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Alpena’s 1970-71 basketball team receives HOF honors

The Alpena Sports HOF 1970-71 basketball team from L to R: Jim Johnston, Doug Weinkauf, Joey Klemens, Tom Lawrence, Pete Muszynski, Bob Ilsley and Butch Feher.

Alpena, Mich. — The Alpena Sports Hall of Fame inducted five individual athletes and one team for the Class of 2018: Melissa (Brousseau) O’Dell, Rachel (Gebauer) Garant, Bill Romstadt, Don Deadman, Wayne Christopherson and the 1970-71 men’s basketball team.

Many of the athletes on the basketball squad had not seen each other for a long time, so players enjoyed meeting back up for the hall of fame. The team, coached by Ray Feher, was made up of 15 athletes and each one played a key role.

“We had three options, pass to Butch, pass to Butch, pass to Butch,” said Joe “Joey” Klemens. “31.1 a game. Not bad. The play worked.”

It was a season that will always be remembered and never to be forgotten because of their unselfish play.

“My job was to get him the ball and that was it,” said Pete Muszynski. “I wasn’t allowed to shoot or anything.”

Ray “Butch” Feher, an Alpena Sports Hall of Fame inductee from the class of 1989, was the hot hand for the Wildcats. He would go on to play college ball at Vanderbilt, and then he would join the Phoenix Suns in the NBA.

“I probably shot more than I should have at times, but the guys that I played with they were great about it,” said Feher. “It was a team effort. We all felt like it was the best way for us to win games, and it paid off and it worked.”

From starter to bench warmer, everyone contributed on the 1970-71 squad. Thanks to Coach Ray Feher, the Wildcats had endurance and discipline. Players will never forget practice concluding, but coach adding suicides to run at the end.

“He also taught us the value of hustle, and as life has taught us hustle is about 90 percent of the battle,” said Tom Lawrence. “The other ten percent is God’s blessing.”

One of Butch Feher’s favorite memories was playing for his dad Ray.

“He was the head coach, so to play for my dad was very, very special and something, you just don’t get that opportunity very often.”

The talented Wildcats advanced to regionals where they lost to Flint Northern 71-63, finishing with a record of (15-5).

“I think three of those guys played division one basketball,” said Feher. “Two of them played professional basketball, and they beat us by a couple of points but we may not have been the best team, but we were runners up. I’ll put it that way.”

The following year, Feher broke Alpena’s all-time scoring record with 1,435 points. In 2019, the milestone was passed by senior Chris DeRocher. He would end his Wildcat career with 1,625 points.

Alpena’s Chris DeRocher scores 29 points, breaking the all-time scoring record at 1,435 points. (January 22, 2019)

“Very cool and a very nice honor to break the school record that lasted forty years,” said DeRocher.

While Feher, who currently lives in Tennessee, was unable to attend the game when DeRocher broke the record, he was proud of the athlete’s accomplishment.

“I was going like I hope somebody breaks this record before I die,” said Feher. “I’d like to see this happen, but from what everybody tells me Chris is just a great young man.”

Records are made to be broken, and that’s when the legacy continues. A basketball legacy that began with the 1971 team.