Who is ‘Best Of All Time’ in Dubois County?

By HERALD STAFF
sports@dcherald.com

Just because gyms are closed and games have been canceled doesn’t mean that we still can’t have some fun with local sports.

Last week, we asked readers to nominate who they thought was the best high school boys basketball team in Dubois County history. After hundreds of nominations were made, the 16 teams that received the most nominations were paired up into a bracket.

Beginning today, readers can vote weekly for who they think should move on in each matchup.

To see the bracket and vote online each week, go to the contest website at: DuboisCountyHerald.com/BestOfAllTime.

For those who would rather vote through paper ballot, complete the bracket in today's Herald (March 30) and mail it to The Herald at P.O. Box 31, Jasper, IN, 47547-0031. Fill out the bracket in its entirety and don’t forget to include your name and address on the bracket.

Each Monday in The Herald, we’ll announce the teams that have advanced along with historic stories and photos for you to enjoy.

Now, it’s time to vote!   

 

1. Northeast Dubois (1977)

Dubois played 49 years in the sectional tournament without ever winning a championship. The Jeeps only made it to the title game once — an 86-65 loss against Jasper in 1971.

But you know what they say — the 50th time is a charm.

The Jeeps went 15-4 in the 1976-77 regular season, finishing on a five-game win streak. Leading scorer Mike Archer, who averaged 18.6 points per game, missed the tail-end of the regular season after fracturing his left arm in a game that season. The Jeeps carried on, though, with the help of Leon Wehr, who averaged 12.4 points, and Steve Sander, who averaged 11.2 points. 

Archer was cleared to return two days before the sectional tournament. Archer proceeded to score 43 points in two games. He totaled 25 points in the championship as the Jeeps knocked off Jasper, 60-55, in overtime.

They didn’t stop there. The Jeeps won the regional championship, first avenging a 61-56 loss to Crawford County from the month before, 42-37, then besting Washington, 64-61, in the title game. Wehr’s bucket in the final seconds against Evansville Central gave Dubois a 66-64 win in the semistate opener. Northeast Dubois would fall one game shy of going to state, losing, 71-57, to Terre Haute South.

 

2. Ireland (1963)

When one thinks of a score like 20-19, they might think football — Super Bowl XXV, for instance. Such a score isn’t conventional at all in basketball.

That was exactly the case, though, when Ireland met Springs Valley March 2, 1963, in the sectional championship game. The Spuds went 15-3 in the regular season, the best record of any team in their sectional that season, but points were scarce for them and the Blackhawks.

Springs Valley first grabbed the lead, 9-8, in the game, and that was the halftime score. The two traded leads before being tied at 16. Ireland’s Joe Lents scored only four points that game, but those points were clutch. His basket broke the tie, and two subsequent free throws sufficed to give the Spuds their first sectional title, 20-19.

They faced Washington in the regional championship the next week. Dave Small’s free throws tied the game at 37. The Hatchets had a chance to win the game, but turned the ball over on an offensive foul. Small got a shot off. It didn’t go, but Pat Schitter got the putback one second before the buzzer sounded, and Ireland was regional champs, 39-37.

However, defending state champion Evansville Bosse proved to be too much in the semistate, downing the Spuds, 61-36.

 

3. Southridge (1986)

Southridge won regional and semistate championships for the first time ever in the 1984-85 season, and it was up to the Raiders to try to get back to state once the 1985-86 campaign rolled around.

The Raiders went 18-4 during the regular season, losing back-to-back games just once. They established themselves as a sectional dynasty, winning five times in seven years heading into the 1986 sectional tournament.

A return to state almost never was as Southridge had to fight off Jasper to win another sectional championship, 55-53. To get a sense of how close this was, Southridge’s 54-51 advantage in the fourth quarter was the only time the Raiders led by three. Todd Jochem gave Southridge the lead for good, 52-51 after Ted O’Bryan missed a basket. Ron Steinhart, and twin brothers Ron and Rick Patberg each earned First-Team All-Sectional. 

The Raiders bested Springs Valley and Loogootee to win the regional championship. They downed Floyd Central and Evansville Memorial to return to state. Southridge met Marion in the Final Four in 1985, but the Giants topped the Raiders by 23. They got a second chance against Marion, but the Giants reigned supreme in a closer game, 63-54, and bested Anderson to repeat that night.

Southridge ended up with a 24-5 record, one better than the previous year.

 

4. Northeast Dubois (2020)

Northeast Dubois coach Terry Friedman went into his 14th season with optimism about the 2019-20 Jeeps.

It turns out, he did so with good reason.

Friedman went into the year with 152 wins and four sectional championships under his belt, but he saw history this season. The Jeeps began the year 4-0, the first time they’d ever done that with Friedman at the helm, and looked to be on their way to improving upon the 10-14 record from the year before.

This year wasn’t without its bumpy rides, though. The Jeeps lost three out of four from Dec. 21 through Dec. 28. Northeast Dubois lost five games in a row from Jan. 31 through Feb. 11, after winning the previous five before that.

Bad times did not last for the Jeeps, however. They won two out of their final three regular season games, and they came together at the right time. Their 55-51 win March 7 against Evansville Day won them their first sectional championship since 2014.

It was also a banner year for senior Reece Bauer, who accomplished multiple things this past season. One of those accomplishments was surpassing Dustin Wolf Jan. 31 at Jasper to become the Northeast Dubois all-time leading boys scorer.

 

5. Forest Park (2018)

Collin Hochgesang asked how Forest Park was still alive in the tournament after the Rangers won the 2018 sectional opener Feb. 28.

Little could he have known what was coming next.

The Rangers enjoyed a 19-4 regular season. South Spencer was 8-15, but records are thrown in sectionals. The Rebels had the Rangers on the ropes, leading by six with less than two minutes to play.

Forest Park rallied, and Hochgesang put up a shot at the buzzer, and it was good. His Ranger teammates mobbed him after he gave them a 50-49 win.

The Rangers met North Posey two games later in the March 3 sectional title game. Forest Park held the lead the most of the way, but its largest lead was seven. The Vikings tied it with less than 10 seconds to go in regulation.

Then a sequel to Hochgesang’s miracle happened.

Noah Fleck missed part of the season due to a foot injury he suffered in football, but his 3-pointer at the buzzer lifted the Rangers to a 47-44 sectional title win.0

Forest Park won a regional championship March 10, and a semistate championship March 17, but the magical run came to an end March 24 against Oak Hill in a 56-44 loss in the state championship game. Hochgesang was awarded the Mental Attitude Award.

 

6. Forest Park (2006)

How would Forest Park follow up from a Class 2A state championship from the year before when it entered the 2005-06 season?

How about another one for good measure?

The Rangers started the season 6-3. They didn’t lose to an opponent by more than six points in those three losses, but they got all their losing out of the way by Dec. 30 after they suffered a 73-67 defeat at the hands of Anderson.

Forest Park had six seniors that year: Tim James, Brandon Hopf, David Welp, Kyle Schroering, Mike Foerster and Jace Hasenour. Four of those seniors scored at least 100 points that year. The six finished their careers with a 23-2 postseason record. Their 23rd win came in a 61-55 rematch against Harding for the Class 2A state crown, finishing 25-3.

The Rangers had some turnovers and trailed, 16-6, at one point, but overcame it. Clint Hopf, Brandon’s cousin, scored 20 points and added 10 rebounds in the game. James earned the Arthur L. Trester Mental Attitude Award, something a Forest Park player could not accomplish in 2003 or 2005.

 

7. Holland (1968)

Holland won its second consecutive sectional championship in 1968.

Having a future NBA All Star on your team helps with things like that.

Don Buse starred for the Dutchmen, and played a crucial role in them winning their final sectional championship.

Holland’s undefeated regular season wasn’t without close calls. A 63-60 overtime win against Ferdinand in the fourth game of the season jeopardized that, as did a 54-53 win in a rematch and a 60-59 game against Tecumseh in the penultimate regular season game.

It came down to the Dutchmen and Crusaders and in the 1968 sectional championship. Holland won, 57-53 on Feb. 24.

Holland squared off against Oolitic March 2 in the first regional game. The Dutchmen and Bearcats were the last two undefeated teams in the state. Holland found itself in a 59-58 deficit with less than a minute to go before Buse’s layup with 24 seconds left retook the lead for good, 60-59. Gerald Hilsmeyer made one of two free throws to bring it to its final score, 61-59.

Buse’s game-high 26 points in the regional final against Jeffersonville did not suffice. The Dutchmen’s 32-22 lead in the second quarter did not last. They ended just short, 72-70, but can say they were the last undefeated team in the state that year.

 

8. Forest Park (2005)

Forest Park’s Tim James told the Herald in the March 27, 2006 edition that the 2004-05 season was supposedly seen as a rebuilding season for the Rangers.

If that year was supposed to be a rebuild, it was a quick one.

The Rangers had been the Class 2A state runners-up two years ago, and lost the opening game of the regional tournament in 2003-04. They lost, 55-53 on Nov. 26 of the 2004-05 opener against Southridge, but it wouldn’t take them long to be off and running.

They had a three-game win streak there, six in a row there, five in a row over there. Forest Park did not lose back-to-back games all season. The Rangers lost to Boonville, 72-60, Feb. 15, but that would be it.

They reeled off a nine-game winning streak after that, making it to the Class 2A state championship game. Forest Park met unranked Harding March 26 at the then-Conseco Fieldhouse. Forest Park trailed most of the way. The Rangers regained the lead in the fourth quarter, and used clutch free throw shooting to hang on. Brandon Hopf scored 27 points and pulled down 16 rebounds in the 68-63 win. That gave Forest Park its first state basketball championship, finishing with a 23-4 record.

 

9. Jasper (1949)

Jasper’s lone state basketball championship in 1949 saw multiple close calls, but all the breaks went the Wildcats’ way that year, becoming the only team from Dubois County to win a state championship prior to the introduction of class basketball.

They just edged out Monroe City, 57-55, to win the regional crown on March 5.

The March 12 semistate championship against Bloomington saw the Wildcats and Panthers tie six times in that game. Bobby Dobson of Bloomington put the Panthers ahead, 49-48, with less than 30 seconds remaining, but Bill Litchfield had Jasper out in front with 16 seconds to go, and the Wildcats held on a 50-49 win.

The Wildcats played in the Final Four March 19 at the Butler Fieldhouse. It was the most recent time Jasper has been to state, after going there in 1934. The Wildcats met Madison in the title game after besting Auburn, 53-48, earlier in the day.

They had the task of trying to slow down Madison’s Dee Monroe, that year’s Mr. Basketball. Monroe scored 36 points. Madison tied the game multiple times, but never led. It was most recently tied, 55-55, when Jerome “Dimp” Stenftenagel’s basket pulled the Wildcats out in front for good. The Wildcats won, 62-61.

 

10. Northeast Dubois (2014)

It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

That’s an old saying, and sometimes old sayings ring true — case in point Northeast Dubois in 2013-14.

Tyler Haas came into the sectional tournament averaging 20.6 points per game. Cameron Riecker averaged 13 points, but all the Jeeps could muster up was a 9-12 regular season record. Starting off 2-8 didn’t look promising, but they won their last three regular season games.

The Jeeps rolled over Cannelton in the sectional, 63-38, March 7, and clinched their second straight sectional crown with a 55-45 win against Tecumseh the next night in the championship. It was a rematch from the year before, and coincidentally, the 2012-13 team was also 9-12 at the end of the regular season.

The next order of business was trying to avenge a 69-51 loss to Lanesville Dec. 27 in the March 15 regional semifinals. It didn’t look promising as the Jeeps trailed by 16 in the first half, and 44-30 with 1:37 to play in the third quarter, but the duo of Haas and Riecker helped sparked a run to lift the Jeeps to a 55-53 victory.

Their season ended that night with a 69-60 loss to top-ranked Barr-Reeve in the championship, but they kept it in single digits after a 64-45 Jan. 4 loss to the Vikings. Haas finished his career with 1,096 points, which was second all time back then. He also finished with 638 rebounds, breaking Leon Wehr’s record of 636. Riecker finished with 764 career points.

 

11. Forest Park (2011)

They say that sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good.

Then there was the 2010-11 Forest Park Rangers, who were both.

They reached No. 1 in Class 2A, and found ways to win. They ended the regular season a perfect 21-0.

North Posey looked to give the Rangers their only loss of the season in the March 5 sectional championship.

It almost worked.

The Vikings started off with leads of 12-0 and 22-8, but the Rangers came back, and the teams traded leads. Nathan Bromm had a game-high 15 points, with his buzzer-beating shot to giving the Rangers the championship, 43-41.

The March 12 regional games were hardly smooth sailing either, but Forest Park found a way. The Rangers bested Covenant Christian, 51-48, in the regional opener, and then Eastern Greene, 49-44, to win a second consecutive regional championship.

However, meeting future NBA players like Yogi Ferrell can turn into a roadblock. That was the case the previous year when Park Tudor eliminated Forest Park, 47-45, in four overtimes, in semistate, and again on March 19, 2011, when the Rangers fell, 57-45.

Ferrell’s 25 points and seven assists handed helped the Panthers gave the Rangers their lone loss, finishing at 25-1. On a team that saw no player average 10 or more points per game heading into semistate, the sum of the Rangers’ whole was greater than their parts.

 

12. Northeast Dubois (1984)

Northeast Dubois fans had to wait a long time until their Jeeps won their first sectional championship in 1977.

The second one was a substantially shorter turnaround, but Jeep fans still had to play the waiting game until 1984 arrived.

Northeast Dubois started 5-0, and finished 12-8, one game under. 500 after the first five games of the season. Mike Steffe led the way as one of seven seniors. Steffe averaged 14.3 points per game, while Daron Cave, one of three juniors, averaged 10.3 points.

The Jeeps had some work to do in their first sectional game against Forest Park, but a 61-55 overtime against the Rangers put them in the title game. Overtime wasn’t necessary when they bested Southridge, 49-36, for their first sectional championship in seven years.

Northeast Dubois met Loogootee for the regional championship after besting Bedford North Lawrence, 61-50, earlier in the day. The Jeeps came through in the clutch by going 13 of 14 at the free throw line in the fourth quarter. Loogootee tied it, 40-40, with 22 seconds to go, but a bucket by Bruce Terwiske and two free throws from Steffe sealed it.

The Jeeps ended their season at 16-9 after a semifinals loss to semistate champion Vincennes, 56-44. 

 

13. Southridge (1985)

Southridge’s 1985 team didn’t just make school history, they made state history.

The Raiders that year won the first regional and semistate championships since Huntingburg and Holland consolidated into Southridge in 1972; and they got to state without a single senior, becoming the first team in Indiana history to make the Final Four without losing anybody to graduation.

Southridge ran into a close call against Perry Central, surviving the Commodores, 51-47, in the sectional tournament. The Raiders advanced to the championship, besting Forest Park on their home floor. It was their sixth sectional championship since winning their first in the 1975-76 season.

The regional, though, had been a different story. Southridge entered 1985 not having won a game in the regional tournament since 1979, despite subsequent championships in 1980, 1982 and 1983. The Raiders broke through, capturing a regional title with a 51-48 win against North Harrison on March 9. Their 72-54 victory against L&M in the semistate championship made them the first team from Dubois County to make it to state since the 1949 Jasper team that won it all.

Southridge could not replicate that feat, however, losing to eventual state-champion Marion in the semifinals. The Raiders finished 23-5, their best record ever at the time.

 

14. Forest Park (1993)

Forest Park roared through the 1992-93 regular season at 18-2, winning its last 13 games of the regular season.

A first round game March 2 against Jasper nearly ended that. The Rangers led the Wildcats, 54-43, after three quarters, then 61-43. Little did they know the Wildcats would fire off 15 3-pointers, 10 from Scott Rolen, who finished with 47 points.

It took a Herculean performance from Bob Boehman, who went 19-of-20 at the free throw line, scoring 31 points total, to lift Forest Park to an 85-80 win.

The Rangers held off the Jeeps in the semifinals with a 53-46 win. They staved off a Jeeps team that ended their season at 17-5 and defeated Forest Park in the regular season.

Forest Park held tight for a 46-40 win against Pike Central, giving the Rangers their second sectional championship. The Rangers trailed the Chargers, 22-20, at halftime, but overcame. Boehman was the MVP of the tournament, averaging 19.6 points during the three games. However, they let a 40-35 lead slip away from them in the first regional game against Paoli, falling, 42-40, not piecing anything together in the final 4:40 of the game. They finished 21-3, a best from the 18-5 feat from the previous year.

 

15. Jasper (1996)

Every player on the 1995-96 Wildcats grew up without knowing what a regional championship felt like. The last one was in 1973,  but droughts don’t last forever. Having all-time leading scorer Michael Lewis, who was a serious candidate to be named Mr. Basketball, and went on to play at Indiana University, went a long way.

The Wildcats won their second straight sectional, and sixth after last winning a regional championship in 1973. It looked like they might get their year in 1995, heading into the tournament with a 20-4 record, only to bow out, 38-36, against Crawford County.

They met Loogootee for the regional title March 9, and trailed by 11 in the third quarter, only to erase that. The Wildcats nailed 7 of 8 free throws in the final minute and 18 in the quarter for a 64-60 win. Matt Mauck finished with a game-high 26 points, while Lewis had 25.

Jasper saw Terre Haute North in the semistate opener, and despite Michael Lewis’ 31-point performance, could not advance to the championship game in a 69-58 loss. The Wildcats ended the year at 20-8.

Lewis did not finish at Mr. Basketball, though he ended up scoring more points than 1975 winner Kyle Macy and 1983 winner Steve Alford. His 2,138 points are 705 more than second place.

 

16. Forest Park (1990)

Forest Park has enjoyed a lot of success through years that includes 12 sectional championships, six regional championships, four semistate championships and two state championships.

The Rangers didn’t always have that good fortune, though. There had to be a starting point. They played Jasper in triple overtime of the 1975 sectional championship, but lost. Forest Park had to wait 15 more years, 1990, to celebrate its first sectional championship in history. They survived a late scare from Southridge in the semifinals, but held on with a 66-58 triumph.

Forest Park met the Wildcats March 3. The Rangers trailed, 16-9, at one point before rallying on a 23-4 run, and never looking back in the 55-42 win. Brent Lane, Ryan Fleck, Jason Burger and Brian Doutaz all averaged double figures in scoring during the sectional.

Forest Park played its first regional on March 10, but fell in the semifinals, 81-75 in overtime against North Harrison in the Washington tournament. Burger scored a tournament-high 29 points in that game, but it did not suffice. The Rangers finished the 1989-90 season at 15-8, and had to wait until the state runner up season of 2002-03 to win a regional championship for the first time.




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