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All-Time Best: Talent in La Crosse off the charts in recent seasons

07/13/2020, 12:30pm CDT
By Mark Miller

(Editor's Note: WisSports.net basketball writer Mark Miller is using the extra time available due to COVID-19 to research the high school basketball history of some of Wisconsin's larger cities. His All-Time Best series will run on WisSports.net during the next few months).

Since Scott Christopherson transferred to La Crosse Aquinas in the fall of 2005 from Melrose-Mindoro, the run of individual basketball talent in the city of La Crosse has been nothing short of sensational.

In fact, in the long and storied history of the programs at Aquinas, Central and Logan, four of the top five players on the WisSports.net All-Time La Crosse squad have dominated the courts in the Coulee Region since the start of the 21st century.

Of course, there was plenty of talent in La Crosse prior to Christopherson's arrival, but high-end players such as Bronson Koenig, Kobe King and Johnny Davis followed Christopherson's lead in landing spots among the top five players in Wisconsin on Associated Press All-State teams.

Following is an in-depth look at some of the best players to play high-school basketball in La Crosse: 

Criteria For All-Time La Crosse Teams
1) In order to be chosen to the first, second, third or fourth all-time team, a player must have earned first, second, third or fourth team all-state honors from either the Associated Press or United Press International. Exceptions will be made, but will be rare.

2) In addition to the accomplishments a player achieved in high school, their college honors in the sport also weigh heavily when selecting the teams.  

All-Time La Crosse Team

NAME HEIGHT GRADUATION YEAR HIGH SCHOOL All-State Team
FIRST TEAM
Johnny Davis 6'5" 2020 Central 1st (AP)
Bronson Koenig 6'3" 2013 Aquinas 1st (AP)
Scott Christopherson 6'2" 2007 Aquinas 1st (AP)
Kobe King 6'4" 2017 Central 1st (AP)
John Ford 6'3" 1969 Central 2nd (AP)

Johnny Davis, 6-5, G, 2020, Central
First Team All-State 2020 AP

Not all that many players in state history have won the Mr. Basketball and Associated Press Player of the Year award in the same season. Davis joined some exclusive company a few months back when the future University of Wisconsin Badger won both awards. The ultra-aggressive and super athletic wing player helped Central to a 20-5 record and a spot in the WIAA Division 2 sectional finals before COVID-19 ended the season. During his first three years of varsity competition, Davis played on state-tournament squads under coach Todd Fergot, coming off the bench as a freshman as the Red Raiders captured the Division 2 title with a victory over Cedarburg. No player ended his career with more points than Davis, who completed his prep days with 2,158 points. He was at his best in some against some of the top competition on Central's schedule, scoring 42 points against nationally ranked Minnehaha Academy of Minnesota in a game played before a sold out crowd at UW-La Crosse Mitchell Hall as a senior. Davis and his twin brother, Jordan, will be headed to Wisconsin and few doubt both will perform well for the Badgers over the next several seasons.

Bronson Koenig, 6-3, G, 2013, Aquinas
First Team All-State 2013 AP

A two-time first-team all-state pick by the Associated Press and one of the better point guards to come out of the state in the past 25 years, Koenig led Aquinas to WIAA Division 3 state championships in 2011 and 2013 under coach Rick Schneider. As a sophomore in 2010-11, Koenig had 15 points, three rebounds and four assists as Aquinas beat Racine St. Catherine's 40-34 in the title game and finished the season with a 27-1 record. As a senior in 2012-13, Koenig had 16 points, two rebounds and five assists in a 53-48 triumph over Lodi in the title contest as Aquinas went 24-4. Koenig scored 1,475 career points for Aquinas and earned first-team all-league laurels in the Mississippi Valley Conference three times. Koenig went on to star at the University of Wisconsin, scoring 1,459 points in four seasons with the Badgers and playing in two Final Fours.

Scott Christopherson, 6-2, G, 2007, Aquinas
First Team All-State 2007 AP

A difficult player to guard at the prep level because of his ability to score from outside the three-point arc, take defenders off the bounce and use his strength and skill to score on drives to the basket, and pass well to open teammates out of double teams, Christopherson helped Aquinas to a 26-1 record and a runner-up finish in the WIAA Division 3 State Tournament as a senior in 2006-07. He averaged 22.3 points and 5.7 rebounds as the Blugolds won the Mississippi Valley Conference title, beat Manitowoc Roncalli in the state semifinals and then dropped a 60-56 decision to Racine St. Catherine's in the state-championship game. The Mr. Basketball award winner -- he shared the honor with Keaton Nankivil of Madison Memorial -- scored 1,082 points in two seasons at Aquinas. Counting his freshman and sophomore years at Melrose-Mindoro, Christopherson scored a total of 1,906 points in high school. After scoring 24 points as a freshman at Marquette in 2007-08, Christopherson transferred to Iowa State, where he scored 1,106 points and made 198 three-point shots in three years.

Kobe King, 6-4, G, 2017, Central
First Team All-State 2017 AP

Like Davis, King was selected as Mr. Basketball and Associated Press Player of the Year during his senior season in 2016-17. King led Central to a 26-2 record and the WIAA Division 2 state championship as a senior in 2016-17. It was Central's first state title in boys' basketball since 1925. In a memorable 55-53 victory over Cedarburg in the title game at the Kohl Center in Madison, King electrified the crowd with 28 points and nine rebounds. He ended his brilliant four-year prep career playing under coach Todd Fergot with 2,060 points and ranks second in La Crosse history for most points scored in a career. King went on to play two-plus seasons for the University of Wisconsin before opting to leave the Badgers' program last January. He is undecided about his future in basketball at this point. 

John Ford, 6-3, G, 1969, Central
Second Team All-State 1969 AP

After playing some varsity minutes at Onalaska Luther as a freshman, Ford enrolled at Central for his final three years of high school. Playing for coach Jerry Day, Ford scored 1,184 points in 61 career games for an average of 19.4 ppg. He helped Central to a share of the Big Rivers Conference title with Eau Claire Memorial as a senior in 1968-69 when he also was named Most Valuable Player of the league. As a sophomore, Ford played alongside forward John Nordrum (6-6) as the Red Raiders went 21-5 and advanced to the WIAA State Tournament. A two-time first-team all-Big Rivers performer, Ford set a then-league record for most career points with 790. He went on to play for the freshman team at the University of Wisconsin, but ran into some problems with academics and depression. He later earned all-Wisconsin Technical College honors while playing at Western Wisconsin Technical Institute in La Crosse. Ford, who remains a legend in La Crosse and once scored 44 points in a game against Wausau, was inducted into the WBCA Hall of Fame in 2011. 

All-Time La Crosse Team

NAME HEIGHT GRADUATION YEAR HIGH SCHOOL All-State Team
SECOND TEAM
Dave Horton 6'3" 1959 Logan 1st (AP)
Lyle Papenfuss 6'4" 1960 Central 1st (AP)
Derrick Buettner 6'4" 1987 Aquinas 1st (AP)
Jim Keeler 6'3" 1979 Central 1st (AP)
Dave Gagermeier 5'10" 1961 Aquinas 2nd (AP)

Dave Horton, 6-3, F, 1959, Logan
First Team All-State 1959 AP

Horton made 11 field goals and scored 27 points while grabbing 16 rebounds in Logan's heart-wrenching 79-77 overtime loss to Milwaukee Lincoln in the semifinal round of the 1959 WIAA State Tournament. What most remember, though, is the 12th field goal Horton made in the contest. It was disallowed, and it's been a source of immense controversy in La Crosse for more than 60 years. Trailing 79-77 in the closing seconds of overtime, Horton let go with a shot from one stride beyond the half-court line. It swished through the net for what many thought was a game-tying basket. After huddling at the scorer's table, though, the officials ruled the shot came after time had run out. Many in the University of Wisconsin Fieldhouse, including Horton and his coach, Rod Martin, thought the shot should have counted. In any event, Horton led the Rangers to a 26-2 record and the third-place trophy at the state tournament. He led the WIAA tournament in both scoring (65 points) and rebounds (45). He scored 1,053 career points in three seasons at Logan and averaged 19.1 ppg as a senior. Horton went on to play four years of college basketball at UW-Platteville, scoring 1,256 career points for the Pioneers.

Lyle (Slats) Papenfuss, 6-4, F, 1960, Central
First Team All-State 1960 AP

The LaCrescent, Minn., resident attended grade school in his Minnesota community before enrolling at Central for high school. He turned in a monster senior season for first-year coach Stan DuFrane, scoring 408 points and averaging 18.5 points for the Red Raiders, who went 18-4. In a regional consolation contest, Papenfuss scored a career-best 31 points in a 78-77 victory over Logan. A first-team all-league pick in the Big Rivers Conference as a senior, Papenfuss came off the bench for coach Bob Kloss as a junior and showed promise by scoring 123 points as Central went 15-4. Papenfuss went on to enjoy a prolific four-year career at Winona State, scoring 1,216 points while playing for coaches Joe Gerlach and Robert Campbell. 

Darrick Buettner, 6-4, G, 1987, Aquinas
First Team All-State 1987 AP

Playing on one of the best teams in Aquinas history, Buettner led the Blugolds to a 24-2 record and the Central Wisconsin Catholic Conference title as a senior in 1986-87. The Player of the Year in the CWCC averaged 19.7 points and 7.0 rebounds for coach Sam Servais and the Blugolds, who finished the season with a 24-2 record after a 45-43 overtime loss to Racine St. Catherine's in the semifinal round of the WISAA State Tournament. A good perimeter shooter with very good athleticism, Buettner earned a scholarship to The Citadel, but left the South Carolina school during the fall semester of his freshman year. He later enrolled at St. John's University in Minnesota and earned all-league honors twice for the Johnnies while scoring 1,136 career points. 

Jim Keeler, 6-3, G, 1979, Central
First Team All-State 1979 AP

The best player on one of the better teams in Central history, Keeler helped the Red Raiders to a 23-2 record under coach Gary Robarge as a senior in 1978-79. Central lost to Milwaukee Tech 67-65 in the WIAA Class A championship contest in 1979, ending Keeler's remarkable prep career. He averaged 17.2 points as a senior and nearly 25 ppg during the three state-tournament games. Keeler scored 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Central's 64-58 win over Brookfield East in the state quarterfinals, and then had 23 in a 73-69 win over Sussex Hamilton in the semifinals. In the title-game loss to Tech, Keeler scored 22 points, giving him 73 in three contests and the tournament scoring title. Keeler went on to play college basketball at Lake Land Junior College and Eastern Wyoming College. 

Dave Gagermeier, 5-11, G, 1961, Aquinas
Second Team All-State 1961 AP

Gagermeier was a scorer while playing four years of varsity basketball for coach John Michuta at Aquinas. He held the Aquinas' scoring record for most points in a career with 1,420 for 32 years before Jeff LeClaire broke the mark. Gagermeier helped Aquinas to a 16-6 record as a senior in 1960-61. He scored 62 points in three Wisconsin Catholic Interscholastic Athletic Association State Tournament contests as the Blugolds lost to Madison Edgewood 57-56 in the consolation championship game. Gagermeier netted 453 points as a senior and earned first-team all-Catholic state honors from UPI as a junior and senior. Gagermeier, who scored a career-high 43 points in a 75-71 victory over Dubuque Wahlert as a junior, went on to play both football and basketball at St. Norbert College. 

All-Time La Crosse Team

NAME HEIGHT GRADUATION YEAR HIGH SCHOOL All-State Team
THIRD TEAM
Bob Dunham 6'2" 1962 Aquinas 2nd (AP)
Jeff LeClaire 6'3" 1993 Aquinas 2nd (AP)
Mark Newburg 7'0" 1975 Aquinas 4th (AP)
John Evans 6'2" 1990 Logan 3rd (AP)
Jordan Davis (tie) 6'4" 2020 Central 3rd (AP)
Terrance Thompson (tie) 6'7" 2020 Central HM (AP)

Bob Dunham, 6-2, F, 1962, Aquinas
Second Team All-State 1962 AP

Few players in La Crosse history dominated in the scoring column and rebounding department as well as Dunham did during his senior season in 1961-62. The 6-foot-2 forward averaged 21.3 points and an incredible 17.1 rebounds while helping Aquinas to a 17-4 record, a share of the City championship with Central and a trip to the WCIAA State Tournament in Milwaukee. Dunham scored 30 or more points five times for coach John Michuta and the Blugolds, including a career-best 34 in his final game, a regional loss to eventual state-champion and unbeaten Madison Edgewood.

Jeff LeClaire, 6-3, G, 1993, Aquinas
Second Team All-State 1993 AP

LeClaire helped to build a very strong basketball program at Aquinas during the early 1990s as the Blugolds went from a 6-17 mark his freshman year to an 18-6 record during his senior campaign in 1992-93. He scored a then-La Crosse record 1,732 career points while playing for coach Mike Desmond, including a then-record tying 44 points as a senior in a game against La Crosse Central. LeClaire averaged 25.5 points and 8.0 rebounds while scoring 611 points and sparking Aquinas' Central Wisconsin Catholic Conference-title team in 1993. He went on to play college basketball at UW-Eau Claire, but serious knee injuries cut short his time on the court with the Blugolds. 

Mark Newburg, 7-0, C, 1975, Aquinas
Fourth Team All-State 1970 AP

Newburg grew in a hurry during his prep days of playing basketball for coach Dave Bruha at Aquinas. As a 6-foot-8, sophomore, Newburg earned honorable mention all-league honors for an Aquinas squad that went 19-6 and won the Central Wisconsin Catholic Conference title. Newburg grew to 6-10 as a junior and scored a career-high 35 points in a 63-61 victory over Assumption while helping the Blugolds to a 15-6 record. As a senior in 1974-75, Newburg sprouted to 7-0 and scored 25 or more points seven times as Aquinas went 14-8. Newburg earned first-team all-CWCC honors as a junior and senior, and scored 1,130 career points. He went on to play college basketball at the University of Wisconsin, scoring 49 points and grabbing 76 rebounds in 42 career games with the Badgers from 1975-80.

John Evans, 6-3, G, 1990, Logan
Third Team All-State 1990 AP

Helping to end a 30-year drought that has turned into another 30-year drought, Evans was a key performer on Logan's 1989 WIAA State Tournament squad, which beat Madison West 56-54 in a sectional final behind Evans' 18 points and 12 rebounds. The sectional victory earned Logan its first state-tournament berth in 30 years (1959) and the Rangers went out and beat Milwaukee Vincent in the state quarterfinals before losing to Eau Claire North, despite 23 from Evans, in the state semifinals. That was Logan's last trip to the state tournament, another drought of 30 seasons through 2019. As a senior, Evans led coach Tom Manchester's Rangers to more success as they won the Mississippi Valley Conference title with a 10-0 mark while going 21-3 overall. Evans averaged 22.9 points and scored a then-school record 42 points in a game against Holmen. Evans scored 1,101 points during his prep career and went on to play college basketball at UW-Parkside and St. Cloud State. 

Jordan Davis, 6-4, G, 2020, Central
Third Team All-State 2020 AP

Although not as flashy or prolific as his twin brother, Johnny, Jordan Davis provided a steadying influence to the Central basketball program the past four seasons. His consistent play and extremely high poise on the court were huge assets for coach Todd Fergot and the Red Raiders, who won a WIAA Division 2 state title during Davis' freshman season and then lost in the semifinal round of the state tournament in 2018 and 2019. Davis averaged 7.5 ppg as a freshman, 10.2 ppg as a sophomore, 12.6 ppg as a junior and 12.7 ppg as a senior. Remarkably consistent numbers for a very consistent player. Davis scored 1,101 career points for Central and will attend the University of Wisconsin on a basketball scholarship in the fall along with his brother. 

Terrance Thompson, 6-8, F, 2020, Central
Honorable Mention All-State 2020 AP

Thompson's numbers appear rather pedestrian as he averaged 12.8 points and 5.9 rebounds as a senior for a Central squad that went 20-5 under coach Todd Fergot. But remember, the muscular 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward played on a team with two additional NCAA Division I players in brothers Johnny and Jordan Davis. So with Thompson, it wasn't always about scoring points, but rather being a key cog in a program that went 68-11 during his three years of playing for the Red Raiders. Thompson started as a freshman at Logan and scored more than 200 points before opting to transfer to Central at the start of his sophomore season. He played on two teams that participated in the WIAA State Tournament and Central was poised to make another trip to Madison before COVID-19 ended the season and left the Red Raiders waiting for a sectional final against Hortonville that never came. Thompson, who scored 1,004 career points, had 26 points and 10 rebounds in a regional final win over New Richmond and 13 points and seven blocked shots in the Red Raiders' sectional semifinal triumph over Onalaska last March. He announced in April he will continue his basketball career at Division I Green Bay.  

La Crosse's Additional All-Staters

NAME HEIGHT GRADUATION YEAR HIGH SCHOOL All-State Team
Bailey Kale 6'0" 2017 Central 3rd (AP)
Jimmy Whitehead 6'1" 2009 Aquinas 3rd (AP)
Lucas Morrissey 6'3" 2008 Aquinas 4th (AP)
A.J. Halverson 6'3" 2004 Aquinas 4th (AP)
Colin Walsh 6'3" 2003 Aquinas 3rd (AP)
Joe Dunham 6'0" 1982 Logan 3rd (AP)
Joe Topinka 6'6" 1973 Aquinas 3rd (AP)
Bob Petry 6'4" 1969 Aquinas 4th (AP)
Jim Nordrum 6'7" 1967 Central 4th (AP)
Bill Torrance 6'1" 1962 Central 2nd (UPI)
Dave Loomis 5'11" 1957 Logan 3rd (AP)

Notes (2000s): Bailey Kale (6-0) was Kobe King's highly impressive sidekick at Central for four seasons and was instrumental in helping the Red Raiders to a 26-2 record and the WIAA Division 2 state championship in 2016-17. The talented point guard scored 15 points, grabbed three rebounds and handed out two assists in the Red Raiders' 55-53 win over Cedarburg in the title contest. Kale currently is playing college basketball at UW-Whitewater ... Jimmy Whitehead (6-1) started on Aquinas teams that played for the WIAA Division 3 state title in both 2008 and 2009. As a junior in 2007-08, Whitehead helped Aquinas to a 24-3 record and a 70-51 win over Iola-Scandinavia in the D3 title game by scoring 11 points and grabbing seven rebounds as coach Rick Schneider's squad went 24-3. As a senior, Whitehead had 23 points in a state-semifinal win over Manitowoc Roncalli and 17 points in the 48-34 loss to Racine St. Catherine's in the D3 championship contest. He scored 906 points in two varsity seasons for coach Rick Schneider and the Blugolds. Whitehead played three seasons at NCAA Division II Minnesota State Mankato before finishing his collegiate career at UW-Stout, averaging 15.3 points and 5.0 rebounds as a senior for the Blue Devils in 2013-14 ... Lucas Morrissey (6-3) was not a huge scorer, but he came up big in big games for Aquinas and coach Rick Schneider. During his three seasons of varsity competition from 2005-08, Aquinas went 70-7. He helped the Blugolds to a 24-3 record and the WIAA Division 3 state title as a senior by averaging 12.3 points and 5.3 rebounds. He played one season at UW-Eau Claire before transferring to UW-La Crosse. Morrissey earned all-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference laurels as a senior at UWL, averaging 10.8 ppg and 7.0 rpg in 2012-13 ... A.J. Halverson (6-3) led Aquinas to a 20-2 record and the Mississippi Valley Conference title as a senior in 2003-04, averaging 18.1 points and 4.5 rebounds for coach Mike Desmond and the Blugolds. As a junior, Halverson played a huge role in leading Aquinas to a 24-3 record and the WIAA Division 2 state title. In the state-championship game against Seymour, Halverson scored 15 points as the Blugolds registered a 62-59 victory. Halverson went on to play college basketball at UW-Platteville ... Colin Walsh (6-3) teamed with Halverson and 1,000-point scorer Mike Wendland (6-1) to help Aquinas win the 2003 WIAA Division 2 state title. In two games at the University of Wisconsin Fieldhouse in 2003, Walsh scored just 13 points, but he also grabbed 20 points, handed out 15 assists and played stellar defense. Walsh, Halverson and Wendland all earned WIAA All-Tournament honors as Aquinas went 24-3 under coach Mike Desmond and won their first state title since capturing the Catholic schools state crown in 1950. Walsh went on to play college basketball at UW-Eau Claire. 

Notes (1980s): Joe Dunham (6-0) played three years of varsity basketball at Logan and scored 985 career points from 1979-82. He averaged 20.5 points as a senior in 1981-82 while helping coach Tom Manchester's Rangers to a 13-5 record and a share of the Big Rivers Conference title with Eau Claire North. Dunham went on to play college basketball at Viterbo University and scored 1,085 points during his collegiate career.

Notes (1970s): Joe Topinka (6-6) helped Aquinas to a 19-6 record, the Central Wisconsin Catholic Conference title and a berth in the WISAA State Tournament as a senior in 1972-73. Topinka, a two-time first-team all-City performer, averaged 13.1 points and 11.9 rebounds for coach Dave Bruha and the Blugolds. Topinka went on to play college basketball at Northern Illinois for two seasons before transferring to UW-La Crosse. 

Notes (1960s): Bob Petry (6-4) scored just over 1,000 points during his three years of varsity basketball at Aquinas. Playing for coach Dave Bruha, Petry helped the Blugolds to two Central Wisconsin Catholic Conference titles, two City crowns and one berth in the WCIAA State Tournament. He went on to become a National Junior College Athletic Association All-American at Western Wisconsin Technical Institute, averaging more than 30.0 ppg as a freshman and sophomore for coach Ted Kothe ... Jim Nordrum (6-7) was the top performer for a Central squad that went 21-5 and played in the WIAA State Tournament under coach Jerry Day in 1967. Nordrum scored 501 points as a senior and averaged 19.3 ppg for the Red Raiders. As a junior Nordrum scored 329 points, giving him 830 points in his two-year varsity career at Central. Nordrum went on to play college basketball at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa ... Bill Torrance (6-1) was a very good defender and stellar rebounder for Central's 1961-62 squad that went 18-7 and qualified for the WIAA State Tournament under coach Jerry Seeman. Torrance was the top rebounder and second-leading scorer on the squad, and went on to play on the freshman team at Purdue University in 1962-63 ... 

Notes (1950s): Dave Loomis (5-11) scored just over 900 points in three seasons of playing for coach Rod Martin at Logan. He netted 513 points as a senior while helping the Rangers to a 19-8 record and a trip to the WIAA State Tournament as a senior in 1956-57. Loomis averaged 18.2 ppg that season and had 24 in a 73-64 loss to Milwaukee North at the University of Wisconsin Fieldhouse in the state tournament.

Stars Prior To All-State Teams (Pre-1957)

NAME HEIGHT GRADUATION YEAR HIGH SCHOOL
Jim Lind 6'2" 1956 Logan
Howie Latshaw 6'2" 1955 Logan
Bill Skemp 6'3" 1952 Aquinas
Mike Skemp 5'11" 1950 Aquinas
Jim (Skinny) Thomas 6'8" 1949 Logan
Dan Spika 6'2" 1949 Aquinas
Glen Selbo 6'3" 1943 Logan
Steve Pavela 6'0" 1941 Aquinas

Notes (1950s): Jim Lind (6-2) was one of the top defenders in the La Crosse area during his high school days at Logan. He helped the Rangers to a 15-6 record under coach Rod Martin as a senior in 1955-56 by averaging 13.0 ppg. Lind went on to play four years of college basketball at Luther College in Iowa ... Howie Latshaw (6-2) turned in a fantastic season for coach Rod Martin at Logan during his final year of prep basektball in 1954-55. Latshaw scored 37 points against Aquinas and 34 against VIroqua and helped the Rangers to a 17-5 record by averaging 22.2 ppg and scoring 502 points on the season ... Bill Skemp (6-3) was nothing short of dominant as a senior at Aquinas in 1951-52. The 6-foot-3 forward scored 532 points and averaged 22.2 ppg while leading coach John Michuta's squad to a 14-10 record and a third-place finish in the WCIAA State Tournament in De Pere. Skemp scored 1,218 career points, including a then-school record 36 in a 57-45 win over Rochester, Minn., Lourdes. He went on to excel at St. Mary's University in Winona, Minn. ... Mike Skemp (5-11) enjoyed some tremendous success during his playing days at Aquinas. The sharpshooting backcourt ace played on Catholic school state-title teams under coach John Michuta in 1949 and 1950 and his teams went a combined 41-6 during his junior and senior seasons. Skemp scored 19 points for Aquinas in its' 61-47 victory over Milwaukee Marquette in the Catholic school title game at St. Norbert College in 1950. 

Notes (1940s): Jim (Skinny) Thomas (6-8) helped Logan to the WIAA State Tournament as a junior and senior. During his senior season in 1948-49, Thomas scored 350 points and averaged 14.0 points per game as the Rangers went 22-3 and lost to Hurley, 37-36, in the state-title game. Thomas scored 17 points against Hurley, but the Rangers came up one basket short of capturing the state title. Thomas went on to play college basketball at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa ... Dan Spika (6-2) led Aquinas to a 20-5 record and the Catholic schools state title under coach John Michuta in 1948-49. Spika scored 259 points that season and played three years of varsity basketball for the Blugolds. A unanimous all-Catholic school tournament selection, Spika went on to play college basketball at the University of Wisconsin ... Glen Selbo (6-3) was perhaps the best player to come out of La Crosse during the first half of the 20th century. Selbo led Logan to the coveted La Crosse City title for the first time in school history as a senior in 1942-43 as the Rangers went 2-0 against Central and 2-0 against Aquinas. Logan went 17-1 overall under coach Carl Matthusen with its lone loss coming at the hands of Prairie du Chien Campion. Selbo went on to star in collegiate athletics at Wisconsin, Michigan and Western Michigan. As a senior at Wisconsin in 1946-47, Selbo earned all-conference honors. He also played baseball for the Badgers. After high schooll, Selbo played two seasons with the Oshkosh All-Stars and one year with the Sheboygan Redskins of the National Basketball League. Selbo went into teaching, coaching and high school administration following his playing days and coached the basketball team at Green Bay West in the early to mid 1950s ... Steve Pavela (6-0) led the Catholic school state tournament in scoring as a junior and senior. A very good shooter, Pavela scored 49 points in three games at state as a junior in 1939-40 when the Blugolds lost to St. Mary Catholic 36-29 in the title game. A year later, Pavella scored 59 in three games, including 23 in the Blugolds' 48-34 win over St. Mary Catholic in the championship game. Pavela had 100 points in four games at the 1941 National Catholic Invitational at Loyola University in Chicago, including a career-best 34 points in a victory over St. Joseph High School of Owensboro, Kentucky. Pavela went on to play basketball and baseball at Notre Dame, and later became the executive director of the Wisconsin Independent Schools Athletic Association (WISAA). Pavella, 96, still lives in La Crosse.

La Crosse's All-Time Top Scorers

NAME HEIGHT GRADUATION YEAR HIGH SCHOOL POINTS
Johnny Davis 6'5" 2020 Central 2,158
Kobe King 6'4" 2017 Central 2,060
Jeff LeClaire 6'3" 1992 Aquinas 1,732
Bronson Koenig 6'3" 2013 Aquinas 1,475
Bailey Kale 6'0" 2017 Central 1,271
Dave Gagermeier 5'10" 1961 Aquinas 1,420
CJ Siegel 6'1" 2018 Logan 1,219
Bill Skemp 6'3" 1952 Aquinas 1,218
John Ford 6'3" 1969 Central 1,184
Mark Newburg 7'0" 1975 Aquinas 1,130
John Evans 6'2" 1990 Logan 1,101
Jordan Davis 6'4" 2020 Central 1,101
Conley Malone 6'0" 2018 Aquinas 1,099
Tyler McDonald 6'2" 1986 Logan 1,097
Scott Christopherson 6'2" 2007 Aquinas 1,082
Mike Wendland 5'11" 2004 Aquinas 1,081
Gar Ammerman 5'9" 1956 Central 1,077
Pat Callahan 5'10" 1967 Aquinas 1,059
Dave Horton 6'3" 1959 Logan 1,053
Darrick Buettner 6'4" 1987 Aquinas 1,044
Bob Petry 6'4" 1969 Aquinas 1,009
Terrance Thompson 6'8" 2020 Logan/Central 1,004
Lester Simpson 6'2" 2002 Central 1,000
Joe Dunham 6'0" 1982 Logan 985
Steve Pavela 6'0" 1941 Aquinas 977

Notes (2000s): CJ Siegel (5-11) was an outstanding scorer for Logan and coach Andy Fernholz. His quickness and skill made him a difficult player to cover. He currently playing football at North Dakota ... Conley Malone (6-1) played four seasons of varsity basketball at Aquinas and helped the Blugolds to the WIAA Division 4 State Tournament in 2016. Playing for coaches Sam Servais and Brad Reinhart, Malone became the 11th player in Aquinas history to reach 1,000 career points as a senior in 2017-18. He earned second-team all-Mississippi Valley Conference recognition as a junior and senior.

Notes (1980s): Tyler McDonald (6-2), the son of long-time UW-La Crosse coach Burt McDonald, earned all-Big Rivers Conference honors three times and scored 1,086 points during his four-year prep career playing for coach Tom Manchester at Logan. As a senior, McDonald averaged 14.7 points as the Rangers went 10-10. After one season at Northwest Community College, McDonald transferred to UW-La Crosse and played for his father.

Notes (1960s): Pat Callahan (5-9) earned first-team all-league honors in the Central Wisconsin Catholic Conference as a junior and senior. During his senior year in 1966-67, Callahan scored 413 points and averaged 19.7 points for coach Dave Bruha and the Blugolds. Callahan scored a career-high 34 in a victory over Logan as a junior and went on to play college basketball for four seasons at St. Norbert.

Notes (1950s): Gar Ammerman (5-9) helped Central to a 20-8 record and a spot in the WIAA State Tournament as a senior in 1955-56. A terrific shooter with a quick release, Ammerman netted 38 points in a regional win over Logan and then netted 39 in an 87-80 loss to Appleton at the state tournament. He scored 636 points as a senior and averaged 22.7 ppg for coach Bob Kloss and the Red Raiders. He finished his prep career with 1,077 points and went on to score 1,258 points during his collegiate career at UW-La Crosse. 

Additional Notes (2000s): The 2001 graduating class in La Crosse featured three stellar players -- one from each high school in Andy Fernholz (6-3) of Aquinas, Joe Korneta (6-9) of Logan and Lester Simpson (6-2) of Central. Fernholz helped Aquinas to a 19-4 record and a share of the Mississippi Valley Conference title under coach Mike Desmond by averaging 10.5 points, 6.1 assists and 4.3 rebounds from his point-guard position. He went on to play college basketball at UW-Oshkosh and later served as head coach at Logan. Korneta averaged 17.7 points and 10.5 rebounds during his senior season playing for coach Troy McDonald at Logan. He went on to play college baseball at Minnesota-Duluth. Simpson earned first-team all-league honors four straight seasons and averaged 17.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists as a senior for coach Ken Barrett and the Red Raiders. He went on to play college football at North Dakota State.

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