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MHS wins state championship in 1963

March 4, 2013
By Ellayne Conyers , Marshall Independent

Part X:

A special to the Minneapolis Star wrote: "MARSHALL'S ROAD HOME PAVED WITH GLORY - CHAMPIONS ARE CHEERED BY ENTHUSIASTIC CROWDS Marshall, Minn. - The penalties of popularity delayed the state championship basketball team for its own homecoming celebration here Sunday.

Residents in a burst of enthusiasm had started decorating the community at 1 a.m. Sunday, but enthusiasts in other communities along Highway 19 made plans from roadside celebrations as the Marshall team rode home in four sedans properly decorated by their rooting section at Saturday night's winning game. The team started home at noon. Word was flashed to the local celebration committee, and hurried plans were made for a celebration to start at 2:30 p.m.

At Morton, hometown of Coach Glenn Mattke; Redwood Falls, a regional rival; Belview and Milroy, good will spilled over onto the highway.

Fire trucks, police cars and caravans of citizenry met the team outside each community and escorted it into an improvised stage area where the team was cheered, members were introduced and flowers or other souvenirs presented. Cars from each community stayed with the party and by the time the Marshall cagers reached the edge of their own hometown there were 119 cars threatening to crowd the local Marshall paraders away from their heroes. At 4 p.m. the team reached home to find virtually every resident on hand to cheer them.

Seven convertibles awaited the team at the head of a parade that had been formed on the edge of Marshall by local committeemen. The players were placed in the open cars. Two fire trucks, two police cars and the high school band broke the way through the crowd for them, and then almost every automobile in Marshall fell into line and the caravan that had been made up on the highway followed.

More than 5,000 people lined the streets and stood in clusters on rooftops along Marshall's main business street. Marshall looked different somehow to the seven young men who had left home just before the weekend to seek fame and glory at the state tournament. Since 1 a.m. a huge orange flag bearing the letter M had been waving from the top of the municipal water tower. A 50-foot banner, hastily painted, proclaimed their championship at the intersection in the business district. Every business.

From the book Prairie Town: A History of Marshall, MN, 1872-1997, by John Radzilowski, we read: "Perhaps the most glorious moment in the city's basketball history occurred in 1963, as the Tigers came from behind to win the state basketball title by one point over Cloquet when Dennis "Red" Schroeder made two clutch free throws in a one-and-one situation with 15 seconds left. The University of Minnesota's sports director proclaimed it 'the greatest game I've ever seen two finalists play.' As the final buzzer sounded, Marshall fans poured onto the floor of Williams Arena, while the team's cheerleaders paraded around the court with a banner that read, 'We're From Marshall - Couldn't Be Prouder,' tears running down their cheeks. Returning home from the tournament, the team was met by a massive crowd - the largest gathering in town since the end of World War II - and a parade.'"

Again from an unidentified newspaper source we read: "STATE TITLE MEANS MORE THAN GLORY AND A TROPHY When the Marshall Tigers were ready to go to the basketball regional wars in St. Peter, Coach Glenn Mattke made a little speech to a pep rally. With an apology to the English teachers, Glenn said: 'We ain't goin' down there to lose!'

Just before the Tigers left for the state tournament, Glenn made another speech to the pep rally. And again he said, apologizing to the English teachers: 'We ain't goin' down there to lose!'

Mattke's Tigers didn't lose, as the whole state knows. They proved what many of their supporters had maintained since the Marshall team took their district title - that the Tigers were good enough to go all the way. They proved it under fire, with courageous poise and superb play. They did it under the hardest kind of circumstances, before screaming crowds in the biggest high school tournament in the country.

What does all this mean to Marshall, wonderful as it all is?

It means a great deal. First it means a great deal to Marshall high school and its students. A deservedly proud school now stands considerably prouder. It is established as a power in the state. Never again will a sportswriter ask, in his metropolitan daily column: 'Who are these people?' The whole state knows who 'these people are.'

Will it mean more than basketball glory and supremacy? Of course it will. Every mention of Marshall high school, in no matter what endeavor, will be tied in, in some manner, with that state championship. If not obviously, then subconsciously. And every Marshall student, in whatever activity, will strive to emulate the surpassing performance of their basketball team.

What about the entire school system? The state title proclaims to anyone interested that Marshall schools maintain a vigorous well-administered program that encourages the attainment of excellence in athletics as well as scholastic achievements.

And what will this championship mean to the city of Marshall itself? There are those, probably, who will take a lukewarm attitude about the whole thing. After all, they will say, it is only a game, exciting for a few days but of little lasting meaning.

This is not true. If anyone can think of more valuable publicity for a community than to have the state championship basketball team with all that goes with it, we would like to know what it is. And publicity like this can not be bought.

There is more to the state title a great bunch of kids brought home from Williams arena than just the trophy and the glory. And Marshall will realize it in the future.

But for the moment, perhaps it is enough that the Tigers are the champs. Let's savor that for the time being. And later we can accept what other benefits accrue.

And we have only one thing to say here to the Tigers and their coaches: 'You are the best - the very best!'"

Sources: Darvy Eckness's scrapbook, newspaper from Dennis Schroeder, and my own files, containing articles from the Minneapolis Tribune, The Lyon County Independent and The Tiger Herald.



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