The Omaha World Herald article traces the great individuals and All-state teams that played on the hardwoods across the state.
The storied past of Nebraska High School Boys basketball is the focus of the World-Herald article. Featuring some of the all time great players and All-State teams it highlights the greats who have graced the hardwoods.
Class of 1949
The Brady Eagles flew high with Dean Brittenham on the team. An all-state end, he led Brady to the six-man state title and a runner-up finish at the state basketball tournament where he was named to the all-class state tournament team. In track, he won the state pentathlon championship twice and helped Brady win the Class D state title. He won gold medals in the 120-yard high hurdles, the discus and the high jump. He lettered in track at the University of Nebraska then went on to be the head cross country and track coach at the University of Colorado. He also served as a strength and conditioning coach for the Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots and Indiana Pacers and was a consultant for many other teams and organizations.
Athlete. Class of 1963.
She began an illustrious track and field career long before girls’ athletic programs were accepted by the general public and/or sponsored by high schools. She was second in the shotput in the National Junior Olympics as a high school junior. She won four National Senior AAU Titles in the discus and the 1968 gold medal at the Pan Am Games in Winnipeg and was member of the 1968 U.S. Olympic Games teams. “Winning the Pan Am gold was obviously a highlight, she said. “It’s hard not to say that competing in the Olympics wasn’t the best moment, but unfortunately the rains came that day and I didn’t throw my best.”
Later, Carol was a teacher and coach, including serving as an assistant coach in high school football.
Coach–Success as a coach in at least three different sports and at different high schools throughout a career from 1934-1972 shows the versatility of this fine coach. Prior to World War II, Maurice “Skip” Palrang helped develop the basketball skills of the Creighton Prep Blue jays in Omaha, leading them to winning state tournaments in Class A and top ranking in 1935 and 1940. After the war, Skip shifted west to coach the Boys Town High School in Douglas County. His success as a basketball coach, winning state in 1953 and 1956, was but one aspect of this great coach. The Boys Town Cowboys under his guidance also became a powerful football power, traveled the country and took on all comers, usually winning. Palrang teams played in 21 states and the District of Columbia, sometimes drawing crowds as large as 40,000. In 1939 this talented gentleman as a baseball coach brought a rare national American Legion championship to Nebraska while coaching the Omaha McDivitts.
Besides being a great coach, known for his compassion almost as much as his intensity on the sports fields, Palrang was a top-flight classroom instructor. He taught chemistry, Spanish, English and math. He held a bachelor’s degree from Regis College in Denver, Colo., and a master’s degree from Creighton University in Omaha. His awards included 1949 Coach of the Year, Pop Warner Foundation, 1965 Nebraska Coach of the Year, Omaha World-Herald; and 1967 Rockne Club citation. He was head coach of the victorious South team in Nebraska’s inaugural Shrine Bowl in 1959.
Palrang died Feb. 8, 1978 at the age of 71. His picture and records still grace the walls of the Field House named in his honor in Boys Town, Nebraska.
Coach. Wes’s basketball record with a career span of 48 years: 519 wins and 168 losses. This includes one state championship and ten district titles plus numerous conference titles. The administrator-coach also coached football, track, baseball and volleyball at the junior through college level during his career. His Nebraska basketball teams reached the state tournament four times: Weston in 1956, Elmwood in 1985 and Lincoln Christian in 1991 and 1993, winning it in 1991. Other career high lights include coaching a college All Star team in Europe, coaching a professional team in China in 1982, Assistant Coach on the Nebraska Coaches All Star Team in 1991 and coaching one of Valentino’s All Star teams in 1991. Though officially retired from teaching, Wes still serves as activity bus driver, substitute teacher and FCA sponsor. He plans to continue coaching and working with young people. He runs summer camps for children in kindergarten and up stressing basketball fundamentals and principled of integrity. Previous honors received by Wes are the Mike Heck memorial award and the Ralph Beechner Coach of the Year Award. Volunteered with the basketball program of the Cornhusker State Games.
Athlete. Bobby was considered by many the finest all-around athlete in Lincoln High history. In football he was mentioned for all-state his junior year and unanimous all-state as a senior. In 1960 as a senior, he led the team in scoring with 29 touchdowns and six extra points to make him the second highest scorer in Lincoln High history. As a sophomore he competed in wrestling where he was all-city champion at 175 pounds. Then he played basketball as a junior and senior. Track was a real forte for him. He was perhaps the fastest prep athlete ever in the state of Nebraska. He was the winner (:09.5) of the first 100-yard dash run in Nebraska where the first four across the finish line were under 10 seconds at the Hastings Invitational in 1961. His time moved him into a tie for the fastest time in the nation that year. Bobby was the first Nebraskan to break the 24-foot barrier in the long jump and is still high on the all-time chart in that event. He went on to play football at University of Central Oklahoma as a four-year starter at halfback. Totaling his rushing and kickoff return yards, he amassed a career total of 3,094 all-purpose yards. He was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1966 and after two years he went to the Detroit Lions for four years. He led the NFL in kickoff-returns in 1969.