In 1961, eleven players from the John D. Pierce High School accomplished their ultimate goal: winning their Class D State Basketball Championship. That same year, their high school was permanently closed.
Fifty-two years later, members of the team are still reminiscing about their days in high school and their time on the basketball court. Six out of the eleven former Pierce players, along with the cheerleaders and students of John D. Pierce, gathered Sunday at the Landmark Inn for a celebration dinner. It was the culmination of a weekend long class reunion that former class president Larry Laurich helped organize.
"Trying to get together is difficult because we're all over the country," said Laurich. "When we do get together, it's a celebration. This class had a unique experience of being together from first grade through twelfth grade, and then going on to win the State Championship."
At the dinner, Laurich and other members of the team exchanged stories of high school pranks, basketball championship stories, but most importantly how they stuck together as a team.
They defeated Cement City 59-57 in the semifinal game at East Lansing High School. From there, they went onto the championship game against Freesoil, winning 68-61 at Michigan State University's Jenision Fieldhouse. They were also coached by the late Victor Hurst.
"He was honest, straight forward, a disciplinarion, but he was still a forgiving person," said Don Hurst, son of Victor Hurst. "[The players] claimed that he helped mold their lives off of the basketball court."
A highlight of the night was bringing out the coach's trophy and the state trophy. At the end, the group shared a very special moment as they watched a DVD of their state championship game.
"We enjoy each other's company so much; it's like family," Laurich said.