Bob Gratopp - Geneva/Nebraska Cornhsuker basketball.
*photo courtesy of Nebraska High School Hall of Fame.
By Bobby Mills (1000 Yard Guy)
This is the 3rd in a series of 50 years of all-state basketball and today we spotlight the 1966 high school all-state teams. Don Forsythe of the Lincoln Star made the selections and dubbed the Class A team as the "shortest All-State Team" to date. This is right smack dab in the middle of my high school years, so I saw many of these athletes play. I played basketball as a freshman, then concentrated on football thereafter, so I would travel around the state and watch these guys perform during hoops season. Some friends and I would pile into my drum set hauling station wagon and set sail to watch the high scoring machines from that era.
There was a time or two we snuck a peak at a few of the local girls, which of course was not received all that well by the local fellas, so common sense took over at that point.
On to the cream of the crop from 1966. So many sharpshooters.
1966 Nebraska High School All-State Basketball Teams:
Randy Carpenter-Overton - 6-2, 175, Sr.
Terry Egger-Sprague-Martell - 5-11, 165, Jr.
DeVon Huebert-Marquette - 5-11, 160, Sr.
Bernard Kluthe -Elgin St. Boniface - 6-2, 175, Sr.
Terry Petrzelka-Prague - 6-3, 185, Sr.
*Marquette (25-3) won the Class D title by besting Elgin St. Boniface, 60-48. The Cubs used only 5 players in that game.....Incredible. What was more bizzare is the fact Marquette didn't even win their own conference. How tough was the Crossroads? Marquette was balanced, but Coach Lee Penner's leader was Huebert. The 5-11 senior averaged 21 ppg. St. Boniface had a shining star in Bernard Kluthe, who scored 1,673 point in his 4 years as a starter. The Elgin parochial school only tasted defeat 12 times in his 92 games as a starter. Two standouts on this team I saw that year and Prague's Terry Petrzelka left me in a tizzy. The 6-3 all around athlete averaged 28 ppg and pulled down 19 boards. The wizard from Prague canned 1,955 points in his career and was just an astounding athlete to watch. Sprague-Martell's Egger wasn't far behind Petrzelka for athleticism. He averaged 23/game and was an outstanding rebounder. Overton's Randy Carpenter was an inside threat and may have been the best assist man at his position in Class D. Great inside-out reads.
Honorable mention names that may ring a bell: Elmwood's sharpshooting junior Larry Ferguson, Dennis Harb-Cairo, Snyder junior Dale Kassabaum, Dennis Swedeburg, a defensive stalwart from Sutherland, Steve Jarchow-DeWitt smoothie. Dave Shuck-Edger, Jerry Leiss-Indianola, Larry Scholl-Mason City, Richard Glock-Rising City, Jim Wobig-Cody, Dennis Loewe-Clearwater, Victor Nelson-Cairo and Henry Flossen-Bartley.
Dennis Beckman-Lincoln University High - 5-10, 175, Sr.
Jack Kramer-Fullerton - 6-10, 200, Sr.
Sam Martin-Pawnee City - 6-0, 155, Sr.
Micky Mizner-Grant - 5-11, 160, Sr.
Joey Rathe-Sterling - 6-5, 160, Jr.
*Grant gave up 4 inches per man and still topped Bertrand 53-51 for the "C" crown. Micky Mizer was magical for the Plainsmen, scoring 28 points. Mizner was so smooth, so fast, lightening quick, and a smothering defensive pest. When Grant needed a play, it was Mizner. Kramer was lauded as the tallest player in Nebraska that season. Big Jack suffered the loss of part of a foot or toe, can't recall, in a mowing accident as a freshman but overcame that disability to average 26.7 ppg and 19.7 rebounds his senior season. A player then Husker coach Joe Cipriano looked at was Pawnee City's Sam Martin. Before suffering an ankle injury during this '66 season, Martin was averaging 30 ppg, 14 boards and 10 assists. Yeah, a triple/double every game. Martin scored 1,228 in his career for the Indians.
Sterling's Joey Rathe had to be Class C's most exciting player. Talk about bloodlines. Joey's older brothers, Del and Larry Rathe were just super basketball studs. The only junior on this squad, Rathe averaged 10.4 ppg as a freshman, 19 as a sophomore, and poured in 24.1 ppg and pulled down 16 boards per outing this junior season. Beckman was a holdover from the University High Tutors state title team from 1965. Tutors......of course they were.
And the players that just missed all-state were: Arlington's Tom Brown, Doug Carey-Franklin, Dan Hilton-Elwood, big 6-6 Barry Sandstrom of Bertrand, along with teammate Scott Davis. Scribner's Randy Cerney, Cam Sutton of Laurel and Pete Harges-Spencer.
Other honorable mention names you may recognize: Gary Brouillette-Alma, Gary Travnicek-Clarkson, Joe Krejci-Elkhorn, Loren Faaborg-Fullerton, Dale Kroeker-Henderson, Rich Guzinski-Loup City, Mick Anderson-Oakland, Terry Cizek-Spencer, Rich Kudrna-Red Cloud, Wendell Franke-Hooper and Merlin Terwilliger-Grant.
Mike Aspen-Hastings St. Cecilia - 6-5, 175, Sr.
Bob Gratopp-Geneva - 6-4, 201, Sr.
Bill Hansen-Millard - 6-3, 185, Sr.
Rich McGill-West Point Central Catholic - 5-11, 160, Sr.
Loren Peithman - Hebron - 6-2, 160, Sr.
*Millard beat Omaha Holy Name at their own fast paced game in winning the Class B title 54-51. The Hansen brothers, Bill and Rich, led Coach Lyle Buell's Indians in the Championship game. No fabulous Bob Gratopp in the 1966 Class B state tournament. Hebron eliminated Geneva in the district final, denying Gratopp a chance to dazzle the crowds at the NU Coliseum. Bill Hansen was Millard's go-to guy when it counted. Hansen scored 120 points in tourney play in '66 and was a dribble drive expert as well as a long distance shooting ace. Gratopp was lauded as the finest player in the entire state. I still say Bob's baseline corner shot was the sweetest I have ever seen. During district play, Gratopp scored 29, 34, and 40 points respectively in the 3 games. His 40 point outburst was not enough to overcome Hebron's 62-61 victory. Still a mystery why Archie Chapman was not coaching this team in 1966. He led the this Geneva squad to the Class B title the year before with the outstanding Gratopp coming back. Of course Bob Gratopp went on to have a Hall of Fame career for the Huskers. Big Bob passed at the young age of 48 in May of 1996 after suffering a pulmonary blockage.
West Point CC's Rich McGill was NE Nebraska's top performer, averaging 25 ppg. McGill dropped 28 on Millard in a first round loss in that year's state tourney. St. Cecilia's Mike Aspen was simply one of the state's best big men, period. He scored 1,214 points in his career and 14 boards a game and could wander outside the paint and nail a long distance shot which would have been a 3 pointer today. I played against Aspen as a freshman and it was a joke at best for this guy. Hebron's Peithman was a smooth shooting floor general whose finest moment was an 18 field goal, 37 point game in a first round state tourney win over Schuyler.
Players that narrowly missed all-state status: Wayne's 6-6 Dean Elofson, Ralston back court ace Rich Koch, David City Aquinas one man show-Bill Bartunek, Superior's splendid all-around athlete-Doug Anderson, Gering's smoothie Larry Rice and Ord Chant dead-eye shooting Larry Kapustka.
More honorable mentions: Bill Mimick-Columbus Scotus, Jerry Nicolarsen-Hastings St. Cecilia, Paul Emanuel-North Bend, Bob Johnson-St. Paul, Dave Ohnoutka-Wahoo Neumann, Delmer King-West Kearney, Dave Johnston-York.
Klaus Brotzki-Omaha Bishop Ryan - 6-3, 175, Sr.
Jeff Draemel-Fremont - 5-11, 170, Sr.
Jim Hunter-Omaha Central - 6-2, 180, Sr.
Jack Ketterer-Lincoln Northeast - 6-0, 160, Sr.
Ron White-Boys Town - 6-3, 177, Sr.
*The Boys Town Cowboys snared their 2nd straight Class A crown beating Lincoln NE 53-44. The final score was closer than the game actually was. Ron White was the toast of the tournament and this Class A all-state team which was tagged as the shortest in years. White exploded for 32 points in that championship game with LNE. The lefty White was a 4 year starter for Boys Town and was a repeat selection from '65
Bishop Ryan's Brotzki averaged 21 ppg and won the Omaha Metro Conference scoring title and was regarded as the best rebounder in all of Omaha. Brotzki has a deadly accurate shot from the hot corner too. Omaha Central's bespectacled senior Jim Hunter was a slick ball hawker that once had 12 steals in a game for the Eagles. He was so fluid and a menace on defense for the Omaha Central.
Lincoln Northeast was, without a doubt, led by the fabulous Ketterer. He was a floor general who averaged only 14 ppg but exploded for 25 points and 13 assists in the Rockets semi final win over Omaha Benson. Ketterer was shut down only by Boys Town's pressing defense, but otherwise was money nearly every time he stepped on the floor. Fremont's Draemel was a lot like Northeast's Ketterer, leading with not only his outside shooting, but dribble drive expertise.
And now the "almost there" from "A": Lee Torrens-Bellevue, Deadly shooting Bob O'Doherty from Creighton Prep, Mike Graham-Omaha Benson, Boys Town's Jim Hester, Phil Blum-Omaha Westside, Rick Warner-Columbus junior, McCook veteran Ray Harr, and Norfolk's Doug Osborn.
HM names that might ring your bell: Dick Pease-Hastings, Ed Erickson-Holdrege, Mike Bohaty-Lincoln Pius X, Jim Dietemeyer-Lincoln SE, Dennis Weinhold-McCook, David Allen-Omaha South, and Joe Goodell-Scottsbluff.