Panthers three-peat champions reunite

January 12, 2017

By David Nordby The Brillion News

REEDSVILLE – Al Peters led a high school dynasty leading Reedsville to three straight Olympian Conference championships from 1976-1978.

Those three Panthers teams were honored at Saturday’s home game against Chilton at halftime and it brought the largest crowd that the boys have had at a basketball game this season. It was the first time the players had been fully reunited in the nearly 40 years since.

The halftime ceremony was special with Peters, who coached the team for 16 seasons from 1963-1979, introducing his former players individually. Peters’ speech, which encompassed much humor from him, also included an emotional remembrance of three teammates who have passed away.

“These champions will be missed but never forgotten by their teammates and their coach,” Peters said.

Mike Wenzel, who passed away in November 1990 and played college basketball at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, was represented by his father Harold Wenzel. John O’Hearn, who passed away on October 6, 2011, was represented by his son John. Randy Kupsh, who passed away on November 29, 2013, was represented by his brother Dan.

“We’ve got guys looking down on us so it puts it in perspective,” Jef Radtke said.

History makers

The three-peat champions made their legacy and did something never done before in school history, though at the time they didn’t have the same perspective on it as now.

“I look on the banner on the wall now and say ‘Wow, that’s never happened before, shoot that’s pretty neat,’ but at the time I never gave it much thought,” Paul Prochnow said.

Eleven of the 17 players were on the team for multiple seasons posting conference records of 11-3, 12-2 and 12-2. Two players, Radtke and Vern Rusch were on all three.

One of the areas of the team’s pride is the competitive conference they played in at the time.

“This was the old Olympian Conference,” Peters said, pointing out their rivalries with Brillion, Hilbert, Mishicot, Valders, Denmark, Freedom and Wrightstown.

The team was predicted to finish near the middle of the conference at the start of the 1975-76 season. The Panthers finished with a 13-6 overall record and averaged 67 points per game.

“We weren’t expected to win … the next year when we were expected to win that was tougher,” Prochnow said.

The 1976-77 team was led by the size of Rusch and Prochnow, who ended his Reedsville career with 995 points. The repeat champions still hold the school record for finishing the season with 51.5% field goal percentage. They finished with a 19-3 overall record and fell in the state championship game to Oostburg.

The following season the team finished 16-3 overall. Radtke passed the 1,000-point career mark during the season and earned the conference’s Most Valuable Player award. Gary Brochtrup finished third in the conference in scoring and was named all-conference.

The team also broke another school record – making 71.2% of their free throws, which they used to close out many close games.

Over the three seasons the Panthers compiled an overall record of 48-12 and went 35-7 in the conference.

Like Wenzel, Prochnow and Radtke went on to play college basketball attending UW-Stevens Point.

Please see the complete story in the January 12, 2017 edition of The Brillion News. 

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