Small Wolf Lake
big winner in 1942 basketball regional
By BOB GAGEN
WOLF LAKE - Wolf Lake, with an enrollment of 123 students,
shocked Hoosier basketball followers by defeating Fort Wayne
Central, 39-24, in the regional finals March 7, 1942, before
3,800 frenzied fans at North Side High School.
It may have been considered an upset by most, but overjoyed
Wolf Lake supporters pointed to the team's 68-3 record over the
past three seasons as evidence that these Wolves were not in
the habit of losing - no matter who the opponent.
Wolf Lake advanced to Fort Wayne by defeating former coach
Heber Winebrenner's Albion squad in the sectional final, 39-23,
and turning back the Butler Windmills, 31-27, Saturday afternoon
to move into the regional championship game that evening.
It was while relaxing between games at the Fort Wayne YMCA
that senior guard Delbert Hartman voiced the opinion that the
Wolves had a good chance of beating the Tigers.
Once rid of their butterflies, coach John Reed's team did
just that by outfighting and outplaying their larger opponent.
A swisher from a difficult angle by Roger Stangland tied the
score at 2-all and with junior Tommy Targgart and cousins Paul
and Arthur Keister, the team's big men at 6-3 and 6-2 respectively,
and Hartman all contributing, the Noble County team was not to
Three of the starters - Stangland and the Keisters - were
playing their seventh year of basketball together, having started
as sixth-graders at the Merriam School, whose tiny basement gym
had a ceiling said to be about 7 feet high.
Hartman was the team's only "outsider," having played
freshman basketball at Huntington High School.
Longtime Wolf Lake fans recalled that their team had stopped
Central's tournament march 20 years earlier by a 15-12 score
when that school was known as Fort Wayne High and included such
outstanding performers as Gunnar Elliott, Willie Hosey, Louie
Norris and Jake Shaffer.
Basketball was a generational sport at the small Noble Township
school. Big gun for the Wolves in the 1922 game with Fort Wayne
was Kenneth "Hank" Wysong, with 11 of the team's 15
points. Don "Buck" Wysong also starred.
Their nephew, Paul Wysong, carried on the tradition with the
1942 team. Ethan Stangland, father of two other 1942 Wolves -
Roger and Roy - was center on the 1922 team.
What's more, Paul Wysong's father, Robert, coached the Wolf
Lake team which lost in the final game of the first sectional
ever held in Fort Wayne - at the Concordia College gym in 1921.
Robert Wysong was a member of the 1912 Wolf Lake team which lost
to Whiting, 21-14, in a first-round championship game played
at South Bend.
But the magic ended for the smallest school in the 1942 "Sweet
16" the following weekend before over 7,000 fans in Muncie
when they lost, 49-21, to Burris High School of that city.