Basketball – 2001: First State Champs in Modern Era of the Sport

Lincoln East Spartans, 1977 Class A Girls Basketball State Championship Team:

York, 1976-77 Class B Girls Basketball State Championship Team:

Hastings St. Cecilia, 1976-77 Class C Girls Basketball State Championship Team:

Hastings Tribune, Oct/2001

By Chris Cottam

Twenty-five years ago this year, a group of girls from St. Cecilia made history.

They were the school’s first girls basketball team, they played in the first state tournament that same year and won the coveted title of state Class C champs. Their remarkable performance in the infancy of the girls basketball program made them celebrities of sorts. Recently, the team was inducted into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame. Many of the team members attended the banquet.

The Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame in Lincoln gives recognition to athletes, coaches and teams for outstanding achievements through the years.

Among those who attended were Bonnie (Pohlmeier) Englehardt of Kenesaw and Nancy (Kindig) Malone of Geneva. Englehardt said she was honored to be counted among an elite group of athletes. “What an honor to be a member with everyone else who were legends of their own time,” she said.

Malone is excited that she was part of the ground floor of girls basketball. “We’re now the people our daughters can look at and be proud of for paving the way for them,” Malone said. “That was our part in history.”

Englehardt recalled how the team was known for its coach, Jim Nemetz, the current STC athletic director. “He always had a Lifesaver lollipop stick in his mouth. I think it ‘saved’ him his sanity his first year of coaching girls,” she said jokingly.

Maybe it wasn’t that bad. “They played like boys,” Nemetz said. “Most of the girls played with their brothers in the garage. It made them better athletes. We had a lot of talent. We did a lot of running and could be physical.

Malone remembers Nemetz telling them in 1976, “You will win the state championship.” “From the beginning, we knew we would win,” Malone said. And win they did. The team went on a streak, going 66-0 the first three years. They dominated most games.

“We didn’t score under 60 points a game,” Malone said. Malone attributes the team’s winning streak to great coaching and great parents. “We couldn’t have done it without parental support. We’re really grateful for that,” Malone said.

Members of the team included: Diane Gleason, Robin Bourg, Carla Schutte, Anne Beiriger, Patty Cronstrom, Linda Mertens, Linda DeLaet, Nancy Kindig, Patty Gleason, Bonnie Pohlmier, Monica Sherman, Patty DeLaet, Marcia Schutte, Michelle Oldham, Sandi Beyke, Caroline Theis, Julie Parr, Carol Quinn, Monique Stout, Leanne Juranek, Diane Jarzynka, Michelle Klein and Julie Farmer. Dee Consbruck was the student manager.

Shickley, 1976-77 Class D Girls Basketball State Championship Team:

Basketball – 1999: Omaha Central, 1974 and 1975

Omaha Central, one of the state’s first high schools and a grand institution all these years, won its first basketball state championship in 1912, the second year of the state tournament.

The Eagles, who’ve played good basketball year in and year out, qualified for state a lot. But 62 years went past before another state title trophy found its way to Central’s hallways.

Credit in this Silver Anniversary award goes to a determined group of athletes, several of whom played in grade school and junior high together and stayed together in high school.

The 1974 team ended the title drought, finishing a 22-3 year by defeating Lincoln East in the Class A championship game, 57-49. Before anyone hardly had time to figure 62 years down the road to see when Central might win again, the 1975 team posted a 24-1 record and made it two in a row with a state title win over Omaha Creighton Prep, the only team to beat the Eagles that year.

Consecutive state championships….. 66 wins and just four losses in two seasons….The widest margin of victory in the Metro Conference (20.6, 1974-75), a record which still stands…..All-state honors for John C. Johnson and Clayton Bullard, coach of the year honors for Coach Jim Martin.

Johnson was a high scorer both years. Sylvester Pierce averaged in double figures both years. Bullard’s game advanced in his senior year to the point where he was ready for a career at Colorado in college. Michael Ashford was the 1974 scoring leader. Charles Lewis also was a double figure scorer in 1974. Many of the players on the two teams saw action most every game.

One additional spot where they “own” a piece of high school history: Their 1975 championship game was the last game played in the Nebraska Coliseum. The Devaney Center opened for the 1976 tournament.


Omaha Central Basketball:
1974 – 22-3
1975 – 24-1

Michael Ashford, 1974
Thommie Allen 1974
Albert Briggs 1975
Kevin Buckner 1974
Clayton Bullard 1974-1975
Greg Bullard 1974
James Dorsey 1974
John C. Johnson 1974-1975
Phil Jefferson 1975
James M. Kriss 1974
Charles Lewis 1974
Henry A. Moore 1975
Rodney Oliver 1975
Sylvester Pierce-Tally 1974-1975
Mitchell Pinkard 1975
Raymond Williams 1974-1975
Lawrence V. Wilson 1975
Steve Watson 1975

Head Coach

James Martin

Assistant Coaches

Paul Pennington
Stan Standifer

Athletic Director

Don Benning

Basketball – 1997: Fairbury, 1973

Roster:

Greg Rosener
Bob Kujath
Mark Hansen
Mark Bangert
Greg Gibson
Dell Schmidt
John Krause
Russ Vanous
Bob Parks
Bob Siegel
Roger Stewart
Kim Kujath

Greg Hansmire, Student Manager
Ken Milius, Student Manager

Coaches

Charlie Moore, Head Coach
Don Mahlman, Assistant Coach

The team ended the ’73 season with a record of 25-2 and a Class B State Championship. Fairbury’s two losses came at the hands of fellow Central Conference member Crete, 66-76 and 78-88. Fairbury avenged these losses with a 72-60 District win. The Jeffs had state tournament wins over Albion 74-52, Lincoln Pius X 52-47, and Sidney 60-54.

Basketball – 1996: Columbus Discovers, 1971-72

Do you know how many teams not from Omaha or Lincoln have won the state’s big school basketball championship in the last 40 high school seasons (written in 1996)?

Three: Fremont in 1961, Columbus in 1972 and Norfolk in 1987. And Silver Anniversary team winner, the ’72 Columbus bunch, won its title at the Nebraska Coliseum with a 71-67 conquest of defending champion Lincoln East.

Coach Jack Johnson’s team, a regular basketball contender in this era, flashed its talent and balance by almost making a rout of the championship game, getting a 20-point lead into the fourth quarter. Then, typical of what happens in the state tournament, they had to dig down and show some grit to survive a rally by East to pluck the championship.

The Discoverers won 19 of 23 games, were Class A’s high scoring team that year and a well deserving state champion.

Roster from the 1972 State Tournament Program:

Frank Brower
Roger Brown
Larry Cattau
Les Cattau
Vernon Davis
Keith Davy
Tom Heiser
Rick Joseph
Dan Lannan
Dan Miller
Paul Potter
Scott Troffiolz
Jon Wagner
Mike Wagner
Coach: Jack Johnson
Assistants: Dennis Van Fossen
Richard Babst

Scorer: Don Holscher
Student Manager: Bruce Friedrichsen
Student Manager: Neil Dankert

Basketball – 1995: 1971 Lincoln East Spartans

There were Nebraska high school teams more heavily favored to be a state champion in their sport than Lincoln East’s 1970-71 boys basketball team. The Spartans weren’ t necessarily big by basketball standards. They had a scrap on their hands just to get out of districts.

What sets the Hall of Fame’s Silver Anniversary Team winner off from the others that year was how they won their state championship. They had the best won-lost record in Class A, 19-2, and they had a great state tournament, a thrilling run to the 1971 state championship in a era filled with great basketball players and teams.

East’s exciting three days began with a 76-69 win over Alliance. Next was Hastings by 84-83 and that one could have gone either way. And the 74-72 title win over Papillion came on a last-second shot by Scott Copple on an out-of-bounds play regarded one of the most thrilling windup of any boys basketball state tournament game. Ever.


1971 Lincoln East Spartans:

10 Jack Ball 5-10 Jr.
42 Tom Bothwell 6-0 So.
24 Bryce Carlson 6-0 Jr.
40 Scott Copple 6-2 Jr.
52 Reg Gast 6-2 So.
20 Steve Joekel 12 Sr.
30 Rob Ogden 6-0 Sr.
22 Kent Reckewey 6-1 Sr.
44 Rick Samuelson 6-3 So.
14 Chris Siefkes 5-11 Jr.
32 Gene Smith 6-0 Jr.
34 Kurt Stacey 6-0 So.
Student Manager-Joe Bryant

Head Coach-Paul Forch

Assistants-Ken Rippe, Rudy Stoehr, Ed McPherren