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Little Ten Conference Boys Basketball Tournament History

1955 Tournament
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Earlville, Bennett Capture LTC Tournament Title

 

First Championship for Red Raiders since 1938

Earlville and their first-year head coach Harold Bennett won the Little Ten Tournament Championship with a 58-56 victory over Somonauk.  The tournament was held in Shabbona High School’s new gymnasium and saw its share of blowouts and nail-bitters. 

 

The Red Raiders easily defeated Hinckley in their first round game by the score of 82-35 to put them into the semifinals.  There they meet the host Indians and in a hard fought contest walked away with a 66-54 win and a spot in the title game.  In the championship contest, Earlville and Somonauk battled in a see-saw battle with the Red Raiders eventually squeaking out a 58-56 win to earn their first LTC Tournament title in 16 years.

 

Somonauk reached the final game by first winning over a tough Plano squad by the count of 65-55.  In the semifinals, the Bobcats took advantage of Leland’s shooting woes to take a 58-51 victory and a trip to the championship game.  Leland had just two days earlier upset defending champion Waterman after defeating Paw Paw in the opening round.

 

(Record in parentheses is conference record entering tournament)

 

FIRST ROUND:

 

LELAND 69, PAW PAW 32

 

The Panthers out-scored Paw Paw 43-14 in the second half to advance easily.  For Leland (2-3), it was the third win of the season over Coach John Bednarcik’s Bulldogs.  Chuck Cox led Leland with 22 points, while Vern Morel added 19.  John Torman paced Paw Paw (1-4) with nine points.

 

SHABBONA 91, SANDWICH 49

 

Shabbona, behind their home crowd, led Sandwich at half 52-15 in a fouled filled game.  Dick Landers and Jack DeNert led Shabbona (3-2) with 27 points each.  Junior Dave Allen had a team-high 17 points for Sandwich (2-3).

 

SECOND ROUND

 

LELAND 76, WATERMAN 50

 

Leland extended their 17-14 first quarter advantage to a 16 point (36-20) cushion by halftime over Waterman, undefeated in loop play and the LTC co-leaders.  Head coach Joe Newton’s Wolverines (5-0) were the tournament’s defending champions, but were unable to get back into the game in the second half.  Chuck Cox amassed 29 points while controlling the boards throughout the game.  Teammate Vern Morel added 25, while Waterman was led by Wayne Maxfield’s 14 points.  ALL-LTC guard Ken Peterson, who ended the season fifth in league scoring, was in foul trouble from the onset and finished with just six points. 

 

SOMONAUK 65, PLANO 55

 

In what was reported as a rough and tumble game, (with a pair of players being ejected in the final seven seconds) the Bobcats (4-1) out-scored coach Clarence Bradley’s Reapers 20-12 in the pivotal third quarter to help them advance.  Gordon Jelm had a game-high 23 points for the winners and ALL-LTC guard Ray Cook added 16.  Dennis Sorenson scored a team-high 17 for Plano (1-4), Bobby Baker chipped in with 15.

 

EARLVILLE 82, HINCKLEY 35

 

The Red Raiders (5-0) out-scored Hinckley 53-17 in the middle two quarters to win easily over head coach Curt Sharp’s winless Hawks (0-5).  Bob Coffey and Jerry Tuftie with 19 and 18 points respectively led the winners, while Ron Reingardt with 12 points was high man for Hinckley.

 

SHABBONA 75, SERENA 68

 

In a thrilling back-and-forth affair in which both clubs played without their top scoring centers for much of the second half, Shabbona and head coach Bill Bradley advanced with a hard fought 75-68 victory.  Big man Jack DeNert shrugged off foul trouble to net a game-high 22 points, while teammates Dick Landers and Gary Wetzel added 17 and 16 respectively.  Serena’s ALL-LTC center Don Mundorff, who fouled out with 2:44 left in the contest, scored 20 points for the Huskers.  Jerry Donahue led head coach Frank McQuade’s Serena club with 21 points, Paul Arenson had 18 in the loss.

 

SEMI-FINALS

 

EARLVILLE 66, SHABBONA 54

 

Shabbona started strong and led 16-15 after one period and 28-24 at halftime.  Earlville put together a strong third fram as they out-pointed the tournament host Indians 22-15 to take a 46-43 advantage heading to quarter number four.  The Red Raiders out-scored Shabbona 20-11 in the final stanza to advance to the finals.  Roger Cantlin and ALL-LTC forward Bud Swayze led Earlville with 22 points each.  High-scoring center Jack DeNert was high man for Shabbona with 26 points.

 

SOMONAUK 58, LELAND 51

 

Leland, who defeated defending champ Waterman in the second round, struggled with their shooting all game long giving Somonauk a decisive advantage.  The Panthers led just once, 14-13 early on before Somonauk took control.  Somonauk led 29-22 at halftime and the teams played even over the second half.  Ray Cook led Somonauk with 21 points, while Bob Shaffer netted 14, Gordon Jelm 11.  Leland was led by ALL-LTC forward Chuck Cox’s 21 points.

 

THIRD PLACE GAME

 

LELAND 72, SHABBONA 60

 

Coach Conan Smith’s Panthers trailed 30-23 at halftime, but rallied to defeat Shabbona and capture third place honors.  Jim Elliott and Chuck Cox led Leland with 21 points each.  Dick Landers paced the Indians with a game-high 22 points, while Jack DeNert added 18.  DeNert and Cox each totaled 93 points in four tournament games.

 

CHAPIONSHIP GAME

 

EARLVILLE 58, SOMONAUK 56

 

In a contest in which the lead changed hands more than a dozen times, Earlville won their first tournament title since 1938, with a nip-and-tuck 58-56 victory over  a taller Somonauk club.

 

The Bobcats jumped out to a 7-1 lead only see Earlville come to life and take a 19-13 lead after one quarter of play.  Somonauk, at one point during the second period, sliced the disadvantage to one, but still trailed 30-26 at the intermission.  The lead changed hands a few times during the third frame as Earlville held a slim 42-40 advantage entering the final quarter.  With the score knotted at 46 all, Earlville center Wayne Torman swished a pair of baskets to give the Red Raiders a lead they would never relinquish.  Earlville built the lead 58-53 late in the contest, but Bobcat Gordon Jelm scored and was fouled with 11 seconds remaining.  After converting the free toss the Bobcats still trailed 58-56 and unfortunately were unable to even get a tying shot towards the hoop before the final whistle blew.

 

Captain Bud Swayze led Earlville with 18 points, Torman added 16.  Jelm took game-high honors with 24, Bob Shaffer chipped in 14 in a losing cause.

 

*-Somonauk head coach Gerald Anderson and Earlville head coach Harold Bennett were both in their first years at their respective schools.

 

1955 Little Ten Conference Final Standings

 

(overall)                W      L     PCT.

Earlville (22-6)         9      0    1.000

Somonauk (21-5)          8      1     .889

Waterman (14-10)         6      3     .667

Serena (19-9)            6      3     .667

Leland (17-11)           5      4     .556

Shabbona (12-12)         4      5     .444

Plano (10-16)            3      6     .333

Sandwich (8-13)          3      6     .333

Paw Paw (4-14)           1      8     .111

Hinckley (0-21)          0      9     .000

 

Little Ten Coaches: Harold Bennett (Earlville), Dick Giles (Sandwich), Gerald Anderson (Somonauk), Frank McQuade (Serena), Conan Smith (Leland), John Bednarcik (Paw Paw), Bill Bradley (Shabbona), Joe Newton (Waterman), Clarence Bradley (Plano), Curt Sharp (Hinckley).