By Vern Cahak
Since Antigo is no longer a member of the Wisconsin Valley Conference, many local basketball fans probably aren’t too interested in the fact that Stevens Point, once a major Red Robin rival, is the No. 1 Division 1 team in Wisconsin.
The undefeated Panthers, boosting a 21-0 record as of Feb. 20, have the WVC championship wrapped up and have a good shot as repeating as D 1 state champions come March 19.
While some Antigo fans could care less about SPASH, there is an Antigo connection. Brothers Sam and Joey Hauser, two of the best Panther players, are grandsons of well-known Antigonians Steve and Lynn Fermanich. Their daughter Stephanie, who lives with her husband, Dave Hauser in Stevens Point, is an assistant director for the WIAA.
Sam Hauser, a 6-6 senior, has been averaging 19.1 points per game, while Joey Hauser, a 6-7 sophomore, averages an even 19 points. Sam has signed a letter of intent to attend Marquette University.
Athletic talent runs deeps in the Fermanich family. Steve was one of Antigo’s all-time great basketball players. He helped the Red Robins win back-to-back Wisconsin Valley Conference championships in the 1961-62 and 1962-63 seasons. He was a first team All-Valley selection in his senior year when he ranked second in scoring with 308 points.
A retired AHS teacher, Steve continues to be involved in Antigo sports. He is the Red Robin varsity golf coach and coaches eighth grade boys’ basketball. He also is the announcer at Antigo basketball games.
Steve and Lynn’s sons, Barry and Matt, followed in their father’s footsteps. Both were three-year starters for the Red Robins, were first team All-conference players and were among the highest scorers in Antigo history. During their brilliant careers, they combined for over 2,000 points. Barry tallied 1,008 points while Matt just missed the 1,000 point mark with 998. Barry netted 218 points as a sophomore in 1985-86, 414 as a junior in 1986-87 and 376 as a senior in 1987-88. Matt led the team in scoring as a sophomore in 1994-95 with 350 points and added 349 as a junior in 1995-96 and 299 as a senior in 1996-97.
To top it off, Barry and Matt played on Antigo state tournament teams, Barry in 1987 and Matt in 1995. They both went on to become outstanding basketball players at the collegiate level.
Following graduation from AHS, Barry was a star player for the University of Minnesota-Duluth basketball team. A four year starter for the Bulldogs who played in 127 consecutive games, Barry was named Northern Interscholastic Conference Most Valuable Player and was selected NAIA District 13 Player of the Year. He was the team’s top scorer with a 13.2 point average and was the assists leader.
Ironically, Barry and Stephanie’s future husband, Dave Hauser, were teammates on the UM-Duluth squad, which qualified for the national tournament in Kansas City for four straight years.
Matt was at three-year starter for the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Blugolds and helped them win the conference title.
On the female side, Stephanie was an outstanding player for the Red Robin girls team. She was a two-year starter and was one of the top scorers in 1983-84 and 1984-85. Oddly enough, her father was head coach at the time.
Stephanie went on to play basketball, softball and volleyball at UW-Superior, where she was named captain and most valuable player on the volleyball squad.
Steve’s wife, Lynn has a talent too, as an accomplished musician.
But it doesn’t end there. Barry’s son, C.J. Fermanich, a junior on the Middleton basketball team, is already making waves with an average of over 14 points a game for one of the highest ranking teams in the state.
Matt and his family reside in Oconomowoc.