Proviso West Holiday Tournament History  -- The 1960's

Walt Sawosko had an idea -- to fill the need for a high caliber tournament close to home which would eliminate overnight expense, and often hazardous road conditions, for teams and fans traveling downstate.  Holiday Tournaments at that time were bring held in places like Pontiac, Centrailia and DeKalb to name a few.  Eight teams made up the initial Proviso West Tournament field:  Downers Grove North, East Leyden, Maine East, Morton West, Niles East, Niles West, Proviso West and West Leyden.  Since all of the teams in the initial event were within one hour of Proviso, it gave local fans an opportunity to follow and support their favorite team. A single winner and losers bracket champion was crowned, as no third place award was given.  The ten games were conducted in three days.  Eventual champion Maine East beat West Leyden 59-44 in the tournament's first ever game.  The Demons went on to capture the title with a 62-58 victory over Morton West.  Steve Smith and Bill King both scored 16 points each for Coach Bernie Brady's champions.  Niles West beat Niles East for the consolation trophy.  Morton West's Jim Vopicka was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player and teammate Frank Tully led all scorers with 67 points in three games.  Probably the most notable player in the event was Niles West's Jim Hart, who would later play quarterback in the NFL for 19 years and have four Pro Bowl appearances.  Results from 1961


Niles West's Jim Hart
would later play in the NFL






    Souvenir program from
        1962 Tournament


With a year under its belt, the Proviso West Holiday Tournament would double in size, expanding to sixteen teams.  Morton West makes it to the championship game for the second time in two years -- this time winning the title over Maine West 51-48 outscoring the Warriors 14-9 in the final frame.  Morton's Carl Gatlin leads the Falcons with 16 points in the title game and makes the All-Tournament Team, as Maine East's Al Walters, the tourney MVP, is held to only nine points in the final.  Hinsdale's Bill Koch establishes the single game tournament scoring record with a 35 point performance against Forest View in the first round.  Results from 1962

TEAMS IN:  Elgin Larkin, Forest View, Glenbard East, Glenbard West, Highland Park, Hinsdale, Maine West, Riverside-Brookfield


Proviso East makes their initial appearance and makes the most of it with their first tournament championship under legendary coach Tom Millikin.    Pirate junior forward Al Nunness scores 24 points in the Pirates 55-53 title game victory over Maine West, which finished as runner-up for the second straight year.  Riverside-Brookfield's Tom Kondla becomes the first player to be selected to first team of the All-Tournament Team two years in a row, and would later become the tournament's first professional basketball player playing with the Minnesota Pipers and Houston Mavericks of the American Basketball Association.   Results from 1963

TEAMS IN:  Glenbrook South, Naperville, Proviso East
Elgin Larkin, Forest View, Glenbard East


    Kondla played in the ABA


Proviso East becomes the first school to win back-to-back titles, defeating Morton East 62-50 in the championship game, behind Al Nuness' 20 point performance.  Morton East guard Dan Vashinko would later become the first person to play and coach in the tournament, as he would return to his alma mater as the head coach of the Mustangs in 1978 and 1979.  Lyons Township makes the first of their 22 straight appearances and wins their initial game 97-76 over Downers Grove, setting the record for most points in a game by a team.  East Leyden, despite losing two games in the tournament --  would later advance to the Sweet Sixteen in March -- the first team in Proviso West Holiday Tournament history to do so.   Results from 1964

TEAMS IN:  Elgin, Lyons Township, Morton East
Highland Park, Maine West, Niles East


East Leyden defeats Lyons Township 72-64 in the title game for Coach Norm Goodman's only Proviso West title.  The Eagles' Jim Bradoff scores 20 for the champions.  Proviso East's 10 game tournament win streak is snapped in the semi-finals by the Lions 77-66, maring the Pirates first ever loss in Holiday Tournament play.  Proviso East's Joe Watts establishes the all-time tournament rebound record with 79 in four games which would stand until 1983 when the evaluation of game statistics revealed that more rebounds were credited than missed shots and the effort was removed from the record books.  Legend has it that Watts' girlfriend took statistics during the tournament. 
Results from 1965

TEAMS IN:  Maine West, Oak Park, West Chicago
Glenbrook South, Maine East, Naperville


Imagine Rick Howat's
numbers if there was a
three point line in 1966


Downers North's Rick Howat scores a tournament record 38 points in the Trojans semi-final victory over East Leyden and then tallies 35 points in the title game against Proviso East the next day, as Downers North claims their only tournament title with a 71-50 win.  The 21-point victory in the championship game still remains the largest margin of victory in the final and the Trojans become the first team in tournament history to score over 300 points in the four game event.  Howat shatters the all-time scoring record with  127 points, a record that he will hold for the next 25 years 
Results from 1966

TEAMS IN:  Lake Forest, Rich Central, Thornridge
Glenbard West, Niles West, West Chicago


Hinsdale Central, a charter member of the original Proviso West Tournament field, defected from the tournament after playing too many conference opponents.  Enter: Evanston.  The Wildkits won their first three games by a collective 96 points and then eked out a 50-48 overtime victory against Proviso East in the championship game before an estimated crowd of 4800 people -- the most to ever watch any Proviso West Holiday Tournament game.  The widely anticipated clash draws so many fans that the doors are locked prior to the start of the game, but unruly spectators break open a door allowing the all-time attendance figure to be set.  The title game becomes a physical clash between two future NBA goliaths in the Wildkits Bob Lackey and the Pirates Jim Brewer.  Lackey leads all scorers with 13 points in the defensive half-court struggle.  Evanston would later go on to capture the state championship -- winning each of their state tournament games by an average of 22 points. 
 Results from 1967

TEAMS IN:  Evanston
Hinsdale Central


Bob Lackey - Evanston


Jim Brewer - Proviso East

Proviso East and tournament MVP Jim Brewer redeem themselves with a 67-51 title game victory over Lyons Township.  In the final game, the Pirates become the tournament's first team to have all five players score in double figures in a championship game clash.  Walt Williams leads the balanced quintet with 17 points.  The Pirates also establish another tournament first -- as they win all four of their Christmas clashes, each by at least 10 points.  Later in the season, Proviso East goes on to capture the state championship, as coach Tom Millikin retires from coaching to become the school's principal, and finishes with three Proviso West Tournament titles and set the tournament's best winning percentage (.875) with an astounding 21 tournament wins in 24 tries.  
Results from 1968

TEAMS IN:   Willowbrook
Rich Central


Coach Ron Nikcevich moves from Riverside-Brookfield to Lyons Township as the Lions win their first Proviso West Tournament with a 61-45 victory over Downers North.  Lyons Township becomes the third team in as many years to win both the Proviso West and state tournament crowns in the same season.  Lyons completes a perfect season with a 31-0 record.  The Lions are so dominating they win every game by double digits.  In their 60-32 quarterfinal victory over Oak Park, the Lions Owen Brown grabs a tourney record 22 rebounds.  Defending state champion Proviso East is stunned 58-56 in the quarterfinals by Willowbrook as George Thoreson scores the game winner with no time left in overtime.  The loss marks the first time in tournament history that the Pirates did not advance to the Final Four.  In the Holiday Tourney title game LTHS guard Scott Shaw sets the single game assist mark with 12.  Morton West's Bill McClure makes 24 free throws in a single game  -- an individual tournament record that may never be broken.  The tournament program carries the tagline of "See College Stars of Tomorrow in Action" for the first time and still costs 25 cents. 
 Results from 1969

TEAMS IN:  Highland Park, Joliet West, Saint Joseph, Wheaton Central
Evanston, Maine West, Morton East, Thornridge



Lyons Township's Dave Wehrmeister would later
pitch in the Major Leagues

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