The history of Spokane high school basketball would not be complete without mention of Lewis and Clark’s legendary coach, Elra L. “Squinty” Hunter.
Squinty Hunter was born in Iowa in 1899 and moved with his family as a small boy to Moscow, Idaho, where he attended school before entering the University of Idaho in 1917. While playing forward for the Vandal basketball team he was twice selected All-Coast.
He became Lewis and Clark’s head basketball coach in 1924, and led them to their first state title in 1926. He then left LC for a year to serve as an assistant coach at St. Louis University, but returned to the school in 1928 where he was appointed athletic director, a post he held until his retirement in 1964.
He once again took the reins of Tiger basketball in 1929 and made them the dominant team for decades in the Spokane City League. LC won twelve straight league championships from 1933 to 1944.
His 1943 squad went 16-0. Because of the war there was no state tournament that year, but Lewis and Clark was named the unofficial state champion. In 1983 the WIAA issued a certificate making the title official.
Hunter led LC to two more state championships, in 1944 and 1949, and finished second in 1958, losing out to Richland. The Tigers were a regular fixture in Seattle during his tenure, making 21 appearances, the same number of league titles his teams won during his 39 years as coach. His league record was 259-112 with nearly 500 wins overall. LC’s Fieldhouse was named in his honor in 1966.
Squinty and his wife, Ecola, never had children, but his life was filled with former players who stayed close friends. Some even became fellow educators. They were affectionately known as “The Bird Dogs.”
At the time of his passing in 1993, many of his players spoke fondly of him, both as a coach and a man. “I never knew anyone I liked more or thought more of” said Bud Roffler. Bill Anderson, who served for a time as principal at LC, stated “When you think of Squinty, you think of morals and self-discipline,” and Bob Lobdell offered “”He never berated his players or embarrassed them at games.”
He was known as “Squinty” but his other well-earned nickname was “Gentleman.”