Former Rochester coach Powers dies at 95
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Former Rochester boys basketball coach Jim Powers, who guided the Zebras to back-to-back sectional titles in 1971-72, died Sunday. He was 95.
Powers coached the Zebras from 1969-72. Succeeding Skip Collins as coach, he compiled a 56-15 record at RHS.
Led by stars like Jay Elliott, Dave Buckingham, Bruce Grimm and Denny Deeb, the Zebras won the Northern Lakes Conference title with a 7-0 mark in 1971. In the 50 years since, Rochester has compiled an undefeated conference record only three times since – 7-0 in the NLC in 1974, 7-0 in the NLC in 1975 and 9-0 in the TRC in 2021.
Rochester beat Akron and Warsaw to win the 1971 sectional. They beat Plymouth in the regional semifinals before falling 77-69 to Elkhart in the final.
Grimm starred in 1972, averaging 30 ppg as a junior for a Zebra team that went 19-5. RHS again beat Akron and Warsaw to win the sectional. They then beat Columbia City in the regional semifinal before dropping a 69-67 overtime decision to Penn in the regional final.
Powers then left to become the first coach in the history of Elkhart Memorial High School. Jim Powers Jr. transferred to Elkhart Memorial following his sophomore season in 1972, and the younger Powers helped his father win sectional and regional titles at Elkhart Memorial in 1974 by averaging 23.5 ppg.
A 1943 South Bend Central High School grad and a 1950 Indiana State University grad, Powers’ high school and college coach was John Wooden.
He was the South Bend Central coach from 1958-69, where he won 174 games. A trip to the 1963 state finals highlighted his tenure there.
Powers was a 1993 inductee into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
Galen Smith, who succeeded Powers as coach in 1972, died on Nov. 28.