Rasche was last of Spuds, won title with CatsJune 5, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
Ken Rasche didn’t start on varsity his freshman year at Ireland, but he sure earned his way there and helped make an impact.
The 1971 Jasper graduate began things on junior varsity, but he thought Dave Lueking, the coach of the Spuds in 1967-68, saw a lot in him, and he finished the season on varsity.
“I could see the whole floor,” Rasche said. “I could anticipate kind of like a Larry Bird where you see stuff happen in front of you and that type of stuff. I did that very well.”
Rasche appreciated how fundamental of a coach Lueking was — pushing for perfection — and found him to be somebody he greatly admires. He played ball with another person he looks up to — his older brother, Bill, a 1969 Ireland graduate, whom he still calls the nicest guy he’s ever met to this day.
“I enjoyed it,” Ken said. “He just worked his butt off. He was a hard worker.”
Ken showed what he could be capable of as he scored 11 points in the 1968 sectional against Birdseye in a 73-45 win. He was one of four Spuds in double figures that evening. Brother Bill had 13 that night, though the Rasche brothers and the rest of Ireland fell in the semifinals, 59-44.
A big problem for Ken was that he got into injury troubles that derailed what could’ve been a more prolific career.
“I broke an ankle, and actually at that time, the technology wasn’t that good, and to this day, I think I tore my ACL at that time,” he said. “Of course, I went in and got X-rays. The ankle didn’t show up as broken, and so the whole year, for me, I was struggling and I sprained my ankle consistently. I just never was what I was my freshman year.”
He later learned his ankle was broken, denying at first when doctors told him it was broken before. Ireland made a change in coaching when Ken was a sophomore. Bob Easterday took over the reins of the head coaching spot.
Ken found a stark contrast between the two coaches. However, the Spuds improved record-wise all three years Ken played there. He wasn’t a main source of points, such honors belonged to Steve Keusch, who averaged 12 points per game in the 1969-70 regular season, and Jim Seitz, who was right behind him with 11.9. However, Ken did serve as a role player who could give production when need be, heading into the sectional with an average of 7.5 points per game. The Spuds went 10-1 in the regular season.
He did not play in the sectional against Perry Central due to a broken leg. The Commodores prevailed, 52-46. That turned out to be the last game in Spuds history as Ireland and Jasper consolidated.
“A lot of the people at Ireland were not happy with the consolidation,” Ken said. “When you lose your school, you lose your identity. It’s gotten better now with where the Ireland school feeds right into Jasper.”
He came off the bench his senior year, but still worked hard every day, and his new teammates treated him well. The Wildcats were in a sectional drought entering Ken’s senior year, not having won it since 1962. They went 17-3 the year before in the regular season, but fell short of reaching the championship game. Jasper broke through in 1971, though, winning its first of five consecutive sectional championships, with Ken being a part of it.
“There was a lot of partying,” he said. There was a lot of happy people. After that point, it kind of turned that system around for the next seven or eight years.”
Jasper roared in its first regional game with a 103-42 win against Linton, and Ken notched six points in a game where seven players got into double figures. However, in what was considered an upset, future Southridge coach Gary Duncan led Salem to a 76-73 win against the Wildcats, bouncing them from the tournament.
He did not go to school afterwards, working multiple jobs before becoming a mail carrier in 1984 and working until 2018. Ken stays busy. He loves to travel, and has seven grandchildren.
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