Longmont High hails first boys basketball state title in 76 years
By Karen Antonacci, Staff Writer, Times-Call
Longmont High head boys basketball coach Jeff Kloster pointed to the boys basketball state championship banner hanging in the gym during Friday's pep rally.
"It was 76 years ago that Longmont High School last celebrated a state championship in basketball," Jeff Kloster said before the gathered student body.
Gesturing to the boys basketball team assembled behind him, he continued. "When these guys come back years from now, they can look over there and they will see the year 2018. When they look in the mirror everyday, they can know they are state champions for life," Jeff Kloster finished to thunderous applause from the bleachers.
The team won the state title after a nail-biter of a game Saturday night against Lewis-Palmer. Junior Oakley Dehning scored the game-winning basket, taking the game to 62-59.
Kloster talked about Longmont's underdog status going into the season and how they beat everyone's expectations.
"When we began the season, we were predicted to be fourth at best in the Northern Colorado conference and these young men went on a journey and they didn't know where it would take us," Jeff Kloster said. "They put in a lot of hard work ... they cared about each other and the individual goals were always second to the team's goals."
Jeff Kloster also thanked the school administration, the band, the cheerleaders and the fans in supporting the team in its journey to a state championship.
Jeff Kloster added in an interview that the championship win was especially meaningful to him because he has been head coach of the team for 24 years and has had brushes with the championship but never clinched the title.
"It's surreal. It's something I've dreamt about for a long time and we've fallen just short a few other times," Jeff Kloster said.
Junior Jayden Elkins said that it was important to the team to deliver a state championship to Jeff Kloster this year.
"It's something we needed to get done not for us, but for Coach Kloster because he's been here so long and working towards this," Elkins said as his teammates admired the trophy on display on Friday.
Cade Kloster, 24-year-old son of Jeff Kloster who played for the team in high school and is finishing up his first year as an assistant basketball coach and teacher at Longmont High, said that he was so happy to see the team go all the way.
"I was in the locker room since I was 3 (years old), meeting the guys and seeing them just miss the championship and seeing my dad get so close, for this group to do it is just amazing," Cade Kloster said. "They really worked as a team — guys would give up starting positions in a game if it was better for the team. To be able to do this with my dad during my first year here is just great. It's been a very emotional weekend."
Continuing the father-son theme of the morning pep rally, Longmont High head wrestling coach Matt Engelking also introduced his son, junior Drake Engelking, at the pep rally to cheers from the Trojan blue-clad crowd.
Drake Engelking won the Class 4A 160-pound state championship in February.
Longmont High School boys basketball head coach Jeff Kloster introduces the team including Oakley Dehning, smiling, center, who hit the game winning three-point basket, during an assembly to honor the state title winning team in Longmont on Friday. (Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer)