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Local Sports

1962-63 champions honored at state hoops tournament

Teammates reflect on season, careers

Members of the undefeated 1962-63 Newton basketball team were honored last weekend during the boys' state basketball tournament. Karen Oliver (front row, third from left) came from Salt Lake City to represented her brother, Tom, who has since passed away.
Members of the undefeated 1962-63 Newton basketball team were honored last weekend during the boys' state basketball tournament. Karen Oliver (front row, third from left) came from Salt Lake City to represented her brother, Tom, who has since passed away.

In a full-circle moment, the 1963-62 Newton basketball team returned to where it first found glory last weekend.

The team, coach Lewis "Buzz" Levick and Karen Oliver, sister of Cardinal senior standout Tom Altemeier, were honored on the 50th anniversary of the first of their two titles at the boys' state basketball tournament. It was an unprecedented period of the success for Newton, as the Cardinals went undefeated in 1963 before winning another title in 1964.

Members of the team went on to various successful careers in and outside the sports world. They are remembered fondly by teammates as follows:

Tom Altemeier

The Cardinal big man was just as impressive of the court as he was on it. On top of winning a Maytag Scholarship, Altemeier was also class valedictorian with a 3.91 GPA. On the hardwood in his senior season, he earned first team honors for the Central Iowa Conference, state tournament team and all-state team. He went on to play football at Luther College before becoming a doctor with a main focus on obstetrics, which he did until his early passing.

Gary Williams

Williams received first team all-conference, second team all-tournament and third team all-state. He then attended Buena Vista University and returned to coaching in Waverly, where he coached 10 conference champion sophomore teams in 12 years on the bench. After retiring from coaching, Williams eventually turned to the insurance business, had two daughters and now resides in Waverly.

Roger Sparks

Sparks was given third team all-conference, second team all-tournament and all state honorable mention accolades for his season. After his time in Newton, he became a senior captain for Drake’s football team, which won seven out of its 14 games against Big Eight competition (three against Colorado, two against Kansas State, one against Missouri and one against Iowa State). Sparks and his wife, Connie, have three children, three grandchildren and reside in Runnells.

Dan Markmann

Another Maytag Scholarship winner, Markmann also earned third team all-conferences honors on top of all-tournament and all-state honorable mention. After attending the University of Evansville and working for Bristol-Myers Squibb, Markmann and his wife have retired to Colorado in the summer and New Mexico in the winter.

Larry Lust

Lust was named to the all-conference and all-tournament second teams on top of receiving all state honorable mention. After brief athletic career at Iowa Teacher’s College, Lust also had a brief high school basketball coaching career.

Dave Wickett

Wickett started several games during the championship season and was considered one of the team’s better ball handlers. Wickett attended school at Indian Hills, works for the Vernon Company and still resides in Newton with his wife, Kathy, with whom he has five children and 11 grandchildren.

Fred George

George was a valuable bench player for Altemeier during the state tournament. After attending Simpson College, George worked for and retired from Maytag. He now lives in Cedar Falls with his wife, Cheryl, and has four children and several grandchildren. His daughter Jill is a late model driver that participates in racing around the country.

Dave Schnathorst

Considered one of the toughest defenders on the team, Schnathorst also started in one of the guard positions for the Newton football team. After serving in the army for several years, Schnathorst retired from the DOT with his wife, Pam, and their two daughters and five grandchildren. Schnathorst still resides in Newton.

Dennis Williams

After coach Levick said Williams made Altemeier a better rebounder, he earned a starting spot on the 1963-64 championship team. Williams went on to an industrial engineering career with Maytag and retired in Newton. Now, Williams and his wife Nancy have four children, 11 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.

Roger Bradley

Following his days in Newton, Bradley earned a college degree and became a finance director. Like the Markmanns, he and his wife, Lola, reside in Colorado in the summer and New Mexico in the winter. They have one son.

Dennis Schnathorst

Considered one of the hardest workers on the team, Schnathorst also was a starting guard on an undefeated Newton football team. After spending two years in the army, Schnathorst then went on to a career with Midwest Manufacturing. Schanthorst and his wife have two sons and currently reside in Newton.

Scott Power

On top of his contributions on the hardwood, Power is also best known for the three extra points he kicked in a 21-21 tie with Des Moines Roosevelt in football. Power earned a history degree before attending law school at the University of Iowa. He now resides in Burlington with his wife, Joan, in a house that overlooks the Mississippi River, and has five children.

Dave Lister

Lister used his defensive prowess to earn a starting spot on the 1963-64 championship team. After graduating from the University of Northern Iowa, Lister became an actuary in Madison, Wisc., where he is retired today with his wife. They have three sons.

Dave Bennett

Bennett was largely know for his dedication to the game of basketball, and had some defining moments in the 1964 season. Now a resident of Virginia Beach, Va., Bennett and his wife still made the trip back to Iowa to be honored with his teammates.

Sonny Johnson

Another player who earned starting duties on the 1964 team, Johnson attended Buena Vista University after his time in Newton. He has since retired from the banking industry. Residing in Las Vegas with his wife Margy, Johnson has two children, three step children and 13 grandchildren.

Besides winning the state title in 1963, the team recalled a regular-season game against Ottumwa as one of the most thrilling events of their careers. The Cardinals trailed by as many as 16 points in the contest, but eventually emerged with a 73-68 victory.

The scene was described as any other game, with the Newton crowd as loud and raucous as ever when the team returned to the court after its pregame meeting and the pep band was blaring the school song. What happened on the court wasn’t a regular occurrence, however.

Ottumwa jumped out to a big 16-8 lead after the first quarter and turned that into a 40-30 lead at halftime. The Newton faithful remained loud, however, and they were eventually rewarded.

After a furious comeback, Williams knotted the game at 64-64 with two free throws at the 3:34 mark. Ottumwa responded with four straight points after that, but baskets by Sparks and Altemeier tied things back up. Dave Wickett then became the catalyst for the victory, sinking two free throws with 28 seconds remaining to give the Cards a three-point lead. The 9-0 run and victory were then sealed by two more free throws from Sparks.

Then-junior Larry Lust said he felt the “shiver, tingle and glow” from the victory that he only felt again when his two sons were born. To this day, members of the team claim it was the loudest the gym had ever been.

Lust also passes along thanks to Williams for helping reunite the team, as well as the various parties involved in organizing all of the functions for the team and its anniversary. Last, but not least, he sends his thanks out to the late Ed Peck and wife, Helen.

Sports Editor Shane Lucas may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 432, or at

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