Plattsmouth's 7 foot Dave MacFarlane, now CEO of Seacoast Medical in Omaha.
The Nebraska High School Basketball All-State Project - Saluting 1979.
By Bobby Mills (1000 Yard Guy)
1979 was the year of dominating teams. Lincoln East entered the Class A Dance with a sparkling 16-1 record and 4 starters averaging in double figures. Their only loss was to Lincoln SE, and starting guard Rustin Seamon was out that game nursing an ankle sprain. Norris dominated Class B in '79 to the tune of 23-0 and an average winning margin of 67-40. The Titans bench contributed 25 points a contest, making Norris a pretty strong favorite to take the Class B portion of the tournament. The one concern though, had to be a Bill Holliday coached Aurora squad that had only one blemish in 21 games, that to Plattsmouth. Big thing here was the Huskies were never really 100% healthy all season.........until now.
There was no team in Nebraska more talked about than Class C's Lyons. "Best Class C team in History", Four Starters that are All-State Players", Nobody comes close here", were all phrases being heard around Lincoln. The Lions clobbered teams to the tune of 85-50 during the season. 4 starters were back from last seasons state runner-up group. 6-6 and 6-8 underneath made this team seem invincible.
In Class D, 24-0 Filley was certainly the team to beat, although Axtell was unscathed at 21-0 and Clearwater's 22-1 team was all seniors and drubbed the opposition to the tune of 75-44 during 1979. Each one of Filley coach Eldon Johnson's 5 starters had a 20 point game(s) at some point during the season. OK.
Here are the class by class State Tournaments at a glance.
*In Class D, the Ft. Kearney conference had to be proud, sending Sumner, Axtell, and Pleasanton to the state tournament. In the noon contest, Clearwater came out after halftime to outscore Sumner 40-19, and proceed to a 68-43 win over Sumner. All-State forward led the way for the Cardinals with 17 points. All-state football/twice 1000 yard rusher, Tom Bedner had 10 for Sumner. In the 2nd game, #1 Filley jumped on Leyton 20-4 and never looked back as the Wildcats doubled up the outmanned Warriors, 88-44. Guard Bruce Burh was perfect from the field for Filley, going 10 for 10 while scoring 22 points.
In the nightcap opener, it was a Ft. Kearney rematch of Axtell and Pleasanton and the purple clad Wildcats made it a 2 game sweep over Pleasanton with an easy 70-50 victory. 6-5 Richard Fecht led the 'Cats with 16. In the nightcap, Polk and Walthill hooked up for a memorable, high scoring basketball game. Walthill sprinted to a 24-16 first quarter advantage, but the Cubs roared back with 30 second quarter points to give Polk a 46-38 lead.
The Cubs would hold on to that lead and post a thrilling 79-74 win over a Walthill team that had beaten 3 Class B squads during the season. Scott Hudson led Polk with 22, followed by Dave Schenk's 19. The Stansberry boys were the stars for Walthill. Russ notched 25 big ones while Eddie canned 18. Walthill went to the charity stripe only 8 times in the game.
In the semis, Filley ground up Clearwater 74-48 and had built up a 142-91 two game scoring bulge over opponents in the state tourney. Axtell pulled off a mid surprise and gained the finals with an 82-65 win over a Polk team that I thought would play on Saturday.
In the Class D final, Filley continued the cakewalk with a 54-31 thrashing of Axtell. The Wildcats of Eldon Johnson had made it through the 1978/79 season with perfection.....27-0. Axtell's 6-6 post man, Kym Rush led all Class D tournament scorers with 53 points (17.7). Stanley Lenners led a balanced Filley team with 43 points, followed by Polks Shenck with 41 and Lenners teammate, Bruce Buhr, who had 40. Axtell's 6-5 Richard Fecht also tallied 40.
*All eyes in Class C were on Lyons, and I followed the Lions all the way through the Dance. In the 1st round, Lyons coach Greg Kama elected to leave his starters in long enough to break the single game tournament scoring record. His Lions blasted Hebron 94-68 and drew criticism from many who witnessed the massacre. Some, however, subscribed to the old saying "records were made to be broken".
Lyons had a 63-50 lead after 3 quarters, so it certainly wasn't what many would consider a safe lead. The Lions outscored the Bears 31-10 in that final stanza and personally, I was not upset by what ended up a wide margin of victory. The Lions 6-6 Jeff Hayes was incredible in the game, connecting on 17-24 field goal attampts for 35 points.
Grant held on to nip North Bend in overtime, 59-57 to win the other night game. High scoring sophomore Roger Lawson and floor general Joel Long paced the Plainsmen with 13 each, but North Bend's 6-4 Dean Lux took scoring honors with his 22 counters, 10 coming from the free throw line.
Yutan let Palmer sharpshooter have his 21 points, but beat the Tigers 56-40 in the "C" opener. Dean Egr had 16 for the Chieftains, while Tom Kammerer added 15. In the other early game, high scoring and unbeaten Republican Valley ignored Norfolk Catholic's brutal schedule and absolutely blitzed the Knights, 87-60. It was never close, friends as the Mustangs raced to a 28-10 first quarter lead. Junior Denis Vontz scored 26, Steve Sughroue 17, and Dan Malleck 16 in the romp.
Grant gave Lyons all it wanted before falling, 70-65 in the semifinals. Yutan controlled the tempo to best Republican Valley 58-50 in the other semi contest and I could see a route coming in the finals.
In that final game, it was just another day at the office for the might Lyons Lions, as the Class C kingpins waltzed through Yutan, 75-41 to seal the Class C title and solidify the talk that this group may be the best ever in that class.
Ironically, Lyons NEVER QULAIFIED FOR ANOTHER STATE TOURNAMENT SINCE. Jeff Hayes just dominated all 3 games for Lyons and ended the tournament with a 31 point per game average. Nearest average to Hayes was Rep Valley's Malleck, who scored 38 in teo outings, averaging 19 ppg.
*In Class B, Norris kicked off the morning session with a big win over Broken Bow, 74-43 as expected. Elkhorn Mt. Michael, who moved up to Class B that year, beat Hartington Cedar Catholic 60-44 to win the 2nd game. All-state player Steve DiGiancinto paced Killer Kane's discliplined Knights with 24 points. Sidney opened the evening session with a 56-43 win over Raymond Central in a game that featured teams with similiar talents. 6-0 senior Mark Zalesky the Red Raiders balanced attack with 16 counters, followed by 6-6 post Jim Rosenbaum's 15.
The nightcap featured a battle between two of the greatest coaches in Nebraska Prep history, Aurora's Bill Holliday, and Bill Ramsey of Cozad. Aurora won the 1st quarter, 14-12, but the Haymakers fought back to take a 38-35 lead. Cozad would stretch that lead to 54-48 after 3, but Holliday's forces staged a furious rally to take a 66-64 win over Cozad to close out that 1st round. Aurora had 4 players in double figures in that game, Dave Hasse and Kevin Penner had 14, while Mitch Carter and Mike Johnson added 12 apiece.
That balance led Aurora to a 64-51 semifinal win, while Norris eliminated Mt. Michael, 47-36.
In the finals, Aurora gave Norris a good fight, but the Titans were just too much in the end, coming away with a 51-44 victory and with it a Class B crown and a perfect 26-0 slate.
*Nobody will ever forget Class A in 1979. All eyes were on Lincoln East that weekend in Class A. But, looming up there in Northern Nebraska was a crafty, wise had man named David Oman and his Norfolk Panthers.
Before the opening round ended in Class A, shockwaves could be felt all the way from North Platte to Norfolk to Omaha. Things kicked off with top seeded Creighton Prep's season coming to an end with a shocking 64-62 overtime loss to Wally McNaught's Lincoln SE Knights. I wonder if Brother Michael Wilmont will ever forget that baby. Southeast's Mark McManamen showed why a 6-2 player was chosen to man the Center position on the 1979 Super-State squad, when he dumped in 24 points in the win. Going up against 6-4 Prep freshman Kerry Trotter, McManamen schooled the youngster with 9-14 from the field and 8-11 from the line. Bernie O'Doherty and Chris Knust each had 17 for the Junior Jays, but it wasn't enough.
In the 2nd game, a 13-6 North Platte, Tom Millsap coached squad held off Omaha South 57-53 for the 2nd shock-waver of the day. 2 time all-state 6-3 star, Chuck Anderson burned the Pack with 25 points. Brent Douglas led Omaha South with 20.
The night session opened with #1 seeded Lincoln East taking on a 12-8 Omaha Northwest team that figured to be one of the best in 1979 but started slow. Remeber, Dick Koch's Huskies had all-state 6-4 Leo Crawford, who averaged 20 points and 10 boards and a leaper supreme named Kenyon Sharp. Nonetheless, East had beaten ONW earlier.
Lincoln East could never shake Northwest and the longer the Huskies hung around, the tougher it became. in fact, it became so difficult for Paul Forch's Spartans, that Omaha NW pulled off the THIRD upset of the day with a 60-58 win. An unlikely hero, 6-3 center Keith Higgenbottom, overcame the surround cast of East's bigs, 6-7 Derke Sailors and 6-5 Alex Stirvins, and 6-8 Paul Baker to score 22 points. Meanwhile, the 3 Lincoln East stars combined for 48 points, but it was too little, too late.
In the nightcap...........you guessed it. Norfolk may have caught Omaha Tech licking their chops for a shot at upset winner Omaha Northwest. Dave Oman's Panthers completed the foursome of absolute shockers with an 80-60 embarrassment of Gene Haynes Omaha Tech crew. 6-3 forward Chuck Sintek led the upset with 20 points. Dave Russert chipped in 18 more in the Panther win. Norfolk held Tech to 24 of 65 shooting in the game.
To illustrate how utterly strange this 1st round was in Class A, consider this. The winner of the 4 first round games had a combined record of 52-26. The losers, Lincoln East, Creighton Prep, Omaha Tech, and Omaha NW had a combined record of...............70 and 14!
In the semifinals, Omaha Northwest's talent was too much for David Oman's Norfolk Panthers as the Huskies gained the finals with a 69-56 win. Lincoln Southeast proved their 1st round win over powerful Prep was no fluke by beating North Platte, 57-53. Chuck Anderson had 19 for the Platters, but it just wasn't enough.
In the finals it was 14-8 Omaha NW facing a 16-7 Lincoln SE squad. Had there ever been 2 teams in the Class A finals with a combined 15 losses? Ironically, in 1977 Omaha Burke and Lincoln High had a combined 19 losses. Burke snared the title with a 17-8 record.
In this year's finals, the Huskies from Omaha Northwest just buried Southeast 82-63. Crawford, Sharp, Higgenbotham and company were by far the best in that one. Northwest finished the season 15-8 and Leo Crawford won the tournament scoring title with his 79 points (26.3 ppg). Lincoln SE 6-1 senior Mark McManamen was 2nd with 59 points and enjoyed a fine state tourney despite the route by the Huskies in that championhip game.
*1979 Class D All-State Team*
G - Bruce Buhr-Filley - 6-0, Senior (14.3 ppg)
G - Dave Schenk-Polk - 6-0, Senior (19.0 ppg)
C - David Meints-Filley - 6-3, Senior (11.3 ppg)
F - Joe Hopkins-Clearwater - 6-1, Senior (19.0 ppg)
F - Tom Bedner-Sumner - 6-1, Senior (18.5 ppg)
G - Brian Timmons-Hordville - 6-0, Senior (19.2 ppg)
G - Scott Hudson-Polk - 6-0, Senior (13.4 ppg)
C - Kym Rush-Axtell - 6-6, Senior (13.3 ppg)
F - John Miller-Walthill - 6-0, Senior (16.0 ppg)
F - Stanley Lenners-Filley - 6-4, Junior (14.1 ppg)
*One major newspaper in Nebraska had three Filley players on 1st Team all-state in 1979. No surprise there, the Wildcats were that dominant. How about Tom Bedner from Sumner. 1000 yard rusher on a team that won one game all year. All-state basketball player the same season. Bedner is now a Doctor of Physical Therapy in Grand Island. Not one player taller than 6'-3" tall on that 1st team.
*Honorable Mention: Richard Fecht-Axtell, Keith Brumbaugh-Bradshaw, Jim Wallin-Fairmont, Rick Schommer and Mike Adams-Spencer, Bob Crockett-Davenport, Gary Bender and Bryan Reichmuth-Humphrey, Russell Wilshusen-Hordville, Mark Jacobsen-Marquette, Dana Schultz-Clarks, Robert Schropfer-Ohiowa, Larry Walker-Eustis, Matt Kamia-Haigler, Mark Cape-Leyton, Daryl Burks-Maywood, Garrett Hardy-Stratton, Rod Henkel, Eddie Stansberry-Walthill, John Laflin-Lewiston, Lyle Miller-Maxwell, Kevin O'Neill-Pleasanton, Jeff Sperling-Lincoln Christian, John Cox-Arcadia, and Barry Neumann-North Loup-Scotia.
*1979 Class C All-State Team*
G - Jim Gustafson-Lyons - 6-3, Senior (13.7 ppg/5.1 rpg)
G - Mark Chaney-David City - 6-0, Senior (19.9 ppg/6.0 rpg)
C - Jim Going-Lyons - 6-8, Junior (16.8 ppg/12.8 rpg)
F - Jeff Hayes-Lyons - 6-6, Senior (26.5 ppg/14.3 rpg)
F - Dale Blum-Howells*- 6-3, Senior (17.2 ppg/13.8 rpg)
G - Dale Engle-Sandy Creek - 5-10, Senior (18.0 ppg/7.5 rpg)
G - Kent Payne-Palmer - 6-1, Junior (32.4 ppg/2.8 rpg)
C - Chris Parr-Dodge - 6-7, Senior (19.8 ppg/12.2 rpg)
F - Randy Hagedorn-West Point C.C. - 6-5, Senior (22.8 ppg/9.7 rpg)
F - Jamie Ross-Hemingford - 6-2, Junior (24.5 ppg/14 rpg)
*So......was Lyons the best Class C team ever after all was said and done? Well, to that point, 1979, they may have been just that, although you may get some arguements from folks that attended Atkinson St. Joseph, whose team doninated in the late 40's. Not often a team comes along like that in a town the size of Lyons. In the Lions case, never again....not even close. #33 Jim Going and #51 Jeff Hayes could have played at any level in Nebraska and the teamwork was just poetry in motion. THREE players on Class C First team all-state with no questions asked. Hayes, by the way, ended his career with 1,585 points scored.
Palmer's Kent Payne was well on his way to 2000 career points in 1979. Payne was one of the purest shooters I ever witnessed in high school basketball. Living in St. Paul, Payne's folks opted to send him to high school down the road a ways to be a Tiger in Palmer. Blum of Howells was a repeater from last year's squad and derservedly so. And how about 3 players on that 1st team all averaging a double-double for points/rebounds. Ditto for both Dodge's Parr and Ross out of Hemingford of the 2nd team. I saw Terry Ahlers of Cedar Rapids, an honorable mention all-stater, drop in 51 points on one occasion in 1979. The guy could light it up, I tell you.
*Honorable Mention: Doug Emanuel-North Bend, John Roesler-Tri-County, Dave Ridder-West Point C.C., Greg Zaugg-Yutan, Tim Brungardt-Norfolk Catholic, Brian Maher-Logan View, Bruce Meister-Fremont Bergan, Terry Dinslage-Clarkson, Allen Spenner-Dodge, Dan Malleck-Republican Valley, Todd Widler-Geneva, Jody Rhodes-Exeter, Jeff Shaw-Milford, Allen Olmstead-Friend, Randy Skoda-David City Aquinas, Kim Grubaugh-David City, Robert Gier-Bloomfield, Joel Hansen-Hartington, Daryl Volquardsen-Gibbon, Ron Craig-Wymore Southern Roger Lawson-Grant, Jay Prauner-Battle Creek, Jeff Johnson-Pawnee City, Dick Hadden-Bridgeport, Dave Rouzee-North Platte St. Pats, Mike Shaw-Benkelman, Joel Long-Grant, John Mazour-Nelson, Jeff Hoppes-Burwell, Terry Burkey-Hebron and Terry Ahlers-Cedar Rapids.
*1979 Class B All-State Team
G -Duane Marvin-McCook* - 6-1, Senior (22.0 ppg)
G -Tom Oswald-Fairbury* - 5-11, Senior (20.0 ppg)
C - Dave MacFarlane-Plattsmouth* - 7-0, Senior (22.1 ppg/13.7 rpg)
F - Kevin Penner-Aurora- 6-1, Junior (16.4 ppg/10.3 rpg)
F - John Higgens-Omaha Cathedral - 6-2, Senior (19.1 ppg)
G - Steve DiGiacinto-Elkhorn Mt. Michael - 6-0, Senior (20.0 ppg)
G - Mitch Carter-Aurora - 6-1, Senior (14.1 ppg/4.3 rpg)
C - Mark McKoene-Cozad - 6-5, Senior (17.4 ppg/10.1 rpg)
F - Rod Kramer-Norris - 6-5, Senior (13.7 ppg)
F - Rich Wilberger-Nebraska City - 6-4, Senior (21.3 ppg)
*Three repeaters on the 1st team in Marvin, Oswald, and Plattsmouth's 7 foot Dave MacFarlane. Big Dave finished his illustrious career with 1,605 points and went on to letter for Nebraska basketball in 1980. MacFarlane is currently CEO of Seacoast Medical in Omaha. Omaha Cathedral's John Higgens is now consdiered one of the finest officials in college basketball. Higgs did one of the NCAA semifinal games a week ago. Aurora's Kevin Penner, the only junior on the 1st team, was really just getting started. Before 1980 would conclude, Penner would be a household name and that was only the start of an illustious college career and beyond.
One of the strangest occurances I ever saw, although not crazy when you think about it, was the fact state champion Norris had NO PLAYER on 1st team all-state. Rod Kramer was a 2nd team selection, but his 13.7 ppg illustrated just how balanced that team was during it's 26-0 season. Very difficult to pick a player for post season honors from such a balanced team, but you can be assured that that 1979 Norris Titan crew was nearly every single high school basketball coach in history's dream team.....no stars, and all TEAM in and out. No "I" in team there.
*Honorable Mention: Rusty Hansen-Arlington, Ross Vandergriend and Brandon DeVries-Norris, Mark Zalesky, Mike Sheaman-Sidney, Brad Kreifels-Syracuse, Guy Southwick-Waverly, Terry Lantz-Blair, Kirk Nelson and John Moran-Omaha Cathedral, Mike Tineley-Ogallala, Dave Hasse-Aurora, Gregg Kay-Hastings Adams Central, Steve Dudley, Jay Novacek-Gothenburg, Dan Bissell-Lincoln Pius X, Brian Alberry-Gretna, and Chris Hove-Minden.
*1979 Class A All-State Team
G - Chuck Anderson-North Platte* - 6-3, Senior (20.1 ppg/8.5 rpg)
G - Leo Crawford-Omaha Northwest - 6-4, Senior (20.2 ppg/10.5 rpg)
C - Mark McManaman-Lincoln Southeast - 6-1, Senior (19.6 ppg/10.4 rpg)
F - Derek Sailors-Lincoln East - 6-3, Senior (17.0 ppg/7.2 rpg)
F - Alex Stivrins-Lincoln East - 6-5, Junior (12.8 ppg/6.2 rpg)
G - Richard Sheridan-Lincoln High - 5-11, Senior (16.0 ppg/4 rpg)
G - Dean "The Dream" Thompson-Omaha Westside - 6-0, Junior (18.4 ppg/5.2 rpg)
C - Paul Baker-Lincoln East - 6-8, Senior (15.3 ppg/13.2 rpg)
F - Victor Jordan-Omaha Tech - 6-3, Senior (1.1 7ppg/7 rpg)
F - Scott Johnson-Beatrice - 6-8, Senior (21.1 ppg/11 rpg)
*Despite being upset 1st round at state, Lincoln East placed both Sailors and Stirvins on the 1st team....no doubter there. North Platte's Anderson was a solid repeat selection from 1978 and earned a letter with Plattsmouth's MacFarlane on the 1980 Nebraska basketball team. Both Crawford and McManaman averaged a double-double on that first team, as well as Paul Baker of Lincoln East and Beatrice's Scott Johnson of the 2nd squad.
Dean Thompson of Omaha Westside may not have had the nickname "The Dream" in 1979, but old Deano would light up Class A and well beyond in 1980. Stay tuned.