Ramona High’s 1952 league champions celebrate 60th anniversary
The members of the 1952 Ramona High School Southern Prep League (SPL) A championship basketball team (they were called the varsity A back in the day), were in high school for four years but they have remained teammates for all of their lives.
On Saturday, Sept. 15 they celebrated the 60th anniversary of their deeds on the hardwood court that is now called Wilson Gym. Five of the team’s eight members and their significant others, classmates, cheerleaders and children were in attendance. Three are deceased but remembered fondly.
There were six teams in the SPL in 1952: Ramona, Julian, Army-Navy, Vista, Brown and Fallbrook. Ramona and Julian met in the league finale and both teams were undefeated in league play. Ramona was riding a 13 game winning streak and had to travel up State Route 78 to Julian for the championship game.
The Ramona Sentinel reported before the game: “Ramona and Julian, the Southern League’s only undefeated teams, meet on the Julian court Friday. The preliminary game starting at 7. Julian, who was the pre-season favorite, will have a rough time handling the hustling Bulldog five. The team is built around the big Bulldog center, Dwight Miller, who will be the Big Gun on backboards for the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have two good guards in Cal Baker and John Muir. Baker, who is a capable high scorer, is a tall hard working senior. John Muir is a boy who does little shooting, but sets up the rest of the team in a creditable manner. The Bivens boys will be seen in their usual sterling fashion. Bob, a senior, is the team’s high scorer, followed by the younger, yet not smaller Bill. The Bivens boys will be playing their last ball game together in school. Let’s hope that they do as well as they have in the past.
“The Bulldogs have capable substitutes in guard Boom Huston, forward Fred Schanke, center Boris Dobrotin, and guard Barry Reed.
“The two teams had met three times earlier in the season. Julian had beaten Ramona twice in those meetings.”
Ramona won the championship game 42-38 and its first championship in 10 years. Every Ramona starter earned all league honors. Bob Bivens was first team. Bill Bivens, Miller and Baker were named to the second team, and Muir was honorable mention.
After 60 years the esprit de corps is still there. Baker, Dobrotin, Huston, Miller and Schanke all had great memories and stories about their championship season. All had praise for those who did not make it to the reunion.
“Bob Bivens was the best player on the team. He could score and rebound. Billy was right there with him. They both played hard and were fierce competitors. Johnny Muir was our point guard and could always find the open man. If teams collapsed on Bob, Johnny made them pay. Bob and Billy both went into the Marines. Johnny went into the Navy. Bob owned a bar, Billy was a paint contractor and Johnny was an executive with Hertz,” said Baker.
Huston was not going to go out for the team. He played his junior year and didn’t start and was a four sport athlete. He was an all league football player and played baseball and ran track.
“I was going to take a season off and work on a turkey ranch and make some money. The guys on the team came to me and said that they wanted me on the team. They said that they needed a sub that could play if they were to win the championship. That is all that it took. I am glad that I went out. We only had about 18 guys on the football team so I knew how important depth and substitutes were,” said Huston.
Huston went on to the Navy for four years and then played four years of college football. He later came back to coach against Ramona in football before he moved on to coach and teach algebra in Bakersfield. He traveled from Meridian, Idaho, to attend the reunion. He and his wife, Claudia, have four children and 13 grandchildren.
Baker played football and track at RHS and is the team’s historian. He had clippings from papers and all league rosters provided by the Breitbard Athletic Foundation. Baker served in the Army and retired from General Dynamics. He thinks that playing basketball helped prepare him for his service and his other challenges in life. He has two children.
Dobrotin only played basketball at RHS After graduating from RHS he attended Cal Poly and UCLA and pursued a career in the aerospace industry and worked on spacecraft. He and his wife, Judy, have six children and seven grandchildren. He raced motorcycles before retiring.
Miller was the Big Man on the team. He was 6-feet 2-inches and 150 pounds, and also played football for the Bulldogs. He spent four years in the Navy and had a career as a meat cutter. He and his wife, Carol, have four children and 16 grandchildren. After leaving RHS he took up the sport of volleyball.
Schanke attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo after graduating from RHS, and earned a bachelor’s in electrical engineering and became an aerospace engineer. He has three children, two grandchildren and two great grandchildren. He is a black belt in karate and is a karate instructor.
There is an old adage used when teammates get together for a reunion: “The older we get, the better we were.” That is not the case with the 1952 Southern Prep League A champions. After meeting with them, I realize that they don’t get any better than them. They are still teammates, always have been and always will be.
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