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50 years ago, WHS defeats Luverne

Blast from the Past

WORTHINGTON -- Here it is, Ground Hog Day already and our mild winter of 2011-2012 continues to pleasantly surprise us.

Will today's shadow sighting in Pennsylvania signify six more weeks, or will Punxsutawney Phil not see his shadow as he peers from his burrow -- some 84 miles northeast of Pittsburgh --and stay outside, indicating a quick end to winter?

It seems like Phil has been out and about for quite some time, as this has been an amazingly mild winter.

Twenty-five years ago, we also had a very mild winter in 1987, but what a different scenario was taking place in the area 50 years ago in 1962.

In January of 1962 when a single issue of the Daily Globe cost 10 cents, there were 18 days of below zero temperatures and there was lots of snow. As the calendar turned to February and later to March, more snow and high winds created frequent blizzards and just miserable driving conditions throughout southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa.

In my last two "Blasts," I have reminisced back to that winter of '61-62 with some of the local sporting event highlights from mid-December and early January.

A brief follow-up on one of those games will be brought up later.

Two big games which happened in 1962 during the week that January became February -- when "Peppermint Twist" by Joey Dee and The Starliters had moved into Billboard's top spot and Gene's Chandler's classic "Duke of Earl" was climbing the charts -- were Slayton's victory over Edgerton on Tuesday, Jan. 30 and Worthington's win over Luverne 50 years ago tonight, Friday, Feb. 2, 1962.

Despite graduating four starters, including the high-scoring inside-outside combination of Dean Veenhof and Darrell Kreun -- both of whom scored well over 1,000 points in their three years as Flying Dutchmen starters -- Edgerton was undefeated in late January, having won 11 straight games.

Playing in front of a packed house at Slayton on Tuesday, the 30th, the home-town Wildcats earned quarter leads of 11-5, 26-17 and 38-30, as SHS -- coached by Jasper native Bill Sexton, a collegiate basketball star at St. John's in Collegeville during the middle 1950's -- claimed a 54-46 victory, giving Edgerton its first loss of the campaign.

Tracy Hafner scored a game-high 19 points to lead Slayton, while Bob Swenson talled 12 for the Wildcats, who also snapped Edgerton's undefeated B-squad season in the preliminary game, 42-32.

The Schoolmeester cousins -- sophomore Vernon and senior Larry (a top reserve on Edgerton's undefeated 1960 one-class state championship team) -- paced the Flying Dutchmen with 15 and 14 points, respectively.

An interesting note on Edgerton's remarkable success during the early 1960s is that the school's only three District 8 championships came during the four-year tenure of Rich Olson, who guided the Dutchmen to titles in 1960, 1961 and 1963. EHS had undefeated regular seasons in both '60 and '63.

Three nights after Slayton's thrilling victory over Edgerton, Worthington hosted Luverne in a Southwestern Conference (it was a five-team league known as the Southwestern in '61-62) rematch.

Ever since a victory by the Trojans in the '55-56 season, the Cardinals had rattled off 13 straight wins over Worthington. A couple of them were close, including one overtime game and teh 1957 District 8 championship game -- won by Luverne, 59-57.

But each time over that span of six seasons, Luverne had come out on top.

Bolting out to 20-14 first-quarter lead, the Trojans were determined to end Luverne's streak and opened up a 12-point halftime advantage, 39-27, after winning the second period by a 19-13 spread.

Luverne battled back, winning the third quarter by a 17-12 count, slicing the Trojans' lead to 51-44. Worthington, however, held off the Cardinals in the fourth quarter, as each team netted 14 points and WHS emerged with a well-played, 65-58, victory, over their Highway 16 rivals 30 miles to the west.

Vince DeBates scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Trojans, while Gene Oltmans (15) and Scott Johnson (12) also had double-figure scoring games for WHS.

Luverne had three players -- Lynn Geving (20), Wayne Emery (17) and Ronald Friestad (10) score in double figures.

Both teams had 9-5 overall records after the game.

Shirl Held named new WHS superintendent

While the game story of the Worthington vs. Luverne game was told on the sports page of the Monday afternoon edition of the Daily Globe (Feb. 5), the front page featured a story about the hiring of Shirl Held as the new superintendent for the Worthington School District.

Held, 43, would replace the retiring W.H. Durbahn for the '62-63 school year. Held's previous experience included five years as a science and mathematics teacher at Wadena, two years as high school principal in Mora, two years as superintendent at Grove City, five years as superintendent at Winthrop and two years as the Benson superintendent.

Held stayed on as Worthington's superintendent for 20 years, retiring in 1982.

Heron Lake public closed for two days due to flu outbreak

Another interesting front page story was found on the Wednesday, Jan. 31 edition.

"Heron Lake School to Reopen" ran the headline. "Flu Believed To Have Hit Peak" was the sub-head.

Superintendent Harold Haugejorde announced that after closing for two days due to a flu outbreak which caused 25 percent of the students and three teachers to miss school on Monday, the Heron Lake public school would reopen on Thursday (Feb. 1) after being closed on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

I was a fifth-grader, but don't really remember this?

I sure remember, however, the WCCO Radio announcement on snow days, saying: "Hanska, Hector, Heron Lake Public and Parochial closed."

That was a joyful message for a fifth-grader.

Jackson, Fulda, Ceylon, Edgerton were leading

Here were the conference basketball (boys) standings from 50 years ago this week -- before the Worthington win over Luverne -- conference games only.

Southwestern (five-team league became the eight-team Southwest the next year): Jackson (4-2), Luverne (3-2), Windom (3-2), Pipestone (3-3), Worthington (0-4).

Seven Star: Fulda (4-0), Mountain Lake (4-2), Lakefield (3-2), Springfield (2-3), Lamberton (2-3), Slayton (1-3), Walnut Grove (0-4).

Southern Star: Ceylon (9-0), Brewster (8-1), Granada (5-2), East Chain (6-4), Okabena (5-4), Welcome (5-5), Sioux Valley (3-6), Huntley (2-6), Round Lake (1-8), Heron Lake (0-9).

Tri-County: Edgerton (10-0), Ellsworth (8-2), Hills (5-4), Magnolia (4-5), Lake Wilson (3-5), Beaver Creek (2-7), Adrian (2-7), Chandler (0-8).

Marshall, Redwood Falls and Slayton joined the Southwest and Westbrook replaced Slayton in the Seven Star, otherwise these leagues stayed intact through the '60s and much of the '70s before consolidations and pairings began the process of changes and realignments.

Fulda, Brewster both win, continue fine basketball seasons

As the calendar turned to the second week of February, approaching Valentine's Day, in 1962, both Fulda and Brewster recorded victories over good teams on the evening of Tuesday, Feb. 13.

Brewster improved to 14-2 with a hard-fought, 67-60, overtime win over a fine Jeffers squad at Brewster. The Bulldogs outscored the Wolves by a 10-3 spread in the extra three minutes after the score was tied at 57-all at the end of the first 32 minutes.

John Silver led BHS with 20 points, while the McNab brothers -- Gary and Warren -- each scored 16 points and Terry Everson netted 12.

Terry Burmeister had a big game for Jeffers, netting a game-high 27 points, while Gary Pawlitschek scored 15 points for the Wolves.

That same night, the Fulda Raiders traveled south along Highway 59 and took on the Worthington Trojans in a non-conference clash.

Putting four players in double figures, the Raiders rallied from an eight-point deficit after one quarter to claim an impressive 66-53 victory and became a sparkling 11-3 for the season.

After the Trojans had worked to a 19-11 opening-quarter lead, Fulda tied the contest by halftime (29-29) and then outscored WHS by a 15-8 margin in the third quarter as the Raiders held a 44-37 advantage heading into the final eight minutes.

The Raiders won the high-scoring fourth quarter by a 22-16 spread and enjoyed a happy bus ride home with a 13-point win.

Jerome Dierks (17), Gary DeGrote (15), Jack Stenke (12) and Jerry Wagner (11) combined for 54 of Fulda's points, while the trio of John Hughes (15), Vince DeBates (14) and Scott Johnson (11) notched double figures for Worthington.

Terry Dischinger, Jimmy Rayl 1-2 in Big 10 scoring; remember Bill Flemming every Saturday afternoon?

A lasting memory of mine from the early 1960s is Saturday afternoon Big 10 basketball with Bill Flemming. We had only a couple of channels then and certainly did not get to watch all the college basketball that the various channels have now.

But Saturday afternoons at 3:00 were pretty special when announcer Bill Flemming came on with NBC's Big 10 Game of the Week.

In early February of 1962, Purdue senior Terry Dischinger had just passed Indiana's high-scoring guard Jimmy Rayl in the league's individual scoring chase. Dischinger, who led the Big 10 in scoring as both a sophomore and junior the two previous seasons, was seeking a third individual title after netting 47 points vs. Indiana and 38 against Iowa.

After those two performances, Dischinger was averaging 31.7 points per Big 10 game. Rayl was a close second (31.1), followed by Iowa's Don Nelson (27.3), Ohio State's Jerry Lucas (23.2), Minnesota's Eric Magdanz (22.7), Illinois' Dave Downey (22.1) and Wisconsin's Ken Siebel (20.1).

Needless to say, watching those Big 10 scoring stars as an elementary-aged kid was a big deal.

1962 trip to Granada remembered by Smith

In my last "Blast" (Dec. 31), I mentioned the big Southern Star Conference game at Granada on Friday night Jan. 6, 1962 when the Eagles hosted Brewster. Both teams were undefeated at the time and the Bulldogs escaped with a hard-fought, 67-63, victory.

Brewster's Wayne Smith, like me, was a fifth-grader during the '61-62 school year. He came up to me at the New Year's Eve dance in Wilmont where "Starfire" was cranking out the tunes and "taking" the large crowd "back in time."

"Hey, I liked your story this morning," Wayne said. "I was at that game. I was a fifth-grader and went to Granada with my dad, Earl, my friend Mike Naumann, his dad, Red, and my friend Brian Busch and his dad, Bill.

"It was the first time that I ever got to go to an away game and that made it even more fun. I can still remember sitting up in the balcony at Granada and how happy we all were when Brewster won.

"Then, after the game, we went to the café in Granada and that's the first time I ever had a Dr. Pepper -- all they had in Brewster was Coke and 7-Up."

Ah, going to high school basketball games when you were an elementary kid in the early 1960s -- those are lasting memories for "Baby Boomers" like Wayne Smith and myself.