EDITOR’S NOTE: On Feb. 27, 1971, the Worthington State Junior College men’s basketball team won the second of three straight MJCAA state championships, beating Golden Valley Lutheran by a 100-81 score. Spring sports are canceled, so The Globe is reprinting selected articles from great sports moments of the past. Today’s story (condensed) celebrates the Bluejays’ 1971 title game.
BY BILL BROWER
For the second straight year the Worthington State Junior College Bluejays are the MJCAA state champions in basketball. The Jays kept the title in Worthington as they walloped Golden Valley Lutheran Saturday night, 100-81.
For the second time in two years the Bluejays’ march to the state title was a rough one. Tied for the Southern Division lead with Willmar, the Jays first had to dispose of the tough Warriors. This they accomplished on Feb. 23 as they won 79-72. The Bluejays’ first win in the state tournament was over Vermilion State on Friday night by the score of 93-72. The stage was then set for the big meeting with Golden Valley, the No. 14 ranked junior college in the nation. Many fans, and players, were still thinking of the last meeting of the two schools on Jan. 16, a game in which Golden Valley defeated Worthington State 83-80.
The Golden Valley cheering section was much in evidence Saturday night both in numbers and noise. The large bass drum and cymbals the Golden Valley fans brought along rang loudly as their big man, Bob Hullinger took the opening tip-off and drove all the way in for the first two points of the game and a quick lead of 2-0.
Bruce Leu countered for the Bluejays with a free throw to put Worthington on the board but two, long, 30-foot jumpers, by Darrell Goring and Jim Field, sent the Golden Valley cheering section into a frenzy and gave them a 6-1 lead with the game only two minutes old.
The two teams exchanged baskets in the next few minutes before Bruce Leu hit on a three-point play to give Worthington State its first lead, 13-12, with 15:02 left in the first half. It was to be the last time Golden Valley would be that close as Worthington State held the lead for the remainder of the contest.
With just 2:19 left in the initial half, Golden Valley trailed by just three at 37-34, but four quick field goals by Denny Voss, an all-tournament team selection, in the next few minutes helped the Jays to a 47-41 lead at the intermission.
Two Bluejay reserves, Vic Heyden, 6-1 freshman from West Lyon, Iowa, and Gene Martens, 5-10 freshman from Sibley, Iowa, saw extensive action in the first half and both came through with superb performances. Both scored a couple of crucial baskets and both were outstanding on defense, especially Martens. The 5-10 hustler caused numerous turnovers by Golden Valley and had several fine assists.
The big scoring gun for the Bluejays was the ever-improving Bruce Leu. The sophomore from Sibley held the Jays in there as he hit for 18 big points in the first half besides being tough on the boards. It was a fine tournament for Bruce and he was rewarded for his efforts by being named to the all-tournament team along with Voss. …
The Bluejays once again had beautifully balanced scoring with four men in double figures. Denny Voss with 25 and Bruce Leu with 23 led the state champs. Mike Fury and Rick Kiesow chipped in with 17 and 16 respectively. Voss led the team with 14 rebounds.
Worthington State now advances on to Region 13 play as they make a bid for the national finals. The regional tournament will be played at Normandale Junior College on March 8-9.