It had been more than a decade since Steve Ortiz had been inside Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium — back when Damen Bell-Holter wore a Ketchikan High School uniform in the late 2000s.
Bell-Holter was back at Kayhi, as well, this weekend. But this time as an assistant coach for the visiting Thunder Mountain High School Falcons.
But for a moment on Friday night, all eyes were on one current King — Ketchikan senior Chris Lee.
Lee entered Friday’s game against Thunder Mountain 20 points shy of Ortiz’s all-time scoring record of 1,788, set in the early 1970s. Ortiz graduated in 1974, and his record had stood for 46 years.
That was, until the fourth quarter on Friday night.
“It’s a big night tonight, I think,” Ortiz said with a smile at halftime on Friday. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Lee had 15 points through two quarters on Friday, needing five to tie Ortiz, and six to break the record.
A free throw in the third quarter inched Lee one-point closer in the third quarter. And a basket early in the fourth quarter gave Lee 18 points in the game.
A 3-pointer at the 5:48 mark in the fourth quarter was when Kayhi history was made, as Lee eclipsed the mark for his 1,789th career point.
Ortiz stood with that same giant grin, and applauded.
“This started coming up about a month ago when people started sending my wife and I some notes, and saying, ‘Hey, (Chris Lee) has a really great chance to be the all-time scorer for Kayhi.’ So we kept kind of following it. We got clippings. ... So that was kind of exciting. I think it’s great. He seems like a really nice kid.”
Ortiz and his wife now live in Kirkland, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. But he still has friends and family in the First City.
Ortiz has fond memories of his senior year. That 1974 team won the state championship, and until last season, was the last state title the Kings had won.
“I still have a lot of friends in town and a lot of great classmates,” he said. “We had a great class in 1974. The whole class was great. But the team — we were small, but we could shoot the lights out. We had five guys that could really shoot well. And that was the key to our success. Plus, we had Garry Craig who was a great rebounder.”
And that 1974 bunch was a close-knit group.
“The thing I remember so much was by the time we were seniors — that group — we had a lot of confidence,” Ortiz said. “... We would go on the road and beat teams.”
With names like Bill Pattison, Gene Walters, Steve McDonald, that 1974 group was solid.
“We would spread the ball around, and whoever had the hot hand, we would feed him,” Ortiz said.
Now 63 years old, Ortiz still follows the game, although he watches more NBA than college basketball. And up until last summer, he still played. But it began taking too long for his knees to recover.
“(My) knees ached too badly,” he said. “... (It) took three days to recover.”
He still shoots the ball around in gyms though, and plays against the younger generation — players closer to Lee’s age.
“It was a different game back then,” Ortiz said. “Now, these kids are great athletes, and the defenses are better. ... Overall, it’s just a fast game now, with faster defenses.”
But for 46 years Ortiz’s record stood.
“I was aware I had (the record),” Ortiz said. “My brother-in-law is John Brown. ... So we keep in touch all the time.”
Lee passed John Brown for second all-time on Jan. 25 — the last time the Kings and Thunder Mountain played each other.
The Kings lost 47-46 to Thunder Mountain on Friday. Lee finished the game with 22 points.
Ortiz went to the Kings’ game against the Falcons on Saturday, as well, and watched the Kings win 51-46 over the Falcons. Lee scored another 29 points in that game, and now sits at 1,819 career tallies.