The Little Ten Conference will hold its 100th boys basketball tournament starting next week. The tournament has seen countless great games, players and coaches since its beginning. Here is a look at some of the highlights and special moments from the first 99 events.
The inaugural tournament
Sandwich, playing on its home floor and with previous 22-20 wins over both Paw Paw and Plano, defeated Rollo 16-9 in the first Little Ten Conference boys basketball championship game. Rollo had rolled into the title game with lopsided victories over Hinckley (43-7) and Leland (55-7).
Waterman pitches first-half shutout in title game
Waterman put the defensive claps down the entire tournament, including the championship game. It opened with a 27-11 win over Plano and 29-12 triumph against Sheridan before topping Hinckley 20-1 for the title. In the final game, after a scoreless first period Waterman led 3-0 at half and 11-1 at the end three quarters.
First overtime championship contest
The new gymnasium in Somonauk was the site for the first championship game that need extra time to be decided, as Waterman defeated tourney favorite Leland 24-22 in double overtime. Waterman had beaten Sheridan (48-17) and Shabbona (20-19) to reach the finals, while Leland earned wins over Paw Paw (47-15), Earlville (31-26) and Rollo (28-24). It was Waterman’s eighth title in nine years.
Somonauk wins LTC title and reaches Elite Eight
Somonauk, the undefeated regular-season champ, rolled into the championship game at Plano against Waterman with three tournament wins by a combined score of 164-73. Coach Bill Randle’s Bobcats used a 19-9 third-period advantage to push them to a 54-42 title victory. Somonauk’s Jerry Voss had 21 points in the final, while Waterman’s Claire Baie netted a game-high 25 points. Somonauk finished the year with 31 wins, advancing to the state tournament in Champaign.
Chilly window seat for some, future broadcaster in stripes
In Waterman’s 39-35 championship victory over Serena at Somonauk, 850 spectators crammed into a gym made for 750 with 300 others turned away. However, some die-hard fans climbed up outside the building to watch through windows in freezing temperatures. Waterman’s Gene Hays led all scorers with 16 points, while Serena’s Lee Dondanville had 15 points. Future Los Angeles Lakers play-by-play announcer Francis Dayle Hearn, known as “Chick”, was one of the officials in the final game.
Serena’s Cinderella story
The host Huskers and coach Dick Dorsey were one of the lower-rated teams, but started the tournament with a 65-58 victory over Paw Paw behind 31 points by Don Mundorf and 23 from Don Donahue. They then pulled off upsets over Hinckley (59-52) and Leland (58-45) in the semifinals. Top-seeded Waterman, which was the tournament hands-down favorite, ran past Earlville 91-71 in the other semifinal. Serena, which ended just 4-6 in the LTC regular season, used a huge third quarter and 25 points from Donahue to pull off what may be one of the biggest upsets in the tournament’s history with a 58-53 final triumph.
Shabbona rolls to largest title-game win
Shabbona entered the tournament at Hinckley as the top seed, 16-0, ranked fourth in the state according to the United Press International Poll. The Indians opened with a 97-38 win over Earlville, with the 97 points being a then tournament record. In the semifinals, Shabbona rolled to an 81-35 victory over Serena, while second-place Leland clipped Sandwich 74-54.Leland, which had fallen 70-52 earlier in the season to the Indians, fell behind 23-9 after one quarter in the title game and was defeated 91-41. Shabbona finished the season 32-1 and 9-0 in the LTC season, with the 18-point victory over the Panthers being its closest league game.
Serena/Hinckley-Big Rock ... sudden death
It was written that Serena’s gym was filled with an estimated 1,300 fans an hour prior to tip-off of the championship game between the Huskers and Hinckley-Big Rock, with fans getting in line for a seat even before school had dismissed that day. The teams played even through regulation and a three-minute overtime to send the contest to a first-to-lead-by-two points sudden-death period. Serena’s Gary Dolder’s 15-foot jumper two-and-a-half minutes in clinched the title. Jerry Hanson led the hosts with 18 points, while Royals’ star guard Bob Raymond poured in a game-high 23.
Newark joins league, wins tournament
The league welcomed Newark and Malta as Sandwich and Plano departed, and the Norsemen wasted little time in rising to the top. Top-seeded Newark, which finished runner-up in the regular-season standings to Shabbona, faced the No. 2-seeded Indians in the championship game at Hinckley. The Norsemen trailed 13-11 after one quarter, but shot nearly 60 percent from the field and outscored Shabbona 33-18 over the next two periods to led them to a 64-49 victory. Dave Thompson scored a game-high 24 points, with Fred Skelton and Doug Knudson adding 14 each. Rod Fultz topped the Indians with 17 points.
Clausel’s OT shot lifts Newark past Serena
Newark’s Tracy Clausel tipped in a rebound to send the title game against Serena into overtime, and then, playing on a twisted ankle, sank a short jumper with 11 seconds left in the extra period to give the Norsemen a thrilling, 58-56 win at Waterman. Warren Peterson, who made the pass to Clausel in OT, finished with a team-high 22 points, while the Huskers’ Mike Warren led all scorers with 24. Serena had topped Shabbona 62-59 in the semifinals, while Newark held off a huge rally by undefeated regular-season champ Leland to win 81-76 in overtime.
In Coach Stegman’s final LTC Tourney, Huskers triumph
Serena coach Al Stegman, in his last league tournament before retiring at the end of the season after leading his club to the school’s first regional title, saw his Huskers trailing by five points at halftime in the final against rival Newark before rallying for a 58-52 victory. Serena guard Huston Bailey scored a game-high 21 points, including seven of the final 10 Huskers’ points, and made a key scoring pass to center Rich Rosengren in the final minute to put his club ahead for good. Mike Shields paced Chuck Nelson’s Norsemen with 20 points. In 2018, the tournament’s championship trophy was named in Stegman memory and honor. He passed away in March of 2017.
Edmondson leads H-BR to title, state quarterfinals
Hinckley-Big Rock’s 6-foot-7 center Jim Edmondson scored a game-high 26 points to go along with 14 rebounds and seven blocked shots, and the Royals used a 23-13 fourth-quarter advantage to top Newark 67-56 at Somonauk. The Norsemen were led by Kevin Clausel’s 24 points and 11 markers from Jim Nichols. A few weeks later, Edmondson netted 55 points in the Royals’ 80-65 supersectional win over Winnebago, but H-BR then fell to eventual state champ McLeansboro in the state quarterfinals in Champaign.
Newark rolls to title, later falls to Ohio in sectional final
The Norsemen slammed into the final game with dominating wins over Serena (107-55) and Waterman (76-58) in the semifinals before running past Shabbona 86-60. In the championship contest, Larry Ness and Shawn Shehane each scored 20 points, while Larry Hilt and Dave Olson netted 18 apiece. Brad Johnson led the Indians with a game-high 22 points. It was Newark’s second in a string of four consecutive tourney titles, and they finished 29-1 on the year, falling to eventual state runner-up Ohio by two points in the Class A sectional final at Princeton.
The David Olson Show
Olson entered the tournament leading the state in scoring, averaging around 35 points per game.In Newark’s 87-62 opening-round win over Malta, Olson canned six treys in a 43-point performance. Against Serena in the semifinals, Olson scored 46 points, including eight 3s, and grabbed 10 rebounds to pace the Norsemen to a 75-66 victory.The title game was more of the same from Olson and Newark,as they scored a 59-53 title-game win over top-seeded Shabbona, with Olson tallying 40 points, pulling down 11 rebounds and blocking four shots, and Matt Myre adding 15 points. Deke Jeske had 18 points and 12 boards for the Indians.
Leland’s 1st title in 61 years
The Panthers entered the tournament the No. 3 seed behind second-seeded Hinckley-Big Rock and top-seed Somonauk. After a 10-point opening-round win over Shabbona, Leland put together a come-from-behind, 60-57 victory over the Bobcats in the semifinals. In the final against Malta, Paul Higgerson scored 24 points and Fred Seville added 18 as the Panthers earned a 73-58 win to take home the top prize for the first time since 1928.
1997 / 1998
Paw Paw’s 1st and 2nd titles
The Bulldogs were one of the founding members of the league, but had never been able to take home the tournament’s top prize. In 1997, Paw Paw was having one of its best seasons in school history and carried its strong play all the way to its first title. Coach Steve Herren’s third-seeded Bulldogs topped No. 2 Newark in the semifinals 49-42 — behind 15 points from Mike Torman and 10 points each from brothers Josh and Helson Martinez — then knocked off top-seeded and defending champ Hinckley-Big Rock 47-43.
In 1998, they turned the trick again. After romping past LaMoille 80-38 in its opener, Paw Paw defeated Newark again in the semis, this time 48-43. The Bulldogs then topped coach Ron Hunt’s Cinderella seventh-seeded Indian Creek Timberwolves 68-54 in the championship contest, with Mike Torman pouring in 28 points.
Malta, Justin Allen roll to 1st and only championship
The Mustangs, led by 6-foot-8 and Division I prospect Allen, entered the title game against Somonauk after wins over Leland (65-42) and Serena (71-48) in the semifinals, while the sixth-seeded Bobcats had knocked off No. 3 Indian Creek and No. 2 Newark. Allen put on one of the top performances in a title game as he scored 37 points to go along with seven rebounds, seven blocks and four assists in Malta’s 76-47 victory and first tournament championship. Malta High School closed its doors after the 1999-2000 school year.
Newark wins overtime thriller over H-BR
The top-seeded Norsemen found themselves down 27-14 to the No. 2-seeded Royals after the opening quarter of the championship game, but were able to chip away at the disadvantage and tied the game with eight seconds remaining in regulation on Kerry Carlson’s 3-pointer. Then, in the extra period, it was Dan Clausel’s layup with 13 seconds left that proved to be the winning points in Newark’s 63-61 win. H-BR sharpshooter Tim Peffer finished with 37 points, including seven field goals from beyond the arc.
Newark: LTC Tourney and state champs
Before the Norsemen rolled to the Class 1A state championship, they captured the school’s then 17th tournament title with a 62-57 win over Indian Creek in a week that saw a snow storm put the get-together on hold for a couple of days. Newark, which finished the year 33-1, opened with a 78-54 victory over Paw Paw, a game that saw Kyle Anderson go over 2,000 career points. After an easy semifinal triumph over Leland-Earlville (75-37), the Norsemen used a team-leading 18 points from John Avery, a double-double from Brett Anderson (14 points, 10 rebounds), 13 points from Kyle Anderson and 11 more from Cameron Berg to top Indian Creek 62-57. Alex Bremner paced the T-Wolves with 18 points, including five 3-pointers.
Newark wins over Indian Creek in double overtime
Norsemen coach Rick Tollefson said it best after watching his team defeat Indian Creek 80-73.
“The fans sure got their money’s worth tonight.”
Cam Myre netted all six of his points and Dylan Patrick (14 points) swished five straight free throws in the second overtime for Newark, while Will Clausel poured in a game-best 28 points, and Beau Brown added 14. Kevin Jordal had 21 points for the Timberwolves, who fell to the Norsemen in the title game for the second straight year.
Patrick’s 35 leads Norsemen
Newark’s Dylan Patrick was nearly unstoppable in helping his club to its fourth-straight tournament title with a 71-49 triumph over Indian Creek. He hit 10 of 20 from the floor and 13 of 15 from the line, while grabbing four rebounds, passing for six assists and swiping a trio of steals.