Small North Dakota town has a big high school basketball heritage

In today's "Neighbors" column, Bob Lind hears from a reader about a winning streak in the 1950s for the team in Alsen.

Bob Lind
Bob Lind, Neighbors columnist. The Forum
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Alsen, N.D., north of Devils Lake, has only around a hundred persons living there. But it has a big high school basketball heritage. Ray Herbel, Mapleton, N.D., sends “Neighbors” an undated clipping from the Cavalier County Republican about it.

Written by Rita Maisel, it reads, in part, “The long ago Alsen Broncos basketball team is known far and wide for setting a winning streak in the 1950s which has not been topped since.

“Building a winning streak is hard work and you do it one game at a time.

“After the first couple of games, the fans knew they had a good group and cheered them on game after game.

“The first year they won 34 games counting the ones that took them to the state Class C championship, and the second year they built on that foundation, winning another 34 games.


“Alsen players went on to win the first 11 games of the 1959 season, ending the consecutive winning streak at 79, a record which will stand in North Dakota basketball history books.

“There would be more wins and some losses before the school closed in 1980.”

When the school closed, some of the guys from that winning team gathered for a reunion, the article said. They were Donald Klein, Donald “Skip” Spenst, Alan Kreklau, Gilbert Herbel and Rayburn Herbel.

The old school and gym burned down in 1946, but a new school and gym opened in the early 1950s.

“A new teacher and coach had been hired but became ill,” the article says. “ Sam Kreklau, who farmed near Alsen, was hired to coach the team for one year.

“Osnabrock’s team had qualified for state in 1954 and came in second, won the title in 1955 and in 1956 ended up in third place. Alsen thought it could as well.

“They went on to the county tournament. They beat St. Alphonsus, Milton and Langdon. And then came Osnabrock - still a strong team.”

Alsen won by 10 points. They won the conference, the district and the region and were off to state where they hung on until the championship round and won over Taylor.


“A new coach came in the fall of 1957 named Robert Morehouse. Team scoring stats went up, with 88 points in the first game.
“They had a score of 113 over Hansboro’s 34.”

Rita wrote that Alsen made it to state, where it won the championship by beating Fort Totten 50-49. The players of the game were Donald Spenst and Gilbert Herbel.

And there’s the story of the Alsen team of years ago.

Fargo’s alleys

This column once carried stories about Fargo’s roadways . That brought this email from Craig Fink, Moorhead.

“I just read your column where you mention the paved alleys at the 1100 and 1200 blocks between 8th and 9th Streets South in Fargo,” Craig wrote.

“Having friends on the block in the mid-1960s and playing in those alleys, I have always wondered why those alleys were paved, but no others were.

“I have always wondered if the fact that Sen. Quentin Burdick lived on the 1100 block had anything to do with it.

“Could you look into why those two blocks were paved?”


OK, can someone answer Craig’s question? Let us know.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email

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