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Negaunee High School hosting reunion for 1957 state boys basketball champs

Members of Negaunee’s 1957 state championship team posed for a photo with the trophy. Kneeling from left are Doug Niemi, Jack Fredrickson, Bill Hyry, Joe Lucci, Paul Jandron, Dan Maki and Peter Paine. Standing from left are assistant coaches Lodie Morris and Dominic Ghiardi, Bob Manske, Tom Anderson, Bill Kokko, Don Larson, Russ Jacka, Bill Bond, Wayne Jarvi, Marty Isaacson, Richard Ellis, Rodney Bessolo, head coach Jack Taylor and Keith Gagnon. (Photo courtesy Roland Koski) Standing- Assistant coaches Lodie Morris and Dominic Ghiardi, Bob Manske, Tom Anderson, Bill Kokko, Don Larson, Russ Jacka, Bill Bond, Wayne Jarvi, Marty Isaacson, Richard Ellis, Rodney Bessolo, head coach Jack Taylor and Keith Gagnon. (Photo courtesy Roland Koski)

NEGAUNEE — Negaunee High School and the surrounding Negaunee community are honoring the 60th anniversary of the Miners’ 1957 Class B boys state basketball championship with several events on Friday.

That includes a luncheon to be held from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of Immanuel Lutheran Church. Seats are still available but reservations must be made by Thursday so organizers can plan for the correct number of people.

To make a reservation, call Roland Koski at 475-7622.

The day will begin with an assembly at the high school from 1:45 to 2:45 p.m., followed by the luncheon with invitations to family members, invited guests, members of this year’s NHS team along with the general public.

Finally, the day culminates with an introduction and ceremony for the ’57 champs just prior to Negaunee’s boys varsity game against Ishpeming that evening, scheduled for around 7:10 p.m. Honorees will include members of the team, cheerleaders from that year and family members of deceased members.

Players, guests and classmates from that year will have special seating during the game.

Players who have confirmed their attendance are Tom Anderson, Rodney Bessolo, Bill Hyry, Paul Jandron, Don Larson, Dan Maki, Bob Manske and Doug Niemi.

Unable to attend are Richard Ellis, Marty Isaacson, Russ Jacka and Bill Kokko.

And team members who have passed away include Bill Bond, Jack Fredrickson, Wayne Jarvi, Joe Lucci and the team’s three coaches, head coach Jack Taylor and assistants Dominic Ghiardi and Lodie Morris.

The team’s improbable run began with a team that had a new coach and just one returning letterman, according to Koski, who has spearheaded the organization of this reunion with the Negaunee Historical Society and Negaunee Public Schools.

Koski was 12 years old during that season and kept his own scorebook of every game, which he still possesses. He had been doing it for the three previous seasons, too, though he only has the books from 1956-57.

The Miners went 11-5 in the ’56-’57 regular season, including two overtime losses, before beating Ishpeming 48-41 for the Class B district championship, Stephenson 61-59 for the unofficial Upper Peninsula championship and Big Rapids 65-64 in a major upset in the quarterfinals in Petoskey.

Negaunee went on to defeat Lansing Resurrection 63-52 in the B semifinals and Harper Woods 68-66 for the state championship. Harper Woods was riding a 25-game win streak and had two future Michigan State University players on its roster.

Koski has assembled a souvenir book that includes many articles from the Iron Herald and The Mining Journal about the magical season along with several scanned photos donated by others. It will be sold after the reunion celebration to benefit the historical society and Negaunee schools’ booster club.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Writer Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.

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