BLAST FROM THE PAST: Last week’s 1950s team had later area connectionsWORTHINGTON — As I mentioned in last week’s feature (Aug. 18) which highlighted the basketball accomplishments of 15 selected individuals to the Daily Globe’s All-Area Team of the 1950s, much research, discussion and deliberation went into that project.
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — As I mentioned in last week’s feature (Aug. 18) which highlighted the basketball accomplishments of 15 selected individuals to the Daily Globe’s All-Area Team of the 1950s, much research, discussion and deliberation went into that project.
Surprisingly, we have not had much feedback on the choices.
That could mean that the research was done well and the selections were accurately picked — or it could mean that readers paid little attention to the feature and had no reason to respond.
Based on numerous favorable comments about previous “Blasts from the Past,” I am optimistic that it is the first — the selected players were all among the best that “old” Districts 7 and 8 produced in high school boys’ basketball during the decade of the ‘50s.
I am working on selecting the area’s best from the 1960s and the plan is to reveal that group in Friday’s edition. Growing up as a dyed-in-the-wool basketball fan during that decade, I saw many of those players perform — and was in “awe” of what they could do on the court.
In browsing through the back issues of the Globe, I have been especially fascinated with the January-March, 1966 volume — which is right smack in the middle of the decade.
Westbrook and Windom in District 7, along with Worthington and Luverne in District 8, were absolutely “loaded” that winter. It was fun looking back and learning more about those teams and the quality players on each of them.
Before I go back to some interesting connecting factors among last week’s team of the 1950s, I will mention some of the interesting items that I came across from those first memorable months of 1966.
Edgerton, which had not lost a home game since Jan. 9, 1959 (to Ellsworth), had a seven-year homecourt winning streak snapped on Jan. 14 when Jasper rallied from a 12-point deficit with a 20-point fourth quarter to knot the score at 66-all at the end of regulation.
Jasper won in overtime, 79-72, as Ron Giese poured in 33 points for the Quartz-Siters.
Claris Bleyenberg and Norm Van Dyke led a balanced Flying Dutchmen attack with 20 and 19 points, respectively.
I wonder how many consecutive home games Edgerton won over that span?
Seven years multiplied by nine games would be 63. Was the streak that many games?
Speaking of streaks, four nights later — on Jan. 18 — Brewster snapped a 27-game losing streak by earning a homecourt, 58-50, victory over Adrian.
Jim Clausen (22), Tony Nelson (20) and Bernie Thiner (10) each scored in double figures for the Bulldogs, who followed that win up with a 49-46 victory over the Ocheyedan Mounders, also at Brewster, three nights later.
Clausen (17) and Ron Kaufman (10) notched double figures that night as the Bulldogs won two in a row.
Four nights later, the BHS win streak was stopped by Sioux Valley as Ken Spessard scored 25 points in a 79-49 SVHS victory at Brewster.
Thiner led the Bulldogs, who were playing at home for the third straight game, with 12 points.
The same night that Brewster won its close game over Ocheyedan, Balaton’s Carl Johnson — who stood 6-9½ — scored 62 points as the undefeated Warriors rolled to a 101-34 victory over Ruthton.
Johnson later was named to the WCCO Radio “Prep Parade” Team of the Year — as was Walnut Grove’s 6-9 Tom Masterson.
Balaton, however, was in District 9 and Walnut Grove was in District 10, so neither Johnson nor Masterson is eligible for Friday’s all-area ‘60s team.
Jay Steen averages nearly 30 ppg for high-scoring Bluejays in ‘66
On the junior college scene, Slayton’s Henry Hintermeister had a 36-point game as the Worthington State Bluejays won a high-scoring thriller, 108-99, over Mankato Bethany.
Storden’s Jay Steen was leading the Bluejays that winter with an average of 26.3 points per game, including a 40-point night against Freeman (S.D.) Junior College in the final home game (at the Worthington High School gym) of the season.
The powerful forward scored in the 30s several times and averaged 29.3 ppg in conference games.
As high as Steen’s point production was — he was a bit behind Austin Junior College’s Wayne Lerud, who was leading the nation (NJCAA) in scoring with an amazing 35.8 points per game.
An exceptional outside shooter — two decades before the 3-point shot — Lerud averaged 33.3 ppg in conference action.
And then there was Rick Wendorff’s 22-point and 22-rebound performance to lead Fulda to a 63-55 victory over Jasper in early February.
Those are just some of the interesting things that I came across this week while researching area high school basketball in 1966.
Beetsch played for Mankato, later coached at Windom, Red Wing
Last week, I mentioned how Floyd “Butch” Johnson scored 112 points in four games to lead Slayton to the 1950 District 8 championship.
In the Region 2 tournament at Myrum Field House at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, the Wildcats were defeated by perennial power Mankato.
Leading the Scarlets was sophomore forward Dick Beetsch, who scored double figures in both of Mankato’s regional victories and played in the 1950 state tournament.
Beetsch was still playing for the Scarlets the next two seasons when Worthington won District 8 and played in the regional tournament.
Don Basche was the Trojans’ center when Mankato and Worthington squared off in the third-place game in 1951 (Mountain Lake beat the Trojans, 28-23, and Sherburn edged Mankato, 40-38, in the ’51 semifinals).
Beetsch, who scored 15 points in the loss to Sherburn, netted eight points in Mankato’s 39-34 victory over Worthington.
Eldon Voss scored 14 points to lead the Trojans in their final game of the ’51 campaign.
Beetsch, coached four seasons at Windom (’64-67), including the 1966 Region 2 championship campaign, while Basche — who coached Worthington for 29 seasons (’62-90) — guided the Trojans to the Southwest Conference crown that same year, defeating the Eagles twice.
Basche played on back-to-back district championships in ’51 and ’52 and was coaching in ’66 when the Trojans won their first District 8 title in 14 seasons.
But Basche and Beetsch were not the only players from the early ‘50s that coached against each other in the ‘60s.
Five from ‘50s team coached in the SW Conference in the ‘60s
Pipestone’s Jack Kelly (Windom, ’68-93) Mountain Lake’s John Schultz (Jackson, ’69-74) and Basche all coached against each other in the Southwest Conference for several seasons in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.
A decade earlier (late 50’s, early 60’s) Jasper’s Bill Sexton coached at Slayton and Slayton’s Jed Dommeyer coached at Windom, while Kelly was Dommeyer’s assistant.
Those three — along with several other area coaches, including George Hess at Estherville and Mac Nettleton at Mountain Lake — played with the Independent Heron Lake Lakers during those years.
Heron Lake High School superintendent Hal Haugejorde, who had coached Sexton at Jasper at the beginning of the ‘50s, also played “town team” basketball with those Lakers.
Forrest “Butch” Meyeraan, who helped Worthington reach the District 8 finals as a senior in 1957, may have also played with the Lakers during his one year of teaching and coaching at HLHS in ’61-62.
Kelly, who played lots of “town team” baseball, was a teammate of Jasper’s Lloyd “Butch” Raymond on Pipestone’s state championship amateur team in the summer of 1958 and then later played with both Dommeyer and Mountain Lake’s Noel Rahn for Windom during a state tournament-run in the summer of 1961.
While Raymond never coached in the Southwest Conference, he was coaching Fairmont in 1966 when the Cardinals tangled with Beetsch’s Eagles in a first-round regional game.
Kelly and Basche, who played against each other in high school and coached against each other throughout the entire decades of the ‘70s and ‘80s, each had sons that that competed against each other in the last years of the 1970s.
Kelly’s son Kent starred for Windom, graduating in 1979, while Basche’s boys Jeff (’78) and Scott (’79) were doing the same for Worthington.
It is amazing how many later “connections” there were among the 15 “selected” individuals for last week’s 1950s all-area team.