When the opportunity to keep score at Lodi High School basketball games presented itself in 1966, Larry Wieland, a 1960 graduate of Lancaster High School, readily accepted the position. Then scorekeeper, Kingsley Bancroft, a Lodi resident was stepping away from his position. The pay was non-existent, but it gave the Lodi math teacher a chance to be a part of a game he found intriguing.
“I didn’t even know that basketball existed until I entered Lancaster High School,” Wieland said.
Forty-eight years later on Sept. 27, 2014, Wieland will be inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame as a Friend of Basketball, at the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells.
As a student at the one-room Hurricane School (grades 1-8, 20 students total), he and friends played softball and were well aware of the Milwaukee Braves. With no television at home, more sports would wait until his high school years.
Wieland was introduced to basketball during his physical education classes. At home, his father made a rim and attached it to the barn.
“I thought that I was good enough to play,” he said. “The two best players in physical education class, Jim and Greg, would choose the sides for basketball. I was usually the third one chosen.”
However, his interest in basketball would be limited to these games. Wieland spoke with his parents about going out for organized sports. His father decided that he was needed for farm work and chores instead.
In 1966, Wieland was the junior varsity scorekeeper at Lodi basketball games. Several years later during the 1968-69 basketball season, he began to work the varsity games in addition to the JV events. Since then, Weiland and Greg Davis, his table partner who joined him during the 1969-70 season, have become fixtures at the Lodi basketball games. Larry only missed a handful of games in 48 years.
“We didn’t get paid. However, once the season was over, the office would hire a sub for each of us and give us tickets to go to the state basketball tournament games on one day,” he said. “We thought that was just great.”
Wieland said that it wasn’t until the 1970s when the negotiated contract provided for maybe $15 a night, including both JV and varsity games.
There have been some significant changes in the sport over the past 48 years.
“Players would have to hold up their hand when called for a foul and jump balls were decided between the two players fighting for possession,” he remembered.
The game would stop and both teams would line up around the nearest free throw or halfcourt circle, as they do now, at the beginning of each half. There would always come a time during the season when the shortest and tallest player on the court would line up against each other awaiting the jump ball toss by the referee.
In the early 1960s, there were no overtime periods. Players on the court at the end of regulation time would shoot a pair of free throws. The team that made the most of the 10 shots would win the game.
If tied after the first set of shots, the process would be repeated until the victor was decided.
Players weren’t permitted to dunk the ball early on, and the crowd also seems more involved during basketball games today, he said.
Wieland noted if he makes a mistake, fortunately, maybe two people at the table will notice. It is different with the clock.
“I can quickly correct it. If Greg makes a mistake, the whole gym might notice,” he said.
He mentions the old scoreboard apparatus with wheels to rotate to indicate the number of fouls on the player and the team foul total.
“I would tell Greg that it was the second (individual foul) and third (team foul). Greg would then rotate wheel one for the individual foul and the second wheel for the team foul,” Weiland said.
The foul information relay system had become routine over the years. During one lop-sided game, a foul had been called. Wieland this time told Davis second, third and fourth.
“Greg, as usual, rotated the first and then the second dial. His hand then hovered above a non existent third dial and began to fidget,” Wieland says with a chuckle.
He has seen Lodi’s best players while working the books: Schoen Schutneckt (1976), Randy Hamilton (1980), Harold Henry (1980), Tim Crum (2000) and a good number of players from the past four years including Brady Moses, Kris Seffrood and Jordan Shea. On the girls side, Becky Stoltenberg, Lori Hooker and Taylor Baker come to mind.
Perhaps the most memorable game witnessed at Lodi was the convincing win over Lakeside Lutheran during Shea’s freshman year.
“That win shocked both Lakeside and the other Capitol Conference teams,” Wieland said. “There were also the wins during the past three state tournament runs against East Troy, Wisconsin Dells and Marshall.”
Some officials were very happy to see Greg and himself at the table.
“They will tell us that we are the best table in the state,” he said.
For many years, Wieland had the dream of working at the WIAA state tournament. He almost ruled that out a number of years ago. Then came the last three state tournament appearances.
“That was unbelievable,” he said. “I never expected that.”
The 2013 tournament season when the Lodi boys and girls basketball teams earned a state tournament berth were great too.
In the early years, Wieland acknowledged the JV officials were usually people from Lodi and sometimes the visitors would get ‘homered’.
At Lodi, it was more the case the JV official might over compensate in favor of the visiting squad. Now days, the homecourt officiating is pretty even for both teams.
Some teams have had regular individuals for scorers. For the first 25 years, there was always someone from the opposing team at the table for the JV games – not so much anymore. There will always be someone represented at the varsity game.
“We’re considered officials of the game,” he said. “We are not to be rooting or become a part of the game.”
He noted sometimes at the end of a close game the official might instruct them to watch closely if the ball was shot before the horn sounds the end of the game.
Friends of basketball
Individuals are selected to be Friends of Basketball if they are coaches, referees, players and friends.
According to the wisbca.org website, nominees must have made a substantial contribution to Wisconsin basketball through their duties or deeds. Wieland, along with Gene Delisio, Marshfield, Mark Miller, Madison and Joan Petitgoue, Cuba City, will be inducted as Friends of Basketball. Wieland is the first Lodi resident to be honored as a selection.
Wieland first found out about his selection in January from Jerry Pettigrew.
“It was a 10 p.m. call after a ball game,” he said. “It was late, so I didn’t answer the call.”
On Sept. 27, Wieland will answer the call as his name is announced as a Wisconsin Hall of Fame Friend of Basketball.
This is an unexpected honor for someone who waited until high school to watch and play the intriguing sport of basketball.