This year’s Henning High School boys basketball state championship team is not the only one in the history of the school. It is, however, the only state title with Henning as a member of the Minnesota State High School League, earlier referred to as the State High School Athletic Association.
Back in the 1920s, Henning had yet to meet academic standards as an accredited high school and was lumped with other departmental schools of the same standing.
A graded school state basketball tournament took hold in 1922.
Fast forward to 1925 and Henning took third place in the state graded tourney. Two years later Henning was crowned state champion in the 1927 state tournament held at Hamline University in St. Paul.
A member of those two Henning teams was Don Bondy, father of Twin Cities resident Jeff Bondy who was student manager when Henning and the Peterson twins participated in the 1965 state tournament, as part of the Minnesota State High School League.
Don Bondy was instrumental in leading Henning to the state basketball title in 1927, part of a Henning group fondly referred to as “the Giant Norsemen.”
Henning defeated Chisago City, a community north of St. Paul, in the state championship game. Bondy and Anton Thompson were the star players in the title game, holding Chisago City without a point in the third period.
Scores were low in those days, with a center jump ball after every basket that was made in the early years of the 20th century. Henning won 28-18 to capture the 1927 state championship.
Otto Rortvedt led Henning by scoring 37 points in the three games at the state tournament. He stood 6-feet 6-inches and most of the time won the battle of the jump balls.
Thompson netted 27 and Bondy had 25 points in three games at state.
Owen Thompson, a Henning basketball high school senior reserve in 1966, is the son of Anton Thompson. Owen is a physician who has practiced in Barnesville for many years.
Back in 1927 the state title team arrived back home in Henning on the westbound train, the Winnipeg Flyer of the Soo Line.
“This was on a Monday night and a huge bonfire made the night seem like day,” noted Cliff Buchan in his book “Orange and Black” that covers the history of Henning basketball.
That same year, in 1927, Minneapolis South High School won the High School Athletic Association accredited school title at the Kenwood Armory in Minneapolis. South High defeated Excelsior, a community southwest of Minneapolis, 31-13.
Don Bondy played basketball at the University of Minnesota, worked in Bismarck and served with the U.S. Army in World War II. He later returned to Henning, managing Leaf Lake Pavilion and operating Bondy’s Café in Henning.
Anton Thompson pursued veterinary science at Michigan State. He later returned to his hometown of Henning.
Otto Rortvedt attended Augsburg College, played basketball and is honored on the college’s Wall of Fame. He later taught school in White Bear Lake, coaching basketball and baseball and serving as athletic director.
The Giant Norsemen from Henning did well both on and off the basketball court.
The renowned rock band Paul Revere and the Raiders performed at the Balmoral Pavilion near Otter Tail Lake in the mid-1960s. Hit songs included “Hungry” and “Him or Me, What’s It Gonna Be?”
Other performers at the Balmoral Pavilion, on the southeast side of the lake, included the Byrds who recorded “Mr. Tambourine Man” in 1965, the British rock group Herman’s Hermits who were famous for the songs “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” and “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am,” The Animals rock group that sang “House of the Rising Sun” and “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” and The Fabulous Flippers who sang “Harlem Shuffle” and “I Don’t Want to Cry.”
Tom Hintgen is a longtime Daily Journal columnist. His column appears Saturdays.