Greatest basketball player of them all, and Brainerd had turned out many a good one through the years, was one who played on two Warrior cage teams which finished 10-6 and 11-7 during the regular slate and then bowed out to C-I and Wadena in the district tourneys of 1943 and 1944.
He's the present basketball coach at Gustavus Adolphus college, Myer (Whitey) Skoog; but far better known during the '50's as a jump-shooting guard with the powerful Minneapolis Lakers.
Present Brainerd athletic director and baseball coach Kermit Aase was Skoog's cage mentor and Chuck Warnberg, Ray Caswell, John Benson John Garvey, Loren Waller, Verne Gustafson, Mary Bollig, Cliff Borders, Myron Staby, Jim Gardner, Eivind Hoff, Jack Hoffman, Norm Flaaten, Arnie Swanson, LeRoy Gaustad, Bob Ferrell, Joe Nolan and Don McComas were his Warrior teammates.
Named to the all-District 24 team both, seasons, Skoog was named its co-captain in 1944, the year Crosby-Ironton went all the way to the state finals before bowing to Minneapolis Patrick Henry and its 6-9 center Jim Mcintyre, 51-42. The 18 points he scored against Bemidji and C-I were high one-game efforts for the Warriors that season and his 18 the preceding season against Wadena was second only to Garvey's 22 against St. Cloud.
In addition in 1944, it was noted that "Myer Skoog had the outstanding defensive record as center on the Brainerd team, scoring 201 points to the opposing center's 96 in 16 games." In 1943, Skoog also was named to the Central Eight all-conference team and he repeated the following year. Brainerd lost to C-I all three times the teams met, 38-33, 34-31 in overtime and then in the semis of the district, 32-30; coming back for third place with a 41-29 triumph over Aitkin.
The next year, C-I clubbed Brainerd, 39-34 and 45-20 during the regular slate; but it was Wadena putting the Warriors out of the district tourney with a 45-36 win in the semis after the Warriors had stopped Aitkin, 38-36. The two teams split during the regular season, Brainerd winning its opening game, 38-31; but losing 56-47 to the Indians later.
Undaunted at not getting to show his wares in a state tournament, Skoog went on to fame on the hardwood at Jacksonville (Fla.) Naval, the University of Minnesota and then the Minneapolis Lakers.
After joining the Navy in 1944, Skoog starred with the Jacksonville quint and his play there caused many college coaches to make him offers. He chose Minnesota and was a three-year regular sensation with the Gophers, scoring 986 points and captaining the team the last two seasons.
It was Skoog who introduced the jump shot to Minnesota fans. Playing both forward and guard for the Gophers, the six-foot, 180-pounder sank 81 of 85 free throws for an .886 Big 10 percentage in 1951. Selected most valuable player that same season, he won the conference medal for proficiency in scholarship and athletics in the same year. He made the Coaches' All-Big 10 team his final two seasons, played in the College All-Star game against the Rochester Royals in 1951 and then the East-West All-Star game at Madison Square Garden. He was named to the All-America team his senior year.
After his final game as a Gopher, he was paid a standing three-minute ovation by the fans. Whitey then joined the Lakers and was bothered throughout a nevertheless productive career by a right knee cartilage injury, which finally persuaded him to give up the rugged pro grind to accept the head coaching post at Gustavus in 1957.
During his six regular seasons as a Laker, Skoog scored 2,800 points. He was in the playoffs five years for an additional 280 points, giving him 3,080 total points as a professional.
Skoog, who will be 43 this November, enjoyed his best scoring night in a 107-104 loss to Boston's Celtics at Moorhead Feb. 25, 1955 when he counted 31 points.
At Gustavus, where he has now coached for 14 seasons, Skoog is noted for "his warm personality, excellent coaching ability and fine reputation as a player."
Reproduced from the Centennial Edition of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch (1871-1971).