There were Nebraska high school teams more heavily favored to be a state champion in their sport than Lincoln East’s 1970-71 boys basketball team. The Spartans weren’ t necessarily big by basketball standards. They had a scrap on their hands just to get out of districts.

What sets the Hall of Fame’s Silver Anniversary Team winner off from the others that year was how they won their state championship. They had the best won-lost record in Class A, 19-2, and they had a great state tournament, a thrilling run to the 1971 state championship in a era filled with great basketball players and teams.

East’s exciting three days began with a 76-69 win over Alliance. Next was Hastings by 84-83 and that one could have gone either way. And the 74-72 title win over Papillion came on a last-second shot by Scott Copple on an out-of-bounds play regarded one of the most thrilling windup of any boys basketball state tournament game. Ever.

1971 Lincoln East Spartans:

10 Jack Ball 5-10 Jr.
42 Tom Bothwell 6-0 So.
24 Bryce Carlson 6-0 Jr.
40 Scott Copple 6-2 Jr.
52 Reg Gast 6-2 So.
20 Steve Joekel 12 Sr.
30 Rob Ogden 6-0 Sr.
22 Kent Reckewey 6-1 Sr.
44 Rick Samuelson 6-3 So.
14 Chris Siefkes 5-11 Jr.
32 Gene Smith 6-0 Jr.
34 Kurt Stacey 6-0 So.
Student Manager-Joe Bryant

Head Coach-Paul Forch

Assistants-Ken Rippe, Rudy Stoehr, Ed McPherren