Golden anniversaries can mean blowing the dust off the family album, which is what we're doing in the next two weeks to celebrate the Metro Conference holiday basketball tournament's milestone season.
Beginning today with the schools that no longer are conference members, all-time starting fives for every school that has been in the league have been selected. Starting Friday, you'll see two schools a day through the Dec. 28 start of this season's tournament at Millard South. The order of schools will correspond to the tournament's first-round matchups, beginning with Papillion-La Vista and Millard South.
That's a lead-up to the celebration of the Metro's all-time 10 best players. They are being invited to a ceremony at halftime of the boys championship game at 8 p.m. on Jan. 3 at the Civic Auditorium as the tournament returns to its birthplace (isn't that fitting for a golden anniversary?) for possibly the last time.
Longtime conference coaches and administrators have been consulted in the selections of the all-time 10 and also in many instances for the all-school fives.
As it worked out, the all-time 10 all will come from the ranks of multi-year all-tournament selections. Six players have been all-tournament three times, and 32 were two-time selections.
For history buffs, the tournament started in December 1962 as the Intercity League Holiday Tournament at the Civic with eight of the nine league teams: Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln, Benson, Central, Creighton Prep, North, South, Tech and Westside. Lincoln High, the ninth member, wasn't part of it.
As retired school administrator Jack Hallstrom tells it, he came up with the idea of a holiday tournament after what he'd seen the previous Christmas break while athletic director at Benson.
“(Coach) Scotty Orcutt had three practices each day Benson was in recess,” Hallstrom said. “I tried to tell him that the players couldn't stand that stress.”
The Intercity League changed into the Metro Conference in 1964-65, but the tournament kept the same eight teams while new members played in another event. For two years, it was called the OPS Holiday Tournament, with the then-six OPS high schools inviting Prep and Westside to fill out the bracket.
It finally became a true league holiday tournament in 1967-68 with the inclusion of Boys Town, Ryan, Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, Bellevue High School and Rummel. Ralston was invited for two years before it was a Metro school, and McCook took Ralston's place for two more.
Are you wondering why this is a boys-only celebration? The girls tournament didn't start until the 1975-76 season. So hang tight for another 13 seasons until another golden anniversary.
As you start to dissect the selections, feel free to let me know where your lists differ from mine. A follow-up column is sure to come out of this.
Contact the writer:
402-444-1041, firstname.lastname@example.org; twitter.com/stuOWH
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Stu Pospisil's all-time teams for former Metro Conference schools, with selections restricted to when the school played in the Metro's holiday tournament (seasons noted):
Boys Town (1967-68 to 1973-74)
Tyrone Pryor*, 1970
Don Hurley*, 1972
x-Fred Anzures*, 1973
Otha Carnute*, 1974
Victor Steele, 1968
CB Abraham Lincoln (1962-63 to 1964-65, 1967-68 to 1972-73, 1974-75 to 1994-95)
Rick Drennen*, 1971
Kevin Sigler*, 1971
Kevin Nixon*, 1988
Bob Anderson, 1968
Bruce Chubick Sr., 1969
CB Thomas Jefferson (1967-68 to 1972-73, 1974-75 to 1994-95)
Randy Worth, 1971
Dave Lamphear, 1974
Bob Knezevich, 1975
Bob Higgins, 1975
Ward Prine, 1982
Omaha Gross (1975-76 to 1994-95)
Frank Kobza*, 1978
x-Gary Blum*, 1980
Tim Adamek, 1985
Tim Brotzki, 1988
D.J. DeLeon-Thompson, 1995
Omaha Rummel/Roncalli (1967-68 to 1984-85)
x-Jay Wheeler*, 1972
Ed Burns*, 1973
Dick Arnett, 1968
Jim Reinders, 1978
Craig Putnam, 1979
Omaha Ryan (1967-68 to 1982-83)
y-Larry Vaculik*, 1974
x-Jim Honz*, 1977
Joe Farrell, 1981
Tom Meyers, 1971
Hugo Gray, 1977
Omaha Tech (1962-63 to 1983-84)
Fred Hare*, 1963
x-John Mackey*, 1965
Ernie Britt*, 1968
x-Victor Jordan*, 1978
Johnny Rodgers, 1969
Ralston (1968-69, 1969-70, 1977-78 to 1994-95)
Chris Dahl*, 1992
Mitch Mosser*, 1993
Sean Nemec, 1979
Steve Peterson, 1980
Dusty Dubbs, 1995
» All-tournament selections in marked by asterisk; x — two-time selection; y —three-time selection. Players' graduation year listed in parentheses.