Due to fewer classes and the challenge of facing any school of any size throughout the state, winning a high school state championship in Iowa was considered quite the feat until the multi-class system came about.
Newton not only had one team win a championship in the 1960s, it had two. And by the way, they won their titles in back-to-back seasons.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the 1962-63 championship team, Newton Senior High School will host a Champions Recognition Night at halftime of the boys team’s game against Knoxville on Friday, Dec. 21. A pre-game reception will be held in the school’s multi-purpose room at 7 p.m., and the ceremony is set for approximately 8 p.m.
Coached by Lewis “Buzz” Levick, the 1963 team finished with a perfect 26-0 overall record and defeated Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln, 66-58, for its first state title in a two-year stretch. The next year, the Cardinals defeated Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 44-39, to win its second title and finish the year with a 23-3 record.
Multiple members of the teams went on to play various sports at the college level. Among them was Larry Lust, who was inducted into the Iowa High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame at last year’s state basketball tournament. Other members of the team included Tom Altemeier, Tom Rader, Gary Simpson, Fred George, Roger Sparks, Dave Wickett and Dennis and Dave Schnathorst, among others.
The back-to-back state champs remain one of the most prolific teams in Newton history, if not in all of Iowa high school basketball history.