HEBRON, Ill. (CBS) — Thursday marks one of the most significant days in Illinois sports history — when Hebron High School in McHenry County – with 98 students in total – won the Illinois State Basketball championship 60 years ago.
As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, the Alden-Hebron Green Giants beat Quincy High School 64-59, in a game memorialized to this day with the town’s water tower.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports
The water tower is painted like a basketball and reads, “Hebron: Home of the 1952 State Champs.”
Starting forward Paul Judson says Alden-Hebron had at least one advantage. He and his twin brother, Phil, had been playing together since the age of 5, starting with making shots together into a wastebasket.
“Tell you what, we had five pretty good darn ballplayers, and we had a great coach,” Judson said. “Psychologically, he knew what he was doing, and fundamentally-wise in basketball, he was very sharp.”
Judson says Coach Russ Ahearn made it work by convincing the father of 6-foot 7-inch center Bill Schultz to free his son from milking cows in the evening, so the boy could play on the team. Schultz had never even played basketball before high school.
The 1952 championship game is memorialized by film maker Dean Rowe who gathered clips of the game in a documentary entitled “Becoming Giants.”