Vidakovich column: Demons vs. Sailors, 1971; a hoops season to remember |

Vidakovich column: Demons vs. Sailors, 1971; a hoops season to remember

Mike Vidakovich

I bumped into Jim Nadon a few weeks back, and even though we hadn’t seen each other in several years, he skipped completely the usual pleasantries that almost always go along with spotting a familiar face, and jokingly let me know that he continued to be in a state of disbelief that I had not written a column yet about the epic 1971 Glenwood Demon basketball season, and the four unforgettable games that year with the Steamboat Sailors.

Jim, who has been a successful businessman in Glenwood Springs for many years, was a senior on the ’71 installment of that Demon team that defeated the Sailors three out of the four times that they met. But with both teams advancing to the state tournament in Denver in the spring, the Demons were relegated to the consolation bracket after an opening night loss to Highland Ault, while Steamboat would string together three consecutive wins to capture the class AA state championship.

Glenwood left the big city that weekend with a championship also, but it was a fifth place finish as winners of the consolation bracket after wins over Center and Denver Christian following that first-round defeat. Even some 50 years later, Jim still shakes his head at the thought of Steamboat taking away the gold basketball trophy that he thought rightfully belonged to the Demons.

Jim pointed out to me that the Sailors’ only losses that entire season came at the hands of Glenwood.

Glenwood had a talented group in 1971 with the likes of Kjell Mitchell, Kirk Lyons, Steve Hageman, John Courier, Jon Swartzendruber, Paul Samuelson, David Deane and Nadon leading the way. But Steamboat was no slouch, either. The Sailors had a solid backcourt trio, and a couple of giants up front in 6-foot-7 Chris Kearns and 6-foot-5 David Combs.

I was only in fourth grade that year, but with my brother Dick Vidakovich being a key reserve for the Demons, my parents towed me along to most every game and I was at each of the four Demon/Sailor collisions.

Three of those games were played in Glenwood, including a Monday night playoff to determine the Northwestern League champion, after both teams had beaten each other on their home court. The Demons won, and went on to win the district tournament the following weekend.

One telling point of those great games that I failed to point out to Jim was the fact that the three games played on the Demons’ home court were all down-to-the-wire affairs, while the Sailors, by a convincing count of 71-57, throttled Glenwood in Steamboat Springs. If they had played all four games on a neutral court that year, who knows what may have happened.

The Sailors got the final laugh, but one thing is for sure, those two teams in ’71 were two of the best I have ever seen around these parts, and the four games between the two rest in Demon lore as memorable to those who have been in Glenwood long enough to remember. They were both state championship caliber teams.

Thursday nights at the Glenwood Bowl

Jim Roy and his wife Dorlene will be leaving Glenwood in the coming months to retire in Florida. Jim’s parents, Walt and Bonnie Roy, were the owners of the old Glenwood Bowl located just south of town for many years.

I spent much of my childhood at the bowling alley watching my mom and dad on various leagues, especially my father’s Thursday night team of Don Miller, Corky Lyons, Marvin Meyers and Bob Jones.

Jim helped his parents run the bowling alley until its closure in the 1990s. An avid golfer, Jim has also been an integral part of the pro shop team at the Glenwood Golf Course for as long as I can remember. He will be missed by many.

Best of luck to you and Dorlene in your retirement, Jim. Thanks for the memories.

There will be a going away party for Jim and Dorlene this coming Saturday, Oct. 23, at the Glenwood Golf Course from 2-6 p.m.

Glenwood Springs native Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer, teacher and youth sports coach. His column appears on occasion in the Post Independent and at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.