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Laurel basketball makes lasting mark on Locomotives cheerleader

One of the most enjoyable aspects of writing my Laurel basketball book has been the research. Specifically, doors have opened to meeting people willing to share quite interesting life stories .

That experience occurred again about two weeks ago. I placed a call early one morning to Las Vegas for an interview with one of the Laurel cheerleaders from the fabled 1968-69 Locomotives basketball season.

Patti (Daley) Kennedy was one of four juniors that year on Laurel’s five-girl spirit squad .

Nowadays, she’s a well-established real estate agent who splits her time between Vegas and Duck Creek , Utah

Besides marketing and selling vacation properties, she looks after her 97-year-old father .

Kennedy moved to Las Vegas in the mid-’70s. She arrived in time for the heyday of the Running Rebels. The Rebels, the men’s basketball team of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, burst onto the national scene behind the coaching of Jerry “Tark the Shark” Tarkanian

Kennedy, a professed serious basketball fan, said she’s watched the Rebels on many occasions. Interestingly, watching Laurel win  all 26 games of the ‘68-’69 season (capped by a State Big 32 championship victory over Kalispell) gave her a perspective to compare that team with Tarkanian’s teams.

Guess what ? The Laurel squad coached by Don Peterson stacks up very well against the bigtime Rebels squad. according to Kennedy.

“I’d go to those (UNLV) games and think, I totally get this,” Kennedy said.

“Of course, it’s gotten much more flamboyant with the slamdunks and all that. But still it was the basic stuff that I watched in Laurel. That cohesive(ness), like the team was one unit.

” I just can see it in my mind – constantly passing back and forth . There was no kind of showy person always in the center,” Kennedy said, describing both Laurel and UNLV teams of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

Guess you could say those Locomotives from 45 years ago have stood the test of time in the eyes of someone who lived and breathed Peterson’s brand of basketball .

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Jamie Larson