MHS and the Lady Bulldogs celebrated 43 years of girls basketball on January 20 at the Milbank Armory. Mary Lee Trevett and Diane Schwandt, members of Milbank’s first team, attended the celebration.
The event also marked the 30th anniversary of winning the 1987 State Class A Championship. Five of the six seniors from the 1987 team attended the reunion: Nancy Frost, Anne Nef, Stacey Nelson, Shelly Stevens, and Patty DeYoung.
The second place teams from 1988 and 1989 were also honored. The 1988 and 1989 teams were represented by Becky Piechowski, Jolene Snaza, Ginny Dohrer, and Heidi Nef.
Former coaches Bill Reidburn, Cal Nygaard, and Jim Dahl were recognized as were assistant coaches Kristi Lingert and Rick Swenson. Carol Bergquist, represented her late husband and head coach Gordon Bergquist.
Girls basketball began at Milbank High School in 1975. Sharon McCarriar coached the team which finished the season with a 5-10 record. The B squad was coached by Gloria Van Dykhorst.
Jolene Dohrer was the first player to score over 1,000 points for MHS in 1979. She compiled 1,206 career points, and still holds the record for the second highest in MHS history.
State Tournament Action
Milbank has sent seven teams to the State Class A tournament in the past 43 years: 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1995, 2006, and 2007.
MHS’s first state appearance was in 1985. Gordon Bergquist coached the team and Kristi Lingert assisted. They finished fourth at the tournament and ended the season with a 19-6 record. Team members were Nancy Frost, Anne Nef, Stacey Nelson, Shelly Stevens, Fran Van Sambeek, Deanne Wherry, Beth Whitlow, Kim Tschepen, Michelle Grimley, Jody Block, Val Mueller, Amy Nelson, Trudi Gonzenbach, and Patty DeYoung. Students managers were Angie Pauli, Michelle Ward, and Kris Horn.
The MHS cheer squad captured its first Spirit of Six award. Team members were Jamie Wendland, Jodi Waletich, Trish Brooks, Angie Hyde, and Stacy Hermans.
In 1987, Coach Gordon Bergquist took the Lady Bulldogs to the state tournament and brought home the championship trophy and title. They finished the season at 21-4.
Milbank won the district tournament by defeating Britton 76-38 and Sisseton 66-49. The Lady Bulldogs downed Hamlin in the opening game of the region tournament and edged out DeSmet, 58-43, in the region championship.
At State, Milbank first faced Lemmon and chalked up a 68-55 win. Next, they defeated Ipswich 57-55 in a barn-burner. The Lady Bulldogs faced Lennox in the final game and captured the championship title with a 54-42 victory.
Coach Bergquist was named South Dakota Girls Basketball Coach of the Year. Other awards were: All-Northeast Conference honors for Nancy Frost, Anne Nef, and Cathy Johnson; All-Dakota from Aberdeen American News for Frost and Johnson; All-Tournament Class a team honors for Frost and Johnson, and an All-State team selection for Frost. Frost was also nominated for Miss Basketball and was a Converse All-American nominee.
Team members were: Patty DeYoung, Shelly Stevens, Steph Bergan, Collette Peters, Stacey Nelson, Anne Nef, Nancy Frost, Christi Wherry, LeNae Harms, Anna Morinko, Sandy Tschepen, and Cathy Johnson. Student managers were Vicki Nelson, Katherine Lange, Lisa Harms, Sunny Fenner, and Jenny Jackson.
The MHS cheerleaders again won the Spirit of Six award. Team members were Christy Loy, Karen Dauwen, Theresa Weber, Terri Peters, Shawn Wagner, and Leann Angerhofer as Tuffy.
The Lady bulldogs took another trip to the state tourney in 1988 – a third trip for Coach Bergquist. 1988 was “a season of unbelievable achievement,” Bergquist stated in the school annual. The Lady Bulldogs were undefeated in the regular season and repeated as district and region champions. Milbank ended the season with a 24-1 record, the best record in any sport in MHS history to that point.
Milbank nearly had its tournament plans crushed, though, when they found themselves trailing DeSmet by 19 points at halftime in the region championship game. The team came back to take the victory at 65-60 and punch their ticket to State.
During the tournament, Milbank defeated Parkston 44-42 and Pine Ridge 64-61 to advance to the title game. In the championship match up, the Lady Bulldogs fell just short at 47-55 to Lennox.
Steph Bergan, LeNae Harms, Sandy Tschepen, and Christi Wherry were voted to the All-Northeast Conference team. Bergan and Tschepen were selected to the Class A All-Tournament team, the Aberdeen American News All Area Team, the Sportswriters All-State Team, and the North Squad for the South Dakota Coaches North-South All-Star Game. Tschepen was also selected as a finalist for the South Dakota Miss Basketball Award.
Team members included: Kathy Schwab, Kris White, Collette Peters, Steph Bergan, Jolene Snaza, Michelle Pauli, Laura Fields, LeNae Harms, Melissa Pauli, Sandy Tschepen, Ginny Dohrer, and Christi Wherry.
The 1988 cheer squad captured the Spirit of Six award – the second time for MHS. Team members were Leann Angerhofer as Tuffy, DaNita Miller, Amy Schofield, Karen Dauwen, Theresa Weber and Angie Dahle. Jeanne Sinclair served as their adviser.
The Lady Bulldogs made their third consecutive trip to the State Class A tournament in 1989. With Bergquist leading, the Lady Bulldogs squeezed past Webster 56-54 in the region championship to gain another state tournament berth.
The South Dakota High School Activities Association switched things up that year. For the first time, they scheduled all three classes – Class AA, Class A, and Class B for the same weekend – all in Sioux Falls.
Milbank rolled by Elk Point and Kadoka in the first two games. The Lady Bulldogs then met Pine Ridge and their star player, SuAnne Big Crow, in the championship game. The game ended in heartbreak for the Lady Dawgs. Milbank knotted up the score at 40-40 with a 15-foot jumper by Ginny Dohrer with 12 seconds left in the game. Big Crow received the inbound pass, dribbled the length of the court, missed her first shot, got her own rebound, and nailed a short jumper at the buzzer. Pine Ridge won the game and took the state title.
Coach Bergquist earned his 100th career win as head coach during the semi-final game of the state tournament. He was presented with the game ball during the welcome home festivities. Milbank finished the season with a 20-4 record.
The 1995 team, also coached by Bergquist and assisted by Lingert, finished sixth in the state with a 16-8 season record. Team members and student managers were: Laura Larson, Renee Reidburn, Marjet Thesing, Molly Schuneman, Heather Krause, Jamie Pauli, Tammy Garrett, Sharon Michlitsch, Tara DeBoer, Jennie Mach, Leah Ahles, Crystal Fischer, Amber Kosse, Melissa Hoff, Steph Schlueter, and Jenny Holscher.
Renee Reidburn finished her high school career with 1,100 points. She remains third in MHS history. She was also the first female at MHS to receive the Spirit of Su award during the State tournament. The Spirit of Su award is given to a player who best exemplifies SuAnne Big Crow on and off the court. Big Crow was a three-time Class A all-state first-team selection who holds the state record for points in a game at 67. She also owns two of the top three individual scoring seasons of all time. She was killed in an automobile accident while traveling to the Miss Basketball award banquet her senior year.
Milbank returned to the state tournament scene again in 2006 with Jim Dahl as coach. His team finished the year with a 20-4 record and captured third place at the state tournament. He was assisted by Eric Townsend, Joe Frederiksen, and Tony Howard. Team members were Tiffany Matthes, Haley Gonzenbach, Leah Streich, Amber Wollschlager, Becky Gomer, Marnie Schuneman, Jocelyn Rieger, Kelsey Paulson, Caitlyn Wojahn, Amanda Haag, Britta Hystad, and Cassie Briggs.
The Lady Bulldogs found themselves in back-to-back state tournaments in 2007. The team, again led by Coach Dahl, claimed another third place finish with a 24-2 record. Team members were Cassie Briggs, Laura Streich, Amber Wollschlager, Amand Haag, Leah Anderson, Haley Gonzenbach, Kelsey Paulson, Rachel Haag, Erin Hoeke, Britta Hystad, Sami Nygaard, Caitlyn Wojahn, Tiffany Matthes, Allie Osborne, Caroline Hicks, and Marnie Schuneman.
Wollschlager, a junior, hit the 2,000 point mark in her high school career. She had tallied 1,108 points playing varsity at Grant-Deuel High School before transferring to Milbank. She went on to score 1,379 points as a Lady Bulldog and continues to hold the record for career points at MHS.
Milbank has had nine head coaches that span the 43 years. Following are those in charge of the Lady Bulldogs: Sharon McCarriar, 1975; Pam Palmer, 1976-1977; Bill Reidburn, 1978-1982; Bill Thurow, 1983-1984; Gordon Bergquist, 1985-1997; Cal Nygaard, 1998-2005; Jim Dahl, 2005-2010; Joe Frederiksen, 2010-2016, and Brian Pauli, 2016-present.
Changes over the years
Prior to the 1985 season, two classes existed – Class A and B. Milbank was forced to play larger schools such as Brookings and Watertown. The three-class system (AA, A, B) was implemented in 1985.
Girls basketball was traditionally played in the fall. During the 2002-2003 school year, the sport was switched to a winter sport. The district tournament was also eliminated, using only a region tournament format. In 2017, the Sweet 16 started, and now the top 16 teams in the state battle it out at the state tournament.
Photos: Members of the 1987 championship team: (l. to r.) Assistant coach Kristi Lingert, Nancy Frost, Carol Bergquist (wife of the late head coach Gordon Bergquist), Anne Nef, Stacey Nelson, Shelly Stevens, and Patty DeYoung.
Members of the 1988 and 1989 state runner-up teams: (l. to r.) Becky Piechowski, Jolene Snaza, Heidi Nef, and Ginny Dohrer.