First Mobridge ‘A’ team celebrates another milestone with reunion
Mobridge’s first basketball team to reach the state tournament and come back with a trophy celebrated another milestone. Over Independence Day, the team gathered for their 50 year high school reunion.
The story is a sports classic. Small town team comes out of nowhere and leaves with a trophy. Mobridge was competing in Class ‘A’ basketball and was the smallest school in their division. Of 32 teams, Mobridge was number 32.
But Mobridge was good that year, and showed a lot of promise. They played solid basketball the previous season and were an experienced team of eight seniors and three juniors. It was predicted that the Tigers would take it all the way to the championship game and play Sisseton, but coming from the smallest school in their division, said John Bieber, who played for the landmark Tigers team, this was tough to comprehend.
“Everyone knew we were a good team that year and we did too, but I don’t remember being anything but intimidated by those bigger teams,” said Bieber.
When the Mobridge Tigers walked in to the Huron arena in 1962, it was standing room only. “You couldn’t get in and they had bleachers on all four sides of the court and on the stage,” said Bieber. “The crowd was wild and you thought if you made a layup, you’d land in someone’s lap.”
In spite of the large crowds, the team weathered the stresses. The type of basketball played by Mobridge and preached by coach Lefty Engebritson, had developed a solid team who played together. Its success rested solidly on a foundation of teamwork built over hundreds of laps up and down the steps of what is now Scherr Howe Arena.
“Everything we did was as a team,” said John Schlect “It was the best time of my life playing with those guys because we were all friends too.”
Hard work was the only way Mobridge was going to win. The team knew they couldn’t match the ability or size of the larger teams, but they could out work them.
“We had to work hard to get to the level where we could even compete with the bigger schools,” said Bingo Kindt “We were always running and we never slowed down. The idea was to run the other teams into the ground.”
And that’s exactly what the Tigers did. They took their brand of work-hard basketball to the class ‘A’ sectional title earning 5th place. Though suffering a tough loss to Mitchell in the first round, the Tigers went on to defeating Bell Fourche and Pierre.
Most of the men are retired now. Some still live in South Dakota and others travelled long distances to relive their season for a day. It’s been 50 years since they ran the steps of Scherr Howe together, but it’s still fresh in their memories. They played as a team, and never forgot who they represented on the court.
“We had athletic pride. We did it for ourselves, our town and our school,” said Kindt. “And looking back, it certainly doesn’t feel like it’s been 50 years.”