50 YEARS AGO: New England St. Mary's boys basketball team wins Class B State title


March 20, 2020 7:45 am

NEW ENGLAND, N.D. – By the time the 1970s rolled around, the New England St. Mary’s boys basketball team was a regular participant in the North Dakota High School Activities Association’s Class B State Tournament. The Saints qualified in 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968 and were back again in 1970 with a purpose.

Joining the Saints at the 1970 state tournament played at the Minot Auditorium were Beulah, Jud, Oakes, Northwood, Columbus, Munich and Belcourt.

St. Mary’s and Beulah opened the tournament’s quarterfinal round. The Saints, coached by Dave Wolsky, built an early lead and hung on to defeat the Miners 66-51. St. Mary’s senior forward Dick Ryan led all scorers with 22 points. Senior guard Les Schroeder and sophomore center Gerard Baker added 18 and 15 points, respectively for the Saints, who would advance to the state semifinals for the third time in six seasons.

In the semifinals, St. Mary’s would meet Oakes, who had bested previously undefeated Jud in the quarterfinals. Schroeder paced the Saints with 35 points as St. Mary’s topped the Tornadoes 74-61. The Saints were in their first Class B state title game since 1962.

Belcourt would be the Saints’ opposition in the championship. The title game went down to the wire. In the final 30 seconds of play, Schroeder hit a 10-foot jump shot to tie the game and later got a free-throw to fall with seven seconds remaining to give the Saints a 54-53 come-from-behind win. Belcourt had taken an eight-point lead into the fourth quarter and led 45-35 with six minutes, 20 seconds left to play, but St. Mary’s was able to chip away and ultimately overtake the Braves.

St. Mary’s junior forward Larry Gardner led all scorers with 18 points giving the Saints three different leading scorers in their three games at the state tournament.

Following the championship game, Schroeder was named the state tournament’s most valuable player. St. Mary’s finished the season with a 24-3 record.

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