My obsession with Morton High School basketball started with the donation of a photograph of the 1915-16 Morton Basketball team. The team consisted of William Baker, Fred Orth, Albert Fuller, Charles “Frank” Gaasch, Bernard Ederer, William Keefe and Harry Donlon.

Their coach, Mr. Archer Martin, went to and played basketball for the St. Cloud Normal College prior to coming to Morton as a teacher and coach.

Their basketball season opened Oct. 22, 1915 against Arlington who they defeated 50-2.

Their victories continued in 1915 against teams in Gibbon (34-18) and (36-18), Morgan (39-15), Belview Town Team (58-18), Bird Island (53-16), Fairfax (31-13), Green Isle (67-4) and Delhi Town Team (31-10).

The Morton High School basketball team’s season resumed Jan. 22, 1916 with a game against Belview where Morton only allowed them three points.

A championship game against Madison took place Feb. 18, 1916 with Morton defeating Madison 34-16.

They defeated Olivia twice, once at home (65-14) and then at the armory in Olivia (23-18).

The Olivia basketball team had a rebuttal in the 1916 yearbook, “On Feb. 18 one of the hardest games of the season was looked forward to, when our boys journeyed to Morton in a bob sleigh on a cold day, which did not put them in a playing condition. We were defeated on account of the lack of elbow room and obstructions on the floor. On Feb. 22, Morton came up here with the idea of putting us off the basketball earth, but they were badly fooled. They liked to play basketball, but they would rather be entertained afterwards. The game ended with a score of 18 to 21 in Morton’s favor.”

It was intriguing to learn that the Morton team played St. Thomas College and won with a score of 34-7. It remained undefeated until a final game against Willmar.

“Morton turned out the best team in the history of the school, winning 21 out of 22 games, and should have a little recognition in the H. S. basketball world. The boys practiced hard and always played a good clean game. They and their coach deserve credit for their work. About 70 fans journeyed to Cottonwood to see the final game and a general sigh was heard when they saw the hall, for the little team can get around better on a large floor. This was the last time this five played together as Gaasch, Baker, Orth and Keefe graduated, and only Donlon, Fuller and Ederer are left.”

Gaasch, Orth, Donlon, Ederer, Fuller and Keefe all served in World War I.

This would be the only basketball team Coach Archer Martin would coach. He taught one year at Morton and then one year at Lynd High School. He moved to Minneapolis and taught math and coached the swim team at West High School until his retirement in 1955.

He met his wife, Jessie Guertin (1897-1991), while teaching immigrants at night school. They were married June 22, 1931. They had two sons, Donald (1921-2006) and Robert.

Coach Martin attended the 1963 playoff game played by Cloquet and Marshall. The coaches for the team were both Morton High School graduates, Cloquet’s Ben Trochlil and Marshall’s Glenn Mattke, rival coaches in the tournament.

Coach Mattke would end up winning with a score of 75-74 before a crowd of 18,586. Coach Martin wore a button for both teams and cheered whenever either team scored.

The only basketball team Martin coached was the 1915-16 Morton High School team. What made him decide not to continue coaching basketball is a mystery.

Martin died July 19, 1986 at the age of 92. He is buried at the Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery in Minneapolis.

One of his players, of 1915-16 team, Harry Donlon, son of Michael and Mary (McGuire) Donlon, returned to Morton High School to assist coach the 1919-20 team.

The 1920, 1921, 1924 and 1945 Morton High School teams went on to be district champions.

The museum has the banners from two years hanging in the Sports of Renville County exhibit in the main museum.

Harry’s brother, Earl “Scotty’ Donlon would return to Morton High School basketball to coach the 1945 team to victory, the team Glenn Mattke played on.

We are seeking the photograph of the 1945 team for the museum’s collection.

You can read more about Morton’s basketball team our BLOG.

The Renville County Historical Society continues to collect and preserve Renville County related items.

We have noticed that there is a gap in our yearbook collection, and we would like to make sure we have the yearbooks for all 10 of the Renville County towns including the new districts that have consolidated.

This includes Redwood Falls starting in 1986.

Visit our BLOG on the Web site www.renvillecountyhistory.com for a listing of the yearbooks we currently have in the research library.

We also have Family Files, veteran’s information, newspapers on microfilm and more in the research library. Give us a call to start your own family history research at (507) 697-6147 or e-mail info@renvillecountyhistory.com.

The main museum is open Monday – Friday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The current exhibits in the main museum include Fairfax, the American Legions of Renville County and High School Sports in Renville County. We are still accepting donations and loans for these exhibits.

We would like to make sure all the county is represented in the exhibits.

We will continue to preserve Renville County’s history from yesterday until tomorrow.

- Nicole Elzenga serves as the executive director of the Renville County Historical Society