Reedsville's 1946 Basketball Win
"The biggest little school in Wisconsin high school basketball history, Reedsville's state championship aggregation, went back to home folks Sunday as conquering heroes...", wrote Joe Dommershausen for the Madison State Journal, following Reedsville's 1946 State Basketball Championship win. Newspapers from across the state shared the news of Reedville's "David and Goliath" triumph as the small community celebrated its championship team.
The Reedsville team, lead by Coach John Gable, ended their regular season with 19 wins and 2 losses. Players included Sophomore Henry Behnke, Senior Leroy Eichhorst, Senior Bernard Kubale, Senior Roman Kugle, Junior Karl Maertz, Junior James Ottlein, Senior Reuben Rusch, Senior Carlos Prochnow, Senior Ed Shimon, and Sophomore Harvey Waack.
Reedsville tied with Kimberly for the Little Nine Conference Championship. "More than 800 fans jammed their way into the Reedsville High School gym last night to see Coach Gable's quintet take a 13-4 first quarter lead over Kimberly, and then turn back the invaders 42-38 in a rip-snorting ball game...", described the Manitowoc Herald Times on February 8, 1946.
The team went on to win the District and Regional Playoffs. They then went on to defeat Neenah and Peshtigo at Sectionals. At state, Reedsville beat Racine Park and Wisconsin Rapids before turning to their final opponent, Eau Claire.
It was estimated that over 13,000 fans were in attendance at the University of Wisconsin field house for the state championship, most of whom spent the game cheering for Reedsville to become Wisconsin’s successful underdog. Those who were not able to come to Madison were glued to the radio. WOMT was able to broadcast the game.
Reedsville and Eau Claire were tied at 39-39 with 4 minutes to play in the final when the Panthers took control. "Four minutes to make history - four minutes to make Reedsville the most talked about team in Wisconsin high school basketball history or to be relegated to the ranks of gallant but soon forgotten runner ups", described the Madison State Journal.
"The answer wasn't long in coming. Simon broke that deadlock with a free throw on Ken May's foul, and then Kubale hit on a long-high arched shot from the side of the court. Bugle made a free throw, and then Shimon slapped home a rebound shot that matters pretty safe at 45-39."
Reedsville defeated Eau Claire 48 to 39. They were the first Class C school to win the WIAA championship with Class A and B schools. The team was welcomed home to a celebration. Village residents and a Reedsville fire truck led the champions through the streets to the high school gym. Most of the town's 729 residents took part in celebrations at the gym, before going to Reif's Mills for a dinner. Father Koutnick from St. Mary Church in Reedsville, Commander Koch of the Joseph Gosz American Legion Post, the 21 piece Reedsville band, and proud family members were all in attendance.
Marquette coach Bill Chandler spoke at the celebration and shared that "no longer would a small school feel it didn't have a chance to win a state championship. Reedsville had proved that it could be done with 87 students."