LMC celebrates greatest team ever...50 years later - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

LMC celebrates greatest team ever...50 years later

JACKSONVILLE, TEXAS (KLTV) - It was half a century ago when David Klimpel was a Lon Morris Bearcat.

"It kind of comes back, almost instantaneously those good times do," said Klimpel, "I am amazed we did as well as we did and proud of it, it was a great time."

50 years after they last took the court together, members of the 1962 Lon Morris basketball team were reunited, invited back by the school they took to national prominence.

"Once you look at them for a second, it all starts flooding back like it was yesterday," said Jim Bob Smith, a captain on the '62 team.

"You do see these guys, and you start remembering things that happened along the way" said Jerry Wade, also a captain on the team, "And you realize these were great friends."

They were even better basketball players, the '62 team made headlines all across East Texas as they advanced to the junior college national championship game.

They are the only team in Lon Morris history to do so.

"That is a real point of pride, it is something that you cannot take away," said Smith, "So it fills you with a lot of pride."

"It makes you proud to know you were on the best team they have had in their history," said Ken Norman, who led the team in scoring that year.

In the end, the '62 team would take 2nd place in the nation, losing to Coffeyville in the finals.

While the faces of the players would change over the next 50 years, the names stayed the same and the memories, continued to grow.

"It was just a fantastic experience here, to play for the national championship and for Lon Morris," said Norman.

"It has been 50 years and I have had a lot of great experiences," said Klimpel, "It is one of the highlights of my entire life to have been a part and been associated with this school and that team."

The team was also honored at halftime of the Lon Morris game on Saturday, where they were presented with the 1962 national runner-up trophy.

*Copyright, KLTV 2012, All Rights Reserved.

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