A reader flipping through the pages of the La Crosse Tribune on March 4, 1950 might just have missed a great sports action photo buried on Page 10, the back cover. It’s a great photo because it shows real action — and it doesn’t hurt that one of the key players is David D. Hanneman of Mauston High School.
March 1950 was high school basketball tournament time. Mauston High School was one of the host venues for sub-regional tournament play for Wisconsin’s public schools. The action photo was actually from March 3, 1950, the second day of the sub-regionals; a game in which Mauston knocked off Hillsboro 45-37. In the photo, Hillsboro center Allan Wheeler grabs a rebound over the outstretched arm of Hanneman, wearing No. 24 for the Mauston Bluegold. Although he did not score in the contest, Hanneman, the Mauston center, held the prolific scorer Wheeler to just 9 points. Just a day prior, Wheeler scored 22 points in Hillsboro’s loss to La Crosse Central.
Mauston ended its season after going 1-1 at the sub-regional tournament. In the first game on March 2, Tomah stormed back from an 11-point deficit to clip Mauston 40-36. Tomah won the sub-regional title the next day by whipping La Crosse Central 67-47.
This photo from 1948 or 1949 has a classic sports-pose look to it. The varsity basketball squad from Mauston High School looking eagerly at Coach Bob Erickson, who cradles the ball like it’s made of gold. It’s so much more interesting than the stereotypical team photo with athletes lined up in rows.
My father, David D. Hanneman, was a multi-sport, multi-year letter winner at Mauston High School from 1947-1951. It was very common to have multi-sport athletes at small-town high schools. A core of the young men in this photo played basketball together in grade school before moving on to high school junior varsity and varsity play. These same fellows came together with classmates for Mauston High School reunions for more than 55 years. That’s teamwork!
In the 1950-51 basketball season, Mauston advanced to the sub-regional level of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) tournament on March 1 in Tomah. In the first game, Mauston rallied with a 23-point third quarter to defeat Richland Center, 55-53. Tom Rowe led Mauston scorers with 15 points.
In the sub-regional championship game March 2, Mauston ran into a buzzsaw called La Crosse Logan High School. The Bluegold lost big, 72-36. After trailing 8-1 early in the game, Mauston pulled to within five at the end of the firsts period. In the second period, Mauston got as close as three points, 20-17, but then the game got out of hand.
Logan led 29-19 at halftime, according to the game recap in the La Crosse Tribune. At the start of the final quarter, Mauston trailed 50-24. Five Mauston players fouled out of the game. The leading Mauston scorer was Roger Quick with 8 points, while Tom Rowe, Bob Jagoe, Bob Randall and Dave Hanneman each had 5 points. La Crosse Logan made it to the regional tournament finals before losing to Onalaska, 58-56.
One of the best games of that 1950-51 season came on December 19, a 61-42 decision over conference rival Westby. “Big Dave Hanneman had himself a field night for MHS as he hoisted in eight buckets and added four free throws for scoring honors,” read the game recap in The Mauston Star. “Jagoe collected 15 points and Randall had 9 — he scored the first 9 points of the game for MHS.”
Coach Erickson was still fairly new during my Dad’s time at Mauston High School, but he went on to become a legend as a coach and teacher. A 12-time letter winner at Platteville State Teachers College (now UW-Platteville), Erickson was named to the UW-Platteville athletic hall of fame in 1980. He came to Mauston in 1947 after serving in World War II, starting a 13-year tenure at Mauston High School. Erickson coached boxing, basketball, football and baseball. He also served as Mauston’s athletic director. He died in July 2003 at age 82.
It was a basketball season for the ages at Grand Rapids Lincoln High School. After a 14-1 season, the team stormed into the 14th annual Wisconsin state basketball tournament held March 20-22, 1918 at Lawrence College in Appleton. By defeating Columbus (32-25), Marinette (34-25) and Wausau (27-15), Grand Rapids secured its first Wisconsin state championship. Three Rapids players made the All-State team.
In the team photo, back row:
William Smith (1900-1991)
Arthur H. Plahmer (1899-1984)
Coach Elmer J. Abrahamson (1891-1978)
Roy T. “Cap” Normington (1899-1960)
Raymond A. “Jock” Johnston (1900-1977)
In the front row:
Arthur “Worry” Kluge (1898-1974)
Stanley S. “Pudge” Stark (1900-1979)
Walter F. “Kaiser” Fritz (1898-1964)
Stark was the team captain and scoring champion with 205 points. He was named a forward on the All-State team. The other All-State honorees were Plahmer (center) and Smith (guard). The only defeat of the season came at the hands of Nekoosa during sectionals play. The season high score was achieved January 18, 1918 with a 64-12 drubbing of Wautoma. A week later, that same Wautoma team nearly knocked off Rapids before falling 18-16.
The irony of the 1917-1918 season is that the school year started with no basketball coach on the payroll at Lincoln High School. In short order, the services of Elmer J. Abrahamson were secured for the season. A 1915 graduate of Lawrence College, Abrahamson was a star college athlete in basketball, track and the pentathlon. Abrahamson only stayed for the championship season. He went on to a long teaching career in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He died in 1978.
There he was, front and center in the photograph, holding the championship trophy. My Dad, David D. Hanneman and his 8th grade Mauston teammates had just won the 12-team basketball tournament held at Wonewoc in the spring of 1947. It was no small feat, considering the competition from Camp Douglas, Cazenovia, Elroy, Kendall, Lavalle, Necedah, New Lisbon, Ontario, Reedsburg, Union Center and Wonewoc.
The championship team photo includes, rear, left to right: Coach Bob Erickson, Bill Cowan, Morris Murray, Bernard Pelton, Gaylord Nichols, Tom Rowe and Coach Doug McKenzie. Front row, left to right includes: Harold Webster, Bob Firlus, David Hanneman, Bob Beck, Bob Randall and Whitey Post. Although the photo does not show jersey numbers, Dave wore No. 1 that day.
Occasionally prints of this photo will appear on eBay, erroneously listing the team as from Wonewoc. That is understandable given how the photo was hand labeled, but to be clear, the winners were from Mauston.