Peterson: Gremlins, Jets 1970 matchup memorable

The 1970 basketball game between Houghton and Jeffers could only be described as a one-of-a-kind happening.

Even though I wasn’t there to witness it, I’ve probably heard more about it than most other local athletic events since then.

The score of the game — a 134-62 victory by Houghton almost exactly 50 years ago — wasn’t notable because of the number of points scored.

It drew headlines because Gary Lange and Barney Salo of the Gremlins combined to score 109 points — still a state record for most points by two teammates in a single game.

Lange notched 60 points, which stood as a local record for one game until Brad Simonsen of Houghton laced 63 in a game last week versus Ishpeming.

Simonsen’s feat came in an 88-83 defeat, however.

Lange, who later played at Michigan Tech, and Salo both surpassed 1,000 points in their prep careers.

In fact, Lange accounted for more than 1,000 points in his MTU career.

A handful of local players, Dave Vertanen of Chassell, Roger Ryynanen of Jeffers, Bill Rivest of Dollar Bay and Jerome Soumis of Chassell also had 50-point games to their credit.

Soumis also had a local record 38 rebounds in the game against Hancock, which the Panthers lost.

The controversy in the Houghton-Jeffers game revolved about whether HHS had purposely rubbed in it in.

Late Jets coach Carl Johnson insisted the Gremlins had poured it on because of an upset win by his team the season before that cost Houghton the Copper Country Conference title.

Houghton skipper Fritz Wilson said he left Lange and Salo in the game so they could get the stats needed for postseason honors that winter.

All I know is that bitter feelings about the game were felt many years later in Painesdale, South Range, etc.

Say what you will about the “Second Battle of the Little Big Horn,” a nickname given to it back then.

But it’s a game, much like the 1976 six-overtime hockey game between Calumet and Houghton, that is still talked about to this day.


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