History of T-Bird Basketball

By William R. Landen

Men's Coaching Records

Men's Region IX Champions and Runners-Up

Men's Season Win-Loss Records

Women's Coaching Records

Women's Region IX Champions and Runners-Up

Women's Season Win-Loss Records

 

It wasn’t long after Casper College opened its doors in 1945 before Casper College asserted its position in junior college athletics. Basketball set the standard with a first season record of 21-6.

Coach Mike Sedar, for whom a park is now named in Casper, coached for ten years and won 129 games. In 1958, Swede Erickson left his football coaching duties at Natrona High School and took over the T-Birds, who now played their games in the brand new Administration Gymnasium. The T-Birds finished below .500 in three of their first four seasons under Erickson. One of his players, LeRoy Strausner, later became President of Casper College. The T-Birds were competitive but not outstanding. After that, T-Bird fortunes would change dramatically.

47 year book

A player by the name of Flynn Robinson happened along, and led Casper College to its first appearance in the national tournament in 1963. Robinson, who would later star for many years in the National Basketball Association, shot the ball from behind his head, but more importantly with deadly long-range accuracy. “If we had had the 3-point line back then, nobody would have broker his record,” Erickson once said. Robinson was so good as a freshman that the University of Wyoming took him for his sophomore year (something that didn’t sit very well with Erickson).

Ed Samelton, Ralph Brisker, Bob Lackey and Abe Steward would lead the T-Birds back to Hutchinson een times in the following ten seasons. Lackey was probably the most famous T-Bird going on to a great career with Marquette and in the NBA. Steward taught at Casper College. Gerald Mattinson, a coach in Rock Springs, and Tony Martin were All Americans who came along later to carry the banner.

Erickson, of course, went on to become a legend of sorts in Casper and Wyoming before his retirement in 1986. He won 638 games by the time he hung up his whistle. He made his mark on the game not just regionally, but nationally and internationally as well. He became president of the National Junior College Athletic Association, and served on the United States Olympic Committee. Later, he was voted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame. Hardly a high school or college anywhere did not know “Swede.”

Pat Rafferty, a native of Buffalo, John Morrison and Ed Toohey have followed Erickson’s lead, and two more regional championship banners have been hoisted.

In the meantime, women’s basketball came on the scene in 1971. Much of the credit for its arrival goes to Jean Wheatley, physical education instructor who later became athletic director after Erickson’s departure. Her enthusiasm and energy were infectious. In all, there have been right women’s coaches, beginning with Wheatley. While there were successes in the 70s and 80s, it wasn’t until the 1986-87 season that the women T-Birds equaled their men counterparts in national prominence. Abe Steward took his team to the national tournament that year.

In 1989, Gary Becker arrived, and women’s basketball took another giant step. Casper College, under his direction, has won an average 23 games per year and made two more appearances in the national tournament. Along the way, Becker has had five Distinguished Academic All Americans. In 1995, his team was nominated for national academic team honors, a first.

Tara Matson

Through all those 50 years, one thing has been a constant: year in and year out, Casper College has hit the hardwood with a powerful contingent. Casper College T-Bird men brought home the Region IX championship and seven runner-up titles since 1995. The women T-Birds brought home six runner-up titles and six regional titles since that time.

Dan Russell became the college’s thirteenth men’s basketball coach in 2103. In his first three seasons, Russell has continued a strong winning tradition that is fast-paced and disciplined with three appearances in the Region IX tournament and each season winning more than 20 games per season.

2016-17 marked Dwight Gunnare’s ninth season at Casper College and his 34th season overall. He has coached the women T-Birds to two Region IX championships and over the course of his career has received seventeen coach-of-the-year recognitions. He was inducted into the Black Hills State University Coaching Hall of Fame in 2015. Coach Gunnare’s winning record proves he’s building leaders on and off the court.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Men's Coaching Records


Coach


Years


W


L


Pct


Bill Hileman

1945-1946

0

2

.000

Walter Dowler

1946-1947

21

6

.778

Joe Schwartz

1947-1948

16

11

.593

Mike Sedar

1948-1958

129

96

.533

Swede Erickson

1958-1986

638

220

.743

Pat Rafferty

1986-1988

47

23

.671

John Morrison

1988-1993

98

68

.590

Ed Toohey

1993-2003

177

140

.551

Bill Johnson

2003-2004

18

12

.600

Doug Stewart

2004-2006

20

39

.339

Gary Becker

2006-2008

40

26

.606

Joel Davidson

2008-2012

110

54

.671

Dan Russell


2013-2018


113


49


.698


Totals

1945-2018

1,407

784

.557

 

Men's Region IX Champions and Runners-Up

Year


 

Champion


 

Runner-up


 

1962

Trinidad State (6th)

Northeastern Colorado

1963

Casper College (3rd)

Northeastern Colorado

1964

Casper College (2nd)

Northwest Wyoming

1965

Northeastern Colorado (4th)

Northwest Wyoming

1966

Casper College (11th)

Northwest Wyoming

1967

Northwest Wyoming

Lamar College

1968

Northeastern Colorado (4th)

Lamar College

1969

Northwest Wyoming

Lamar College

1970

Casper College (4th)

Trinidad State

1971

Casper College (5th)

Northeastern Colorado

1972

Casper College (7th)

Trinidad State

1973

CC – Platte, Nebraska (12th)

Casper College

1974

Northeastern Colorado (8th)

CC – Platte, Nebraska

1975

Sheridan College (12th)

Western Wyoming

1976

Casper College (10th)

Southeast Nebraska

1977

Sheridan College (10th)

Casper College

1978

Casper College (5th)

Trinidad State

1979

Western Nebraska (12th)

Dawson College

1980

Northeastern Colorado (12th)

Casper College

1981

Western Nebraska (15th)

Southeast Nebraska

1982

Southeast Nebraska (3rd)

Western Nebraska

1983

Northeastern Colorado (8th)

Sheridan College

1984

Northeastern Colorado (9th)

Sheridan College

1985

Casper College (14th)

Laramie County

1986

Trinidad State (8th)

Southeast Nebraska

1987

Laramie County

Northwest Wyoming

1988

Casper College (6th)

Trinidad State

1989

Eastern Wyoming (14th)

Sheridan College

1990

Western Nebraska (12th)

Casper College

1991

Eastern Wyoming

Trinidad State

1992

Casper College (11th)

Eastern Wyoming

1993

Western Nebraska

Eastern Wyoming

1994

Western Nebraska (7th)

Mid-Plains College

1995

Western Nebraska (3rd)

Casper College

1996

Casper College (12th)

Western Nebraska

1997

Western Nebraska (14th)

McCook

1998

Western Nebraska (14th)

Casper College

1999

Western Nebraska (7th)

Casper College

2000

Northeastern Colorado (7th)

Western Nebraska

2001

Western Nebraska (14th)

Northeast Nebraska

2002

Sheridan College (14th)

Eastern Wyoming

2003

Western Nebraska (14th)

Eastern Wyoming

2004

astern Wyoming (8th)

Dawson College

2005

Northeastern Colorado (14th)

Eastern Wyoming

2006

Sheridan College (14th)

Northeastern JC

2007

Northeastern Colorado

Casper College

2008

Eastern Wyoming (14th)

Northeastern JC

2009

Lamar (5th)

North Platte

2010

North Platte (11th)

Sheridan College

2011

Western Wyoming (7th)

Sheridan College

2012

Otero College (5th)

Casper College

2013

North Platte

Otero JC

2014

Northeastern JC

Gillette College

2015

Northwest College

Gillette College

2016

Gillette College

Casper College

2017

Gillette College

Laramie County

2018

Western Nebraska

Otero JC

 

Men's Season Win-Loss Records 

Year


W


L


1947-48

16

11

1948-49

10

10

1949-50

22

9

1950-51

19

7

1951-52

12

10

1952-53

18

7

1953-54

7

11

1954-55

9

13

1955-56

16

8

1956-57

8

11

1957-58

8

10

1958-59

7

13

1959-60

9

13

1960-61

21

4

1961-62

12

14

*1962-63

26

5

*1963-64

24

6

1964-65

20

7

*1965-66

24

9

1966-67

14

14

1967-68

12

15

1968-69

22

4

*1969-70

32

3

*1970-71

30

4

*1971-72

30

4

1972-73

24

4

1973-74

21

9

1974-75

25

10

*1975-76

28

9

1976-77

29

5

*1977-78

36

4

1978-79

22

11

1979-80

28

6

1980-81

20

12

1981-82

26

9

1982-83

27

 6

1983-84

16

11

*1984-85

30

9

1985-86

21

10

1986-87

17

15

*1987-88

30

8

1988-89

15

17

1989-90

22

13

1990-91

25

7

*1991-92

25

11

1992-93

11

20

1993-94

14

16

1994-95

16

15

*1995-96

30

 6

1996-97

18

12

1997-98

20

13

1998-99

22

10

1999-00

19

12

2000-01

18

14

2001-02

9

21

2002-03

11

21

2003-04

18

11

2004-05

11

20

2005-06

10

20

2006-07

20

14

2007-08

20

12

2008-09

13

19

2009-10

24

9

2010-11

24

 9

2011-12

25

9

2012-13

24

8

2013-14

20

12

2014-15

22

9

2015-16

25

9

2016-17

24

9

2017-18

22

10

*NJCAA Tournament teams

 

Women's Coaching Records

Coach


 

Years


W


L


Pct


Jean Wheatley

1972-73

9

1

.900

Kathy DeSmith

1973-76

31

15

.674

Lynn Reynolds

1976-77

7

10

.412

Bobby Hilke

1977-79

22

15

.594

Sharon Hoffman

1979-81

20

22

.476

Karen Johnson

1981-85

32

63

.337

Abe Steward

1985-89

79

38

.675

Gary Becker

1989-03

328

104

.759

Angelo Hill

2003-08

102

67

.604

Dwight Gunnare


2009-2018


262


70


.789


Totals

1972-2018

892

406

.687

 

Women's Region IX Champions and Runners-Up

Year


 

Champion


 

Runner-up


 

1977

Northeast Neb.

Northeastern Colo.

1978

Eastern Wyo.

Northeastern Colo.

1979

Eastern Wyo.

Casper College

1980

Western Wyo.

McCook

1981

Western Wyo.

McCook

1982

Central Wyo.

Northeastern Colo.

1983

Northeastern Colo.

Otero JC

1984

Central Wyo.

Northwest Wyo.

1985

Central Wyo.

Southeast Neb.

1986

Central Wyo.

Casper College

1987

Casper College (9th)

Western Wyo.

1988

Miles CC, Mont.

Northeast Neb.

1989

Miles CC, Mont.

Sheridan College

1990

Miles CC, Mont.

Northwest Wyo.

1991

Sheridan College

Western Neb.

1992

Casper College (7th)

Western Neb.

1993

Western Neb.

Casper College

1994

Casper College (12th)

Western Neb.

1995

Western Neb.

Casper College

1996

Casper College (3rd)

Western Neb.

1997

Casper College (7th)

Western Neb.

1998

Western Neb. (4th)

Sheridan College

1999

Sheridan College (7th)

Western Neb.

2000

Casper College (9th)

Western Neb.

2001

Western Neb. (12th)

Northeast Neb.

2002

Northeastern Colo. (12th)

Casper College

2003

Western Neb. (12th)

Casper College

2004

Western Neb. (4th)

Otero JC

2005

Western Neb.

Casper College

2006

Western Neb. (8th)

Casper College

2007

Casper College (12th)

Western Neb.

2008

Western Neb. (8th)

Miles CC

2009

Sheridan College (12th)

Northeastern JC

2010

Casper College (4th)

Otero JC

2011

Casper College (9th)

Otero JC

2012

Otero JC

Northeastern JC

2013

Western Nebraska

Gillette College

2014

Western Nebraska

Western Wyoming

2015

Western Nebraska

Northeastern JC

2016

Gillette Casper

College

2017

Western Nebraska

Eastern Wyoming

2018

Casper College

Western Nebraska

 

Women's Season Win-Loss Records

Year


W


L


Before 76

40

16

1976-77

7

10

1977-78

8

9

1978-79

14

6

1979-80

10

10

1980-81

10

12

1981-82

5

17

1982-83

14

9

1983-84

7

17

1984-85

6

20

1985-86

25

7

1986-87

27

5

1987-88

18

10

1988-89

9

16

1989-90

13

13

1990-91

23

5

1991-92

33

2

1992-93

25

2

1993-94

26

6

1994-95

20

6

1995-96

28

6

1996-97

32

4

1997-98

19

9

1998-99

21

11

1999-00

21

13

2000-01

17

12

2001-02

27

5

2002-03

23

10

2003-04

19

14

2004-05

16

19

2005-06

21

13

2006-07

26

9

2007-08

20

12

2008-09

26

7

2009-10

33

5

2010-11

25

11

2011-12

30

3

2012-13

24

8

2013-14

21

11

2014-15

22

9

2015-16

28

5

2016-17

22

9

2017-18

31

3

Total

892

406