Hillsboro made first trip to state in 1927

The boys of Hillsboro first attended the state tournament in 1927. The team was coached by Isaac H. Balzer. As a young boy, Balzer had played basketball at Buhler High School. In fact he played on the school?s first basketball team in 1916.

Basketball was a ?rough and tumble? game in 1916 and there were numerous rule changes from the game of today. One rule in particular caught my eye: teams did not exchange baskets at halftime. That could present all sorts of possibilities and it seems it did.

In a game between Buhler and Arlington (played at Arlington), it was reported that the fans of Arlington poured water under the Buhler basket, hoping to help ensure that Isaac Balzer and his teammates would slip and fall. That certainly would give new meaning to the phrase ?home court advantage? don?t you think? It must have helped: Arlington won the game.

After high school Balzer attended Bethel College in North Newton. Upon graduation he began his teaching and coaching career and came to Hillsboro. His 1927 team was loaded with both numbers and good size.

?About 35 boys have reported to practice,? wrote the Hillsboro Star. ?The size of the players is good. We could put out an entire team of six-footers but the uncanny ability of making baskets by some of the smaller players and their swiftness can?t be overlooked.?

Abe Toews (6-3), Ted Goertz (6-0) and Gladwin Dyck (6-0) formed an impressive frontline while the outside positions would be manned by the smaller players: Clarence Hiebert, Dan Suderman, Wesley Stelting and Walter Hodel. Only Hiebert and Dyck were returning lettermen off the 1926 team.

As was reported in the Star, White City and Benton were mentioned as the only two schools to beat the Hillsboro five during the 1926 season.

After opening the 1927 season with four-straight wins, Hills?boro was upset by Peabody, 26-15. The game was played in Peabody.

?The boys entered the game overconfident and played some ragged ball,? reported the Hillsboro paper. ?They could not find the basket and their efforts were cut short by the lights going on and off during the ending of the game.?

Hillsboro also struggled with Tampa, losing a close game, 22-20. After the local boys jumped to an early 10-1 lead, Tampa began to claw back into the game. In the final period Hillsboro made several bad passes that led to easy Tampa scores.

With those scores came a noticeable increase in excitement among the fans and players, and with emotions running high, one Tampa player actually fainted on the court. Hillsboro, however, was assessed the timeout while the Tampa player was attended to.

Finally the official scorer got the matter straightened out, but Hillsboro was unable to make any baskets down the stretch and lost by two points.

Lyons also defeated Hillsboro, 36-29, in a game played in Lyons. At the time Lyons was a larger Class A school (Hillsboro was Class B) but the local boys held their own until the final period.

?The game was lost by decisions of the referee, decisions our boys did not like,? reported the Hillsboro Star. ?The boys were also hampered by the basketball goals at Lyons, which were both wobbly and loose.?

Now for some good news: Hillsboro posted impressive wins over Durham, Burns, Hope, Buhler and Marion. They also defeated Tampa, giving the northern neighbor just their first loss in the season. In a second game against Burns, the boys from Hillsboro won, 60-18, as Gladwin Dyck tossed in 34 points. He was a particularly strong scorer and many times topped the 20-point mark.

With a regular season record of 12-5, Hillsboro ventured into the Class B District Tournament in Durham. Joining Hills?boro were White City, Tampa (the top seed), Ramona, Hope, Lincoln?ville, Lost Springs, Rox?bury, Woodbine, Delevan, Walton, Goessel, Moundridge, Burdick, Cedar Point and Durham.

After a bye, Hillsboro defeated Ramona, Tampa and White City to qualify for the Class B State Tournament, which was in Topeka.

The 1927 tournament was a crowded affair as 20 teams were entered. Denton (Doniphan County) was the defending champions of 1926 but had not qualified to return to state. In a preliminary game, Hillsboro defeated Blue Mound (Linn County). They next pushed aside Haven and Sacred Heart (Salina) to reach the semifinals.

Now just four teams remained: Hillsboro, Williams?burg, Chautauqua and Ellis. Hillsboro stayed close but finally lost to Williamsburg by just two points in a tight game. The local boys settled for third place when they defeated Ellis while Chautauqua easily defeated Williamsburg to take the crown.

?Williamsburg looked tired in the title game,? noted one Topeka newspaper. ?The tough game against Hillsboro appeared to have worn them down and they had little left to give against Chautauqua.?

As best as can be determined, Hillsboro ended the year with a record of 19-6. Gladwin Dyck, Clarence Hiebert, Walter Hodel and Abe Toews received all-tournament honors, which in those days was similar to today?s all-state honors. The four very likely are the first boys from Hillsboro High School to receive such prestigious state basketball awards.

From this first trip to state, Hillsboro certainly has not been a stranger at the tournament. The Trojans went to state in 1933, 1948, 1971, 1974, 1983, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Champion?ships were claimed in 1991, 1995 and 1998. Second-place finishes occurred in 1992, 1997 and 1999. Third-place hardware was claimed in 1996, 2003 and 2004. No doubt the school is in need of a gifted carpenter: The trophy case must be nearly full at this point.

Next, we will take a trip to state with the boys of Tampa High School.

? 2011 by Steven Michael Farney. All rights reserved. Ideas, comments or questions: contact smf2guard@yahoo.com

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