We warned you.
We said we were going to look back through the musty archives and compile lists of what we think are the best teams in Tiger history.
And so it starts. With snow falling outside the windows of our garden level suite here at World Headquarters Thursday afternoon, we thought basketball might be a good pace to start. And it’ll be girls basketball to kick things off.
Admittedly, the early days girls’ athletics weren’t well documented. Those contests were treated like an afterthought, like the games weren’t real.
But they were real and, just like now, they meant a lot to the people who played them.
With social distancing restriction in place these days, you hear talk about playing the games but not allowing spectators. A near-empty gym was common in those days. In a feature article some time ago, longtime girls coach Jim Andrew told this Plaindealer writer that it got so quiet in those empty barns you could hear the other coach’s time-out speech.
Our guy didn’t ask if Andrew took any notes during that unintended eavesdropping, but he must have learned something from somebody because he remains the only coach to take a Tiger team to the girls state tournament.
But that 1985 squad isn’t our pick for the best ever.
That distinction goes to the team of 2008-09.
That squad, coached by Mike Bryant, finished at 21-3, losing two of its games to Bennington, including a hotly-contested district final played at Gardner Hawks Center on the campus of Dana College. The Badgers advanced all the way to the Class C1 title game before falling to Wahoo Neumann. That led pollsters at the state’s largest daily to tap Tekamah-Herman as the number-six team in the year-end rankings. The team won the East Husker Conference regular season and tournament titles. They went unbeaten in conference regular season games, winning each by an average of 25 points. Their conference tournament crown was the school’s first in 26 years.
The 2009 team featured two of the best players ever to pull on a Tiger jersey, Annie Jackson and Heather Haber. Jackson went on to a championship career in track and field for the University of Nebraska while Haber matriculated to Briar Cliff in Sioux City where she became part of a team that made it to the NAIA Div. II national championship tournament.
Jackson, a senior, broke a 32-year-old school mark by scoring 34 points in a single game. That mark stood until Haber broke it the next year. Erin Krause and Cara Cameron, both seniors like Jackson, also made huge impacts. Krause set a new school record for assists in a season. Cameron ran the show from her point guard position and was the team’s top three-point shooter, but she suffered a season-ending knee injury during the conference tournament, severely hampering the team’s state tournament chances.
Andrew’s 1984-85 squad, known as the Tigerettes in those days, is our number-two choice. That squad went 17-5 and wound up fifth in the final Class C1 rankings.
The team averaged better than 46 points a game, more than any previous T-H club and more than some since.
Cindi Doeschot, one of the top players in school history, was a junior that year. She averaged better the 15 points a game and led the team in rebounding.
Doeschot also was the driving force behind our number-three pick, the 1985-86 Tigerettes.
Hot off a runner-up performance at the state volleyball tournament, a senior-laden basketball team went looking for a second straight trip to the state bucket meet.
A loss in the district final to Archbishop Bergan ended the season with an 18-4 mark.
The school has had a lot of teams that played better than .500 ball.
Among them is our number-four pick, the 1982-83 squad. Led by Tami Petersen and Ellen Skinner, those Tigerettes went 13-8 and won the school’s first girls East Husker tournament title behind a stingy defense that allowed barely 33 points a game.
But where to go for a number-five?
There are plenty of worthy candidates, but we’re going to lean on a personal bias and take 1976-77. That version of the Tigerettes, the first to go through their entire careers with Andrew at the helm, went 12-8 was the first genuine contender Tekamah-Herman sent to the court. The group over achieved behind a strong senior class led by Lori Kuhlmann whose 32 points in a single game stood as the high water mark for more than 30 years.
So you know, our research assistant was a Class of ‘77 man himself.
We can’t finish this without giving a nod to the 1972-73 Tigerettes. Coached by Jerry Grancer and Bob Ohlund, they were the school’s first team. The girls went 4-7 that year, but without them, there aren’t any of the others.
We’ll take a look at other sports in future editions while we all wait out the virus.
See you at the ball game.
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