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They weren't the Hoosiers, but...

As basketball is dominating the air and office bracket adventure, I was reminded of a story that is very similar to the season based on the movie "Hoosiers."

Angelo Pizzo wrote "Hoosiers" and told a buddy of mine he did draw, in part, on a season a team from Illinois had. In the movie, the mythical Hickory team started the season without their star and a new coach named Norman Dale. Coach Dale comes off as a crusty dude who had his problems with the players and the small town. The story is mostly based on Milan winning the Indiana title in 1954. The Illinois team didn't have issues. Hebron, Illinois, had a population of 650 in 1952. Ten of those people were on the high school basketball team. They were the Green Giants.

The high school had 98 students. One of them was 6-foot-10-inch Bill Schultz. Two others were the Judson twins, Phil and Paul, and they were really good. Their older brother, Howie, had pitched for the White Sox and was an assistant coach. The head coach was Russ Ahearn. He ended up being my coach in the metropolis of Streator years later. His rules were simple. Dating allowed only on Saturday, take your vitamins, and practice year around. It worked.

Hebron won the state championship in 1952 beating Quincy 64-59 in overtime. Hebron never subbed for any of the starting five. Quincy had 43,500 more people than Hebron. But Hebron had the title.

I once saw coach Ahearn's state championship ring. He showed it to us to fire up a bunch of average white guys trying to be hoopsters. That ploy didn't work, but we sure liked the coach and his stories. They beat the Milan story in Indiana by two years.