Don Hegerle, a leader and playmaker for 1950s San Diego State basketball teams and who later coached at Escondido High, passed away on Sept. 9.
Hegerle, 82, was a fast, slashing guard who fearlessly drove to the basket and fired jump shots for one of the best teams in Aztecs history.
He was a vital player on the 1955-56 Aztec team that overcame three straight losses at the start of the season and went on to post a 23-6 record.
Hegerle averaged 10.9 points and scored 315 points, third highest on the team, which was paced by Tony Pinkins (18.1) and Danny Newport (14.7).
The Aztecs earned a berth in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national tournament in Kansas City by defeating Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, 93-69, Pasadena Nazarene, 78-62, and Humboldt State, 91-63.
After enduring a 30-hour trip to the Midwest by rail, the Aztecs’ opening contest following a first-day bye had a 10:30 a.m. tipoff. They defeated Alderson-Broaddus of Philipi, W.Va, 77-64.
San Diego State’s season came to an end in another contest that began the next morning. The Aztecs were eliminated by Gustavus-Adolphus of St. Peter, Minnesota, 69-60.
Hegerle, who played high school football, basketball, and baseball at Point Loma, was head coach at Escondido for five seasons before going into administration.
The 1957-58 team, paced by brothers Toby and Steve Thurlow and Jim Gabbard, posted a 20-11 season and tied for the Avocado League championship.
Hegerle’s overall record with the Cougars was 73-50.
A lifelong basketball fan, Hegerle’s favorite team became the University of San Diego Toreros. His son-in-law is Ky Snyder, athletics director at USD. Snyder’s wife, Sue, was a standout in track and field at San Pasqual and later the women’s volleyball coach at USD.