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Sun, Feb. 23

Vikings of 1980 to be honored in February<br>

Left are the 1980 Vikings Arizona State B Conference Basketball Champions who will be honored at the February state finals this season in Glendale. Back row, from left, is Assistant Coach Neal Bohnsack, players Jeff Wright, Doug Baxter, Fran Schulte, Chuckie Sandoval, and Head Coach Dee Hershey. Middle row includes players Tom Fruth, Greg Hoffman, Johnny Hatcher, Eddie Sandoval, and Team Manager Ernie Lopez. Front row features players John Santana, Michael Gray, Clay Wiese, and Andy Cooper.

On Feb. 26, the Arizona Interscholastic Association will hold a ceremony honoring the 1980 WHS Vikings basketball team as part of the 2004-2005 state 2A conference basketball finals being held at the Glendale Arena.

“They (Vikings) were really the Cinderella team of the tournament,” said AIA’s Barry Sollenberger.

Coached by Dee Hershey, the team came into the finals that year with a 15-6 record after beating Antelope High School 83-74 in Prescott. They left as the 2A champions with an 18-6 record after beating the favored team — Thatcher — 74-73.

For three seasons prior, both Williams and Thatcher — then labeled “B conference” — had been the top two Arizona teams in their conference.

According to the March 6, 1980, issue of the News, the Vikes were down by five with only two minutes, 18 seconds left in the game. Johnny Hatcher sank an 11-foot jump shot with 2:04 left to bring Williams within three. Sophomore Tom Fruth then closed the gap to within one point with two free-throw shots. Four more free-throws allowed the Vikings to keep the lead throughout the remaining seconds of the game, ensuring their victory.

That year, point guard Michael Gray was awarded the team’s Most Valuable Player label and was a first-team all-state pick.

Those wishing to attend the ceremony and relive the victory can contact Sollenberger at (602) 385-3822.

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