How exciting it must have been to have a new school and to know that you must gather up some talented sporty guys to fill the teams! This is what happened at Henry in 1941. For the basketball team Karl Hoerschgen was chosen to coach. The next thing was to find the personnel who had played the game before or were willing to learn. It helped if they were fast on their feet or tall. The 1941 team was made up of 11 men, with Johnny Irving chosen as captain. Out of the 16 games they played, they won four. Strangely enough, three of those games were played against the league’s top teams. Captain John Irving, because of his fast moving, sharp shooting prowess, was awarded with the title of “High Hero” and was appointed to the All City alternate team.
So, just as this first year team was acclaimed as being a “fighting team,” they hoped to do better the next season. The men who made up this team were Wigdahl, J. Malat, Claesgens, Boerner, the Bhoelke brothers, Molgren, Engelbretson, Amlie, Irving and Eggen.
Then, as the 2nd season rolled around, a few more Cagers were added to the roster. They were F. Malat, Roisum, Steiner, Pherson, with Jerry Claesgens being their new Captain, as John Irving graduated in June of 1941.
The most thrilling contest of the 1941-42 season was the win over a surprisingly strong West squad, but they also defeated the North High aggregation thus continuing a rivalry which proved embarrassing to the “superior” North team. Don Eggen showed his offensive power by sinking a basket in the last 10 seconds of play to trip West, and Captain Jerry Claesgens played brilliant defensive ball in the win over North. Other standouts were Steiner and Pherson at guard, and Joe Malat and Roy Boehlke as forwards.
In the 1942-43 season there seemed to be a lot more personnel, with a new coach, Frank Cleve and Joe Malat taking over as Deck Captain. The list now extended to Mickelson, Bredeson, Joyce, Engstrand, Kermeen, Tyrpa, Irving, Gardner, McIntyre, Mealey, Pherson, Brant, Walker, Weller and Green. Among those people was one very special lad that the team had been looking for, for a long time. His name was Jim McIntyre and he was very, very tall!
That year the traditional rivalry went on with North High. Henry handed its rival its 2nd defeat in three starts. By battling the Polars all the way, the Patriots came out on top with a stunning 30-26 victory. Buster Mealey and Jim McIntyre totaled up 19 points between them, Jim showing for the first time talents for a great future.
Coach Frank Cleve had plans to build a squad around Jim McIntyre in the 1943-44 season.
That is what I call “Jim Dandy!”