1957 Negaunee Miners Class B
Basketball State Champions
Honored Friday, February 10, 2017
Negaunee WELCOMED HOME their 1957 State Basketball Championship team prior to the Ishpeming-Negaunee basketball game on Friday night, February 10th. The Miners surprised everyone going the distance under a new coach and only one returning starter. The following members of that team, the cheerleaders and family members of deceased players were recognized and honored. They included Reverend Doug Niemi, Bill Hyry, Paul Jandron, Dan Maki, Donald Larson, Tom Anderson and Doctor Rodney Bessolo. Cheerleaders included Laura (Maki) Jandron and Elaine (Tessmer) Nirva. Representing deceased members included Jack Fredrickson’s daughter, Stacy Lander; Bill Bond’s son David Bond; June Wales representing her husband Richard Ellis; and Coach Jack Taylor’s son, Brad Taylor. Members unable to attend were Marty Isaacson, Bill Kokko, Bob Manske and Russ Jacka as well as cheerleader, Jean Leveillie. Deceased players from that team not represented included Joe Lucci, Wayne Jarvi; assistant coaches, Dominic Ghiardi and Lodie Morris; and deceased cheerleaders Julia (Parkkonen) Kolar, Barbara (Roos) Bancroft, and Virginia (Karki) Henthorne. The players were greeted by Negaunee high school students at an assembly, followed by a luncheon held in the Fellowship Hall at Immanuel Lutheran Church and a final tribute and introduction as a prelude to the varsity game.
Roland “Foo” Koski spent over a year organizing this event coordinating with the Negaunee Historical Society and the Negaunee Public Schools. He was only 12 years old during that 1956-57 basketball season and he had a rather unique hobby. He took score of every single game that season in his own scorebook of which he still possesses.
High-lights from that Championship Season
Reflecting back during that unexpected State Championship season, it should be noted that the Miners had just an 11-5 regular season record. With a new coach and only one returning starter, this feat was unbelievable. Interestingly, the Miners were tested time after time during the season. They were involved in many exciting close games and were becoming “battle ready”. The Miners lost both regular season games to Ishpeming – once in sudden-death overtime and then again in overtime. Back then, after being tied after overtime, a second overtime was played and the first team to score was victorious. They defeated Marquette 61-60 on a last second basket by Paul Jandron whereas it was reported that none of fans knew for sure whether or not the basket would count. The Miners lost a game to Stephenson 67-66 on a basket from beyond mid-court at the buzzer. They made history by being the first Miner team to play a regular season game downstate whereas they upset an undefeated Class A Traverse City team 62-58 making 28 of 36 free throws.
Negaunee overcame those two heart-breaking regular season overtime losses and defeated Ishpeming 48-41 for the District championship, the U. P. championship over Stephenson 61-59 after trailing by 10 points in the first quarter. “Joe Lucci, with ice-water in his veins” made 2 free throws with six seconds remaining in the Miners 65-64 major upset win over Big Rapids in the quarterfinal game at Petoskey. They defeated Lansing Resurrection 63-52 in the semi-final after trailing by 11 points at one time. The Miners then defeated Harper Woods, which was undefeated and riding a 25-game winning streak, in that memorable 68-66 championship game.