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home : columns : columns
June 2, 2020


3/18/2020 4:20:00 PM
Eagles have had several exceptional basketball seasons

While researching Windom's back-to-back District 7 championship seasons of 1955 and 1956, I have become quite interested in learning more about several other exceptional Eagle teams.
Among those are the 1938 and 1945 squads, which won District 7 titles, a regional semifinal game and came within one game - losing in the Region 2 championship clash - of playing in the state tournament. The '38 team finished 17-5 with a 22-20 loss to Luverne and the '45 squad was 19-4, dropping an 18-11 decision to Mankato.
Prior to that, the Eagles did play - by invitation - in the 1918 state tournament. Learning more about that is going to take some additional research.
Both the '38 and '45 teams were coached by long-time physical education instructor John Bell, who stayed on and taught physical education in Windom until the early 1970s, coaching tennis along the way.
Following a stellar 16-4 campaign in '46-47, Bell turned over the basketball coaching duties to Rollie DeLapp for the '47-48 school year and the Luverne native - who led the Cardinals with 11 points in that regional title victory over the '38 Eagles - had exceptional teams at Windom in both '48-49 and '50-51, going 17-5 and 15-3 those two seasons. Neither of those squads was able to win a district tournament, which was dominated during those years by Mt. Lake. DeLapp left Windom in 1952 and coached for many years at Minneapolis Patrick Henry.
Pete Vujovich coached five seasons and guided the Eagles to those back-to-back District 7 championships in '54-55 and '55-56, going 33-10 (18-4 and 15-6) during those two campaigns. The '55 Eagles were featured in the January 29 issue of the Citizen.
Successful 1960s
Windom's 1962 squad won District 7 and defeated Pipestone in the regional semifinals, but was stopped short of a state-tournament berth in the finals by Wells, led by future Eagle football coach Ron Meyer.
Those '62 Eagles were coached by Slayton High School graduate Jed Dommeyer (Class of 1951), who had a stellar career with the Minnesota Gophers and was drafted in the fourth round by the NBA Cincinnati Royals. Dommeyer left Windom for Northfield following the 1963 season.
Mankato native Dick Beetsch, assisted by former Jeffers head coach Jon Falgren, guided the Eagles during the next four seasons and the 1966 Eagles did something the 1938, 1945 and 1962 teams were not able to do - win the Region 2 championship game.
After losing twice during the regular season to the Marty Jorgensen-led Worthington Trojans, Windom came up big at Mankato State's Highland Arena and advanced to the elite one-class state tournament with a dominating 68-45 victory over the Trojans. Following a one-point loss to eventual champion Edina, the Eagles won a pair of state-tournament games and finished a memorable season with a 22-4 record and a huge consolation trophy.
The Kelly years
Beetsch left Windom for Red Wing following the 1967 season and Jack Kelly - who had been Dommeyer's assistant from '59-63 - began his long tenure (25 seasons) as Windom's high school boys' basketball coach.
Kelly coached a trio of state-tournament teams (1973, 1976 and 1980) and won numerous Southwest Conference and District 7 championships. The '73 squad won 25 games, the '76 team brought home the third-place trophy from the state tournament, and the 1980 squad claimed consolation honors. Kelly had a pair of teams (1972 and 1988) come within one game of a state-tournament berth. In 1996, Kelly was honored with selection to the Minnesota High School Boys' Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.
Thirty years later
Thirty years later, in exciting fashion, the Eagles won the 2010 Section 3AA championship (63-62 over Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop) and Windom was state-tournament bound once again. Tony Taylor was Windom's first-year coach that memorable season with the same group of boys that had advanced to the sectional finals the previous year, coached by Corey Christopher. The Eagles came close - very close - to repeating in 2011, being nipped in a four-overtime thriller by Redwood Valley (60-58) in the Section 3AA finals, finishing the season with a stellar 23-6 record after going 19-8 the previous year.
In summary, Windom has played in six state tournaments (1918, 1966, 1973, 1976, 1980 and 2010), while coming up just one game short a total of seven times (1938, 1945, 1962, 1972, 1988, 2009 and 2011).
Windom's only undefeated team throughout an entire regular season was the '41-42 squad, coached by Bell, which won all 15 of its games before being upset by . . . you guessed it, Mt. Lake (27-26) in the District 7 semifinals. The Eagles bounced back with a big win over Lakefield (42-29) to claim consolation honors (they used to do that in the district tournament up until the early '50s) and finished with a 16-1 overall record.
The 1945 squad had two doctors' sons - Harold Stratte and Harold Basinger - as its two leading scorers. Among the accomplishments of that team was a New Year's Day championship of a four-team tournament at Brewster, which also featured Worthington and Lakefield - the two teams Windom beat to win the tourney.
Girls' success, too
Windom's girls had their best season ever in 2003-04, winning 23 of 27 games before a two-point loss (56-54) to Jackson County Central in the 3AA South Sub-Section finals. The Eagle girls were District 7 runner-ups in 1981, 1988 and 1989 and were Sub-Section 9 runner-ups in 1996.
This past season, the Eagles had Windom fans catching "tournament fever" again, winning their first sub-section championship and reaching the Section 3A championship game for the first time - coming within one game of qualifying for their first-ever state tournament.







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