From the March 22, 1973, Mount Vernon Hawkeye Record Mount Vernon Mustangs take state in 1973
December 21, 2017
Editor's note: An undefeated season for Mount Vernon boys' basketball in 1973 led to them taking the trophy at the state tournament, beating Belmond, Solon and H.L.V. for a 27-0 finish. This was also the first time in more than 50 years Mount Vernon was at the state tournament, nabbing a berth there in 1922.
MUSTANGS STATE CHAMPS
Amidst a crowd of cheering, faithful fans, Mount Vernon mayor Nicholas O. Berry commented on the spirit of the day when he said, "This a great team, great coaches, great victory and great community."
The Mount Vernon Mustangs had just won the state championship in Class A basketball the previous night as Berry addressed the mass of fans at the high school gymnasium in celebration of the return of the team.
It wasn't an easy victory for the Mustangs. A relatively calm game for them, the Mount Vernon squad handily defeated Belmond last Wednesday afternoon in the first round game of the tournament by a score of 73-66.
Mount Vernon's neighbor to the south, Solon, gave the Mustangs a bad time of it, but fell prey to the Mustangs on Friday, 75-56. And, in a game in which the score was neck-in-neck throughout most of the evening, the Mustangs defeated number three-rated H.L.V. Saturday night 67- 64 to remain undefeated, 27-0, and capture the first state crown ever won by a Mount Vernon team.
Well over 100 cars met the returning champions at the Highway 1, Interstate turnoff to Mount Vernon to form a caravan to escort the team home. The Mustangs reached the standing-room-only, packed gymnasium at 2 p.m. They were first greeted by principal Adrian Ringold as the shiny, gold trophy was placed on the podium next to the sportsmanship and champion trophies from the Eastern Iowa Hawkeye Conference.
Ringold spoke a few words of congratulations, after which he turned the microphone over to an emotion-choked coach Robert Landis.
"With the help and support of the cheerleaders and the fans of the community, we, the team and coaches, proudly present the state Class A championship trophy to the school and community of Mount Vernon," Landis exclaimed as he and the team were given a standing ovation.
"The team was dedicated to the game, and had decided long before the season got underway that we'd win the championship," Landis continued. "Mount Vernon has changed from just a town into a community. People are talking to each other, now, who had never talked to each other before.
"The town cheered together, prayed together, and for that, the team and I are grateful to you."
Landis also voiced his gratitude to the cheerleaders for their hard work and dedication throughout the long season. For assistant coach John Thatcher, Landis said, "When the going gets rough, Thatcher yells at the officials." Thatcher's junior varsity squad ended the season conference champions.
Superintendent Winston C. Addis commented that he'd like to see this happen again. Mayor Berry then introduced all of the parents of the players, followed by a reception with cake and punch in the high school commons.
Mrs. Donald Colehour was given a special award by the Mount Vernon cheerleaders for her faithful attendance at all of the Mustang games and general enthusiasm for the team. The only game Mrs. Colehour missed all year was the game at Clinton during the sub-state tournament when she had to undergo major surgery. She was back on her feet the next week to go to the tournament in Des Moines.
Hal Hufford and Jeff Werling were selected on the all-tournament team. Werling has been a co-captain of the team all year along with Dirk Larsen. The other senior graduating is Mark Kerr.
Solon high school defeated Johnston in the consolation game Saturday afternoon to win third place at the tournament. Solon also received the sportsmanship trophy at the tournament.
was community effort
"It was a complete community effort," commented Mrs. Ronald Frantz regarding the activities leading up to Sunday afternoon's celebration for the state champion Mustang basketball team. "I can't even begin to list all of the nice people who helped to organize everything." Mrs. Frantz is the president of the Mount Vernon Parent-Teacher Association.
"No one had to ask anyone to do anything specific," Mrs. Frantz pointed out. "It was all volunteer effort."
She mentioned that several girls at the high school decorated the gymnasium with streamers, and large red paper Mustangs. Mrs. Dennis Drahos baked the cake.
"We paid for the ingredients for the cake from the money collected from the sale of the hats," Mrs. Frantz said, "but Mrs. Drahos stayed up all night Saturday decorating each individual piece of the sheet cake with '1973 State Champs.'"
The flowers for the mothers of team members and boutonnieres for the players were bought with money donated from the community, Mrs. Frantz added.
Mrs. Mannard Barret donated all of the napkins and cups for the reception, while employees of the Iowa Electric and Light Power Company of Mount Vernon hung the banner across First Street. It was just fantastic, said Mrs. Frantz.