II; David Richmond, 2005 Division II; Tony Pham, 2008 Division IV, and Jonathon Umanzor, 2009 Division IIIAA.
While GGHS had fielded Girls Basketball teams since the 1920’s, Girls Basketball did not become a CIF competitive sport until the 1970’s. GGHS Girls recognized as All-CIF include Kris Kroyer (21.3 ppg average), 1980 Division 3A; Tami Parker (22.3 ppg average), 1981 Division 3A; and Michelle Murry (18.4 ppg average), 1994 Division II.
Following is the author’s selection of the All Time GGHS Boys Basketball Team. If you have other ideas about who should be on this list, send in your team! We welcome your comments.
GGHS All Time Boys Basketball Team
C – Al Carlson (‘69)
C – Tony Robertson (‘65)
F – Bill Johnson (‘75)
F – Fred VanderLinde (‘68)
F – Bob Archer (‘51)
F – Gary Berg (‘65)
G – Wells Sloniger (‘59)
G – Jay Moore (‘65)
G – Mark Baker (‘79)
G – Michael Gray (‘79)
Greg Delaney (‘65)
Don Sharon (‘73)
Written by Chuck Lake, GGHS Class of 1968
Updated June 19, 2011