Gateway’s boys basketball team entered the 1964-65 campaign hoping to better their victorious record of the previous season. Their hopes were realized as the Gators again won the Section 11-A title. The Gators defeated Washington in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs at the University Of
Pittsburgh’s Fitzgerald Field House and continued on to the WPIAL quarter-finals at the Civic Arena losing to eventual Champion Midland.
The Gateway Gators were led by 6’ 10 1/2” Senior All-American Cliff Parsons who averaged 30 points a game. Supporting cast included Seniors Larry Mihalchik, Bill Kelly, Dick Rivers, Russ Porter, Don King, Bob Lang, Mark Domin and Juniors Russ McKelvy, Ed Rashid, Walt Prugar, John Ruane and Dale Hughes. Parsons, Mihalchik, Kelly and McKelvy started regularly. The fifth position was up for grabs; Rivers, King, Rashid and Ruane held it at various times, proving that Gateway had plenty of depth.
Coach Rege Laughlin’s team opened the season at McKeesport. The Gators were eager to avenge their previous year’s defeat at the hands of the Tigers. It was a close one all the way. Both teams battled viciously in the second half. McKeesport broke away in the last minute for a heart breaking 73-68 loss.
After the Gators opened the home season with a 75-44 trouncing over Braddock, Cliff Parsons scored an astounding school record 56 points in a 71-59 win over Duquesne. Gateway then traveled south to Uniontown to meet the previous year’s state champs. Uniontown’s All-American Pat Yates and his teammates made up one of the toughest teams in this part of the country. Gateway played well but could not cope with the awesome Uniontown attack and killing full court press. The Raiders won 82-49 and rambled through the season undefeated until losing in the WPIAL semi-finals.
Following easy victories over Arnold, Westinghouse and Elizabeth, came the Forbes Trail Holiday Tournament at Gateway this year. In the first round, Parsons and Mihalchik blasted Franklin to bits 99-44. Parsons had 41 and Mihalchik had 31. This was the highest score any Gateway team had ever made in one game. A 77-57 victory over Trafford netted Gateway first place in the Tournament for the second straight year.
Gateway’s first section opponent was Plum. Bill Kelly broke the game wide open in the third quarter with three terrific baskets that led to a 72-41 Gator victory. The Gators led all the way as they scalped the Penn Hills Indians 73-47 their next game. Parsons scored 24, Mihalchik 16, and Rivers 12 to lead the way to the Gators’ victory.
Undefeated Fox Chapel gave the Gators a scare. Fox Chapel led at half time 26-23. In the last three seconds, Mihalchik won the game with a field goal on a 20 foot jumper 47-46. Barely over the Fox Chapel scare, the Gators traveled to Springdale and found themselves in another close game with a team that was undefeated after twelve games. Gateway won the thriller 64-60 led by Cliff Parsons 31 points.
An 81-49 slaughter over Wilkinsburg and easy victories over Plum, Penn Hills, Fox Chapel and Churchill followed. Led by Parsons with 32 points. Mihalchik with 21 points and Kelly with 10 points, the Gators easily defeated Churchill for their second straight section championship.
The final home game against Springdale was the most thrilling game played on the Gateway court all year. Mihalchik tied the game with two free throws at the final buzzer and forced the game into overtime. The Gators finally won 97-92 in the highest total scoring game ever at Gateway.
Gateway entered the WPIAL playoffs at the Pitt Field House for the second time in school history. Their opening round opponent was Washington. Washington pulled away to a 17-9 first quarter lead and was still leading by 5 at half time. The second half saw the Gators rally. With Parsons, Rashid, Kelly and Mihalchik scoring baskets left and right, the Gators took the third quarter lead 42-41. Rashid started the fourth quarter with four straight points and Washington never regained the lead. Parsons scored 24 for the game; Mihalchik made 7 of 7 field goals for 14; Kelly hit 14 and Rashid had 10. The Gators won 62-41 and moved on to the quarter-finals against Midland at the Civic Arena.
The Gators played Midland before the largest crowd ever to see a high school basketball game in Western Pa. Although the team fought valiantly, they could not overcome Midland’s devastating press and their terribly accurate shooting. That game was the end to a very successful basketball season ; Midland 84 Gateway 37.
Cliff Parsons won All-American Honors and would up with 1500 points in his three years of varsity basketball – a Gateway record- his 30 points per game are also another Gateway record.
1964-65 Team Record 20 Wins 4 Losses
“The 1964 Gateway Boys Varsity basketball team set two goals for the 1964-65 season. One was to repeat as sectional champions and the other was to improve on their prior year’s record in the WPIAL playoffs. Both goals were achieved. However, those goals could only be achieved by a group of young men who had an excellent work ethic.
Each day in practice, they strove to improve their individual skills. The most important ingredient was an attitude of playing together as a team. No one person cared who scored or how many points the teammate scored. They all just wanted to win. This was an unselfish team that practiced hard, played even harder and set many Gateway records that still stand today. I was proud to be a part of the 20-3 1964-65 Gateway Gators.”Coach Rege Laughlin