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BLAST: Jackson, Edgerton emerge as 1963 district champions

File Photo Jackson's Kent Borchard (43) pulls down a rebound in the District 7 championship game against Windom at Worthington on Thursday March 7, 1963. Also in the picture are Jackson's Bill Drahota (45) and Windom's Jim Silliman (42), Mike Ratzloff (44) and Dave Palm (40). Borchard scored 30 points, leading the Bluejays to a dramatic 56-55 overtime victory.

WORTHINGTON -- Silverberg's was selling Minnesota Twins' youth jackets for $3.99 (sizes 3 to 6x) and sizes 8-16 were priced at $4.99, Schafer's Grocery was selling three pounds of hamburger for $1.00, a two-pound can of Butternut coffee for $1.15 and nine cans of Campbell's Tomato Soup for 99 cents, a single issue of the afternoon edition of the Daily Globe was 10 cents and "West Side Story" was showing at the State Theatre in Worthington.

It was the second week of March, 1963 and the just over four-year-old Worthington High School gymnasium was going to be jam-packed on four consecutive nights of high school basketball action as the District 8 semifinals, District 7 semifinals, District 7 championship game and District 8 title tilt took places on the evenings of March 5-8.

"Those were four nights in a row of some great basketball games in a terrific atmosphere," recalled Heron Lake's Don Steen, who often earned the highest area score on the annual basketball officials test in the 1960s. "We were packed in like sardines each night and every game had its share of excitement."

After six sub-district games were played in both districts, each of the 14-team fields were narrowed down to eight for the quarterfinals.

Three weeks ago, in the February 28 issue, the "Blast-From-the-Past" highlighted those 12 sub-district contests, which eliminated six teams in each district and advanced Sioux Valley and Okabena (District 7), along with Chandler and Pipestone (District 8) to join the top six-seeded teams for the quarterfinals.

Eight days ago (March 12), the "Blast" described some of the details of those eight quarterfinals, which ended the 1963 seasons for eight more teams over March's opening weekend 50 years ago.

There were 28 teams when the two tournaments started on Feb. 25. Two weeks later, there were eight survivors --- four in each district, squaring off in the semifinals.

First came the District 8 semifinals on Tuesday, pitting Rock County rivals Hills against Luverne in a classic small school vs big school matchup, which would continue as a tournament tradition over the next two decades, followed by the clash between Slayton and crowd-drawing Edgerton, which - like the New York Yankees - helped boost fan attendance.

After finishing as district runner-up - to Jasper - in 1959, Edgerton rolled to back-to-back up titles in '60 and '61. The Flying Dutchmen soared to Region 2 championships both of those seasons and became lasting legends with their undefeated state crown in 1960.

Edgerton did well again in 1962, advancing to the District 8 semifinals before being ousted by eventual champion Pipestone.

The Dutchmen were the area's only undefeated team in '63 and had advanced to their fifth consecutive semifinals berth with a 34-point victory over Tri-County Conference rival Magnolia in the quarterfinals.

As expected, fans packed the Worthington gym for the two District 8 semifinal games.

The following headline ran across the Daily Sports' page on Wednesday, March 6, 1963:

4,000 Fans Watch Luverne, Edgerton Advance to Finals

Here was Corky Brace's lead:

"More than 4,000 excited basketball fans in the Worthington gym Tuesday saw the battle lines drawn for the championship game between Luverne, the winner over Hills, and Edgerton, which eliminated Slayton's Wildcats in the semifinal contests.

Yes, the '63 District title would be a repeat of the 1961 classic - won by Edgerton.

The game was also a rematch of the '63 regular season-finale - at Luverne - between the powers, which was won this time by Edgerton. Luverne had won the game two years earlier.

Brace's semifinals' story continued:

"Luverne completely dominated the first game of the night. The Cardinals took an early lead and were never threatened in the 66-42 contest.

"Edgerton had to wait for two periods before they were able to blast Slayton out of the tourney with a 65-48 show."

Brace called Edgerton's effort "orbital" and referenced that the Cardinals chased the Bluejays "back to the Hills" in the opener.

Luverne's defense, which Brace said was "tighter than the Berlin Wall," held Hills' sharpshooter Terry Arends to 16 points - after scoring 48 in the Bluejays' quarterfinal victory over Pipestone.

Arends did not score until the 3:33 mark of the second quarter.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals scored the game's first 22 points - 14 by senior Loren Wenzel - and posted quarter leads of 24-3, 38-16 and 51-28.

Wenzel finished with 30 points, while junior Bill Toms added 14.

In the second game, Brace praised the shooting performance of Edgerton junior Vernon "Tonto" Schoolmeester.

Here's how the Globe sports editor described the action:

"Edgerton's famed Flying Dutchmen blasted off in flight toward the final game of the District 8 tournament.

"Vernon (Tonto) Schoolmeester was the chief pilot on the flight and some of his shots were so long that even the space age seemed to grow smaller in comparison."

Slayton, paced by Mike Kelly and Bruce Fried, stayed close in the first half - winning the second quarter by a 15-10 margin and trailing by a single point, 31-30, at intermission.

But, Schoolmeester, who finished the game with 32 points, really got "hot" in the third quarter.

Here's how Brace described it:

"The playmaking guard barely wiggled the net with three 40-footers at the very start of the second half before Slayton was able to counter with a single free throw.

"Schoolmeester still wasn't ready to come down to earth, and his teammates followed his lead. Before the period was over, Edgerton had scored 22 points to only eight for Slayton and the pilot of the crew had swished 14 of the tallies."

Kelly, who had scored 33 points in Slayton's overtime win over Worthington in the quarterfinals, fouled out with 12 points at the 4:45 mark of the third quarter.

Bernie Stoel and Bob Westenberg each scored eight points for Edgerton, while Fried finished with 11 for the Wildcats, who trailed 53-38 as the last quarter started.

Windom, Jackson get wins in District 7 semifinal games

The next night (Wednesday), Windom utilized a strong fourth quarter to defeat rival Mountain Lake (74-59) and Jackson capitalized on an impressive second quarter to claim a 68-58 victory over Westbrook in the District 7 semifinal games.

The twin wins by the Southwest Conference leaders set up a repeat of the '62 title game, won by Windom.

The '63 Eagles improved to 18-2 as Jim Silliman poured in 25 points and Windom broke open a tight game with a 12-4 run over the first four minutes of the fourth quarter.

The Eagles had leads of 20-15, 41-31 and 55-51 at the breaks, but owned a 67-55 advantage with four minutes left.

Dave Palm (17), Rich Elness (15) and Daryle Hanson (10) also scored in double figures for Windom, while Harvey Ratzloff tallied 20 points for the Lakers. Lowell Steinle and Dean Franz netted 11 and 10 points, respectively, for Mountain Lake, which closed the gap with a 20-point third quarter.

Jackson held a two-point lead (14-12) after one quarter, but outscored the Wildcats by a 21-7 margin in the second period to open up a 35-19 halftime advantage. A high-scoring third quarter left the Bluejays with a 57-39 edge, but Westbrook rallied with a 19-point fourth stanza and came within 10 by game's end.

Kent Borchard (19) and Dennis Hummel (17) topped Jackson's list of eight scorers, while Dennis Hale (nine), Duane Tow (eight) and Bill Drahota (seven) combined for 24 more.

Jim Glasshoff (20), Ron Bakken (15) and Rod Nelsen (12) notched double figures for the Wildcats, who won the tournament in 1959.

Fans needed to arrive early

In the preview of Thursday's championship clash between Jackson and Windom, Brace indicated that "tickets will be available at the door for as long as they last."

According to all reports, they didn't last long.

The place was packed to capacity early - before the teams even arrived.

I wrote a "Blast" about this game eight years ago in March of 2005, so I am not going to dwell on much of the action here. But the game was a classic.

Windom took a 7-6 lead on a basket by Hanson at the 4:42 mark of the first quarter and later owned a 12-point advantage with 2:38 to play in the second quarter.

But, the Bluejays closed the gap to five (30-25) by halftime and continued to get closer in the third quarter.

Jackson's Kent Borchard, an exceptional all-around athlete who later pitched at Stanford, tied the score at 34-all with a basket midway through the third.

Windom, however, finished on an 8-4 surge and had a 42-38 edge as the last quarter began.

Back-to-back baskets by Borchard tied the score at 46-46, but a three-point play by Palm lifted the Eagles.

With 1:25 remaining, Hale - a sophomore, who later was a starting defensive back for the Minnesota Gophers - took a pass from Borchard and sank a 10-foot "net burner" from the corner, which tied the score at 51-51.

Neither team scored the rest of regulation and the Bluejays managed to outscore the Eagles five to four in the overtime, winning the title by a 56-55 final.

Borchard netted 30 points in a remarkable performance, which also included several stellar passes, to lead the Bluejays. Hale (eight), Tow (six), Drahota (six) and Hummel (six) combined for Jackson's remaining 26 points.

Palm finished with 18 to lead Windom, while Hanson (12), Silliman (11), Elness (seven), Mike Ratzloff (five) and Mike Higley (two) completed the scoring for the Eagles, who finished 18-3 and were ranked as high as third in the state during a very successful season.

Edgerton wins District 8 title for third time in four years

The fourth night was Friday, March 8.

The highly-anticipated Luverne vs. Edgerton matchup was the focus.

Over and over, Brace had mentioned the calmness and poise of Edgerton, which had certainly proved tournament worthy over its past five District 8 runs.

Luverne was a perennial power, too, and the Cardinals were a year away from a run to the 1964 state championship.

But on this night - after Luverne scored the first eight points - the Dutchmen prevailed.

I have been researching the "story" of that 1963 Edgerton team - the last of four coached by Richie Olson.

Next week, the "Blast" looks back at that memorable season, including the details of another well-balanced victory for EHS, - its 21st straight without a loss - and a third District 8 championship in a four-year span.