This is the 50th anniversary of some large events in Marshall, MN. The city was chosen as the site for the new state college in southwest Minnesota in 1963. Southwest Minnesota State would open a few years later.

And it was also the year when the Marshall Tigers won the state basketball title, then the No. 1 high school sporting event in Minnesota by a landslide.

There was no need to attach "boys'' to the title, since Title IX and competition for girls was still a decade in the future. There was no need to offer a "class'' addendum to the title, since the basketball tournament was competed in one class for the roughly 500 public high schools in the state.

It was a one class tournament from the inception in 1913 through 1970. The last decade was a bonanza for my home area in the southwest corner of the state. Edgerton was the tiny-burgh champion in 1960, Marshall in 1963 and Luverne in 1964. We also staked a claim to Sherburn as the last one-class champion in 1970, even though that small town was more south central than southwest.

On Friday night, the Marshall champions will be honored at halftime of the Tigers' game against Windom, a long-time rival in the Southwest Conference.

What Marshall will be celebrating more than anything is what many state tourney fans _ me included _ consider to be the best-played, most-exciting final ever. The Tigers upset Cloquet 75-74 in what came down to a shootout among Terry Porter and Loren (Whitey) Johnson for Marshall, and Mike Forrest and Dave (Mouse) Meisner for Cloquet.

The foursome combined for 36 baskets ... mostly jump shots. There was no 3-point line, or both teams would've been in the '80s.

Ten years ago, I did a column on the 40th anniversary of that game and reprinted Ted Peterson's lead from the next day's Minneapolis Sunday Tribune:

"Marshall's youthful, energy-packed Tigers won the first state championship in their school's history Saturday by edging Cloquet's peppery Lumberjacks 75-74 in Williams Arena in as exciting a finals clash as the 51-year-old classic has ever experienced.''

I would graduate from high school that spring. In August, I wound up getting hired by Ted as a Tribune copy boy _ primarily to take high school scores, highlights, boxscores and summaries on busy prep nights. In May 1966, my friend Mike Augustin was the St. Cloud Times sports editor and lured me away from the Duluth News-Tribune for the kingly sum of $110 per week to be the other full-timer on his staff.

The St. Cloud State Huskies were one of my beats, and the star basketball players on a great team were Terry Porter and Tom Ditty (from Delano). My joke has been Porter and Ditty were guaranteed great coverage because they were old enough to buy me beer, but I actually turned 21 that October and was legal by the time the 1966-67 season started.

Watching Ditty as an athlete, and Terry Porter come off screens and shoot 25-footers, and Red Severson coach up a storm ... all these decades later, that's as much fun as I've had covering a team.

I also vaguely recall, in the wake of the Huskies' upset loss in the second round of the NAIA tournament, Porter, Ditty and me drowning our sorrows in a bar on the Kansas side of Kansas City and it was far past our traditional closing time of 1 a.m. back in Minnesota.

Porter carried the nickname "The Turk'' from his Marshall days, because he stuck out his rump like a turkey as he fired from long range. Dang, the Turk could shoot it as well as anyone, and maybe he'll fire in a 25-footer at halftime in Marshall on Friday night, just to show the new generations what it was like ... a "whoosh'' of the net more than a swish.

Newer Post

Discovering a more dignified way to eat a Maid-Rite