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Back row: Mr. Ricketts, G. Haney, R. Vitera, D. Balman, R. Gerstner, J. Krentz, Mr. Hansard. Front row: L. Webb, Pfeifer, J. Balman, Dan Johnson, Dean Johnson, N. Etter, M. Hudson.

Long Time Gone & Triumph at the Coliseum: Cheyenne Wells Tigers Capture 1955 Colorado State Championship

By Administrator

March 17, 2024

In the hallowed halls of Colorado high school basketball history, few stories resonate as profoundly as the triumphant tale of the Cheyenne Wells Tigers. The year was 1955, and under the bright lights of the Denver Coliseum, the Tigers etched their names in the chronicles of glory, clinching their second consecutive Class B State Championship.

The journey to this defining moment was anything but ordinary for the Cheyenne Wells Tigers. The stage was set in 1953 when they faced off against Fort Lupton, only to succumb to a 57-43 defeat. However, revenge tasted sweet in 1954 when the Tigers turned the tables, securing a decisive 57-43 victory over Fort Lupton to claim the Class B title. The Cheyenne Wells Tigers had risen, and their reign had just begun.

The 1955 championship game pitted the Tigers against the undefeated Palisade Bulldogs. With a season record of 24-2, the Tigers were ready for the challenge. As the clock ticked down, the Tigers found themselves in a nail-biting showdown, trailing the Bulldogs 47-44. Then came the defining moment, etched forever in the memory of those who witnessed it.

“What I remember most about that game was the end, with only seconds left on the clock, Robert Vitera put up a shot that won the game. It was a fun game to play in and a great team to be on,” reminisced John Krentz, one of the heroes of the night.

Glen Haney, another key player, reflected on the pride that surged through the team. “Our team was proud that our efforts highlighted Cheyenne Wells on the Colorado map. We were also proud to hear that people thought that our 1954 team was as good as or even better than an earlier team from Joes, Colorado.”

The game itself was a rollercoaster of emotions. The lead changed hands several times during the first quarter, with Cheyenne Wells leading 19-14 at the buzzer. Palisade mounted a comeback in the second quarter, but a late flurry gave Cheyenne Wells a 30-29 lead at halftime.

Down by four points at the end of the third quarter, the Tigers faced a fierce Palisade squad. The Bulldogs grabbed a 42-40 edge halfway through the last quarter, putting the championship on a razor’s edge. However, Haney’s drive tied the game, and Balman’s clutch plays set the stage for Vitera’s heroics. With only seconds left, Vitera’s shot found the mark, sealing the Tigers’ destiny as back-to-back champions.

The Cheyenne Wells basketball teams of 1953, 1954, and 1955 left an indelible mark on Colorado high school basketball. In 1995, the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) recognized the 1955 team for their exceptional achievements. These teams were pioneers of an upbeat style of play, excelling in both offense and defense, and their legacy continues to inspire generations of basketball enthusiasts.

The 1955 Cheyenne Wells Tigers were more than champions; they were trailblazers, leaving an enduring legacy that still echoes through the corridors of Colorado basketball history. Unfortunately it would be 69-years before this glory would once again find the Cheyenne Wells Tiger men’s basketball team.

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