Little Ten Conference Boys Basketball Tournament History

1981 Tournament
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The top-seeded Huskers and their head coach Al Stegman won their second straight championship. Serena, who Stegman admitted were slow starters, used second half rallies in each of their victories first over Leland (64-37), then Waterman (57-48) in the semifinals and finally a 58-52 win over rival Newark. The champions used tremendous teamwork and seemed to have different players step up in each game to help them lift the championship trophy. Stegman stepped down from his coaching duties at the end of the season, leaving an undeniable mark on Serena basketball and the Little Ten.

The Norsemen reached the title game with wins over Somonauk (64-52) and Hinckley-Big Rock (72-66) in the semifinals.

Hinckley-Big Rock defeated Waterman 66-64 in the third place game.


The Bulldogs, who had just beaten the Panthers a week earlier, led 10-9 after the first eight minutes, but Leland came back to hold a 21-18 advantage at halftime. John Miller scored eight of his 17 points in the third period for Leland to extend the lead to 33-26. The Panthers then out-scored the Bulldogs 21-20 in the fourth to advance.

Jeff Brown backed Miller’s 17 points with 13 of his own for Leland, while 6-foot-4 sophomore Brad Peterson had 11 points and eight rebounds. For Paw Paw, Eric Rosenwinkel came off the bench to score a team-high 18 points - just back from an ankle injury. Sophomore Drew Anderson added 16 points for the Bulldogs.


The Bobcats looked to have things well in control as they held a 32-point led early in the fourth quarter. The Red Raiders then staged a miraculous fourth period come back to cut the deficit to nine points but even with a 30-12 scoring spread in the final quarter, could not dig themselves out of the hole they had dug for themselves. The Bobcats led 20-13 after one and 47-32 at intermission before putting together a 23-10 third quarter advantage.

The Bobcats were led by 21 points and eight rebounds by Scott McRill. Perry Yoeckel added 17 points, Dan Gundmunson had eight points and 11 rebounds. Somonauk out-rebounded Earlville 46-29. Senior Mark Anderson did everything put mop the floor at halftime as he scored a game-high 34 points for the Red Raiders, Matt Norton was the only other Earlville player in double figures with 11 points.


Waterman led 30-23 at half and extended it to 50-39 after three quarters. Six-foot-6 Ron Hunt led the Wolverines with 26 points and 11 rebounds, as Waterman held a 29-16 rebound advantage in the game. Shabbona was led by Lance Knutson’s 14 points. Steve Brenner added 18 points for Waterman, Doug Vogeler had 10.


The Royals jumped out to a 17-8 first quarter lead and held a 32-24 halftime advantage. Malta made a valiant come back in the fourth period, but in the end came up two points short. Tom Bafia led H-BR with 18 points, Dave Ott added 14 and Tony Ziemba 10. The Mustangs were paced by Mike Engstrom’s 18 points, while Lance Romanski had 15, Steve Siebrasse 13.


Serena led 15-7 after the opening eight minutes and 31-17 at the intermission. The Huskers, who hit on 55-percent of their shots from the field, extended the advantage to 51-27 heading to the fourth frame. The winners held a 33-24 edge on the boards and held the Panthers to just 15-of-55 from the floor in the contest.

“Man that’s a tenacious defense,” Leland head coach James Reed told the Ottawa Times following the game. “I’d heard a lot about it, now I found out first hand. His (Stegman’s) kids help out so well. We just couldn’t get any good shots. He’s got those kids well drilled.”

The Huskers were paced by Greg Kosobud’s 17 points. Rich Rosengren and Huston Bailey netted 12 points each, while Curt Whiteaker grabbed 10 rebounds. Leland’s Darren Agler came off the bench to score a game-high 18 points.


Somonauk held a 18-15 first quarter lead, but the Bobcats hit just 3-of-12 shots in the second eight minutes and trailed the Norsemen 27-26 at half. Mike Shields, Newark’s 6-foot-5 senior forward, scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half, which included three straight hoops midway through the third quarter to give the Norsemen the lead for good.

Brian Schluntz and Brian Johnson each had 14 points to back Shields. Somonauk was led by Scott McRill’s 16 points, Perry Yoeckel had 10. Dan Gundmuson added a solid inside game with nine points and 14 rebounds. Shields also grabbed a game-high 15 boards to lead all players.

Semifinals notes:

Serena/Waterman: Serena defeated Waterman earlier in the season 49-44 at Waterman. The game was a anticipated match up with 6-foot-6 centers, Serena’s Rich Rosengren and Waterman’s Ron Hunt facing off.

Newark/Hinckley-Big Rock: Newark beat the Royals at Hinckley just before Christmas 74-73.



Waterman led by as many as 10 points well into the third quarter. Serena head coach Al Stegman ordered up a full-court man press, which forced the Wolverines into some turnovers and Rich Rosengren (with help from teammates) stymied Waterman center Ron Hunt in the fourth period. The Huskers out-pointed Waterman in the fourth 21-8 to give them the victory.

Greg Kosobud’s three-point play with 3:53 to play gave his team the lead and that is when Stegman switched to a zone defense, packing in around Hunt to limit his touches.

“That was the best zone we played all year there when we got the lead,” Stegman told the Ottawa Times after the game. “We were just too antsy in the first half and committed some stupid fouls.”

Rosengren led Serena with 21 points and six rebounds, 15 of those points coming in the pivotal second half. Kosobud added 12 points (eight in the fourth quarter). Hunt was a one-man wrecking crew through three quarters and ended with game highs in points (25) and rebounds (11).

Waterman hit 52-percent of their shots, compared to Serena’s 47%, but the Huskers had 20 more attempts (53-to-33).


The Royals, the No. 3 seed, led the second-seeded Norsemen 18-13 after one period and then increased it into a 37-27 advantage at halftime.

Mike Shields, Newark’s top scorer, picked up his third foul with over five minutes left in the second quarter and did not return until midway through the third.

“I was hoping it (H-BR’s lead) wouldn’t get over ten points because we are a second half team,” Shields told the Ottawa Times of his thoughts while on the bench for that long stretch. “It only takes a matter of minutes for us to make up 10 points. But I was scared.”

Hinckley-Big Rock extended their led following Shields return to the hardwood to 13 points, but the Norsemen were able to slice the margin to 55-49 heading to the final frame.

“I told the kids two things at halftime,” Newark head coach Chuck Nelson told the Ottawa Times. “Number one, we had to apply pressure defensively, and two, we had to start shooting the ball.”

Newark struggled shooting the ball all game (33-percent), but hit on 13-of-19 free throws during the fourth quarter. Norsemen Mark Anderson swished a free throw with 5:08left to tie the game at 60-all. Kevin Martin and Shields each converted a free throw and then John Hipsman tallied a pair to give Newark a 64-60 lead. The Royals weren’t about give up and trailed just 66-64 with 44 seconds remaining.

Shields rebounded his own miss with 19 clicks left on the clock and was fouled. The senior made both free tosses and the Norsemen held on for the victory.

Hipsman led all scorers with 20 points for the Norsemen. Shields added 18 points, 11 in the pivotal fourth quarter. H-BR were paced by Tom Bafia and Dave Ott who each netted 18 points, Tony Ziemba chipped in 15 points in the loss.



Hinckley-Big Rock’s Tom Bafia nailed a 20-footer with one second remaining to give the Royals the victory and third place honors over Waterman.



Husker guard Huston Bailey scored a game-high 21 points, including seven of Serena’s last 10 points of the game to lead them to the six-point win. It was the third title for Serena in the last ten years.

“I had the hot hand, I felt pretty good,” said Bailey to the Ottawa Times. “I knew when Rosengren got into foul trouble (three fouls in the first quarter) the rest of us had to play a lot harder.”

The huge effort offset a tough game for center Rich Rosengren who battled foul trouble and ended with a mere two points. Bailey, who didn’t even play his junior year, hurt Newark from both the outside and inside. His assist on Rosengren’s only basket with 1:36 left in the game gave Serena the lead for good at 54-52.

“We never took advantage of Rosengren’s foul trouble,” said Newark head coach Chuck Nelson to the Ottawa Times. “I don’t think we got our fast break going all night. And if we don’t get into our running game, we don’t win. We played poorly and you can’t play poorly against a team like Serena.”

The confident Bailey then swished a baseline shot with just over a minute to go on the game clock and then sealed the victory with a free throw at the 22 second mark.

Serena head coach Al Stegman wasn’t to worried at halftime, although his club trailed 31-26 and his star center saddled with three fouls.

“It’s like Harry Caray says, ‘Big possums walk late’, Stegman told the Ottawa Times. “We’re just a second half club, I don’t know why, I really don’t. It’s nothing I say at half. I never chew their butts.”

Newark star and all-state candidate Mike Shields had 20 points on 7-of-13 form the field and 6-of-6 from the foul line. John Hipsman added 15 points and 11 rebounds, Bruce Johnson had 13 points as the Norsemen hit 40-percent of their shots from the floor. Newark also played without sophomore star Scott Anderson (18 points a game average) who broke his wrist before Christmas and was hoped to be ready come regional time.

Along with Bailey’s game-high 21 points, Greg Kosobud had 12 points, Curt Whiteaker had a double-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds. Serena hit a respectable 49.1 percent from the field.


SERENA (58) - Whiteaker 5-10 1-2 11, DeCoursey 0-0 1-2 1, Rosengren 1-5 0-2 2, Kosobud 6-13 0-0 12, Bailey 10-17 1-3 21, Larson 2-6 2-2 6, Ballard 2-2 1-2 5. Totals 26-53 6-13 58.

NEWARK(52) - Chally 1-4 1-2 3, Schluntz 0-9 0-0 0, M. Shields 7-13 6-6 20, Hipsman 6-14 3-5 15, B. Johnson 6-9 1-2 13, Martin 0-0 1-3 1, M. Anderson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-50 12-18 52.

Serena (13-2) 9 17 20 12 - 58

Newark (14-3) 11 20 13 8 - 52

Total fouls (none fouled out) - Serena 15, Newark 10.


LTC Top 3 Scorers

Rich Rosengren, Serena    23.9

Mike Shields, Newark      23.5

Ron Hunt, Waterman        23.0


1981 Little Ten Conference Final Standings

                      W   L

Serena                9   0

Newark                7   2

Waterman              7   2

Somonauk              6   3

Hinckley-Big Rock     5   4

Shabbona              4   5

Malta                 3   6

Leland                2   7

Earlville             1   8

Paw Paw               1   8