ARCOLA — Prior to Friday’s varsity boys’ basketball game against visiting Arthur-Lovington, Arcola will honor its most recent sectional championship team. The tribute is taking place 50 years after the Purple Riders last qualified for a super-sectional.
The 1962-63 and the 1963-64 teams — both coached by Bob Avery — are the only two in school history with back-to-back 25-win seasons.
The 84-year-old Avery, who now lives near San Antonio, will be at the game as will most of the starters on the 1964 super-sectional team: Doug Dunagan, Reggie Finn, Terry Miller, Randy Rothrock and Sam Walton.
“You can’t have a zoo without animals, and you can’t have good basketball teams without terrific players,” Avery said. “The 1963 team won 26 in a row (losing only its first and last games).
“Four of those players returned in 1964, including Terry Miller, who later played in the NFL. He was a real horse. Doug Dunagan was a junior and was the best shooter on the team. They were good kids, and they played as a team.”
Avery’s Arcola teams played during an era when only one state champion was crowned.
“With a small school, you were lucky to get out of the regional,” point guard Rothrock said. “We went to Champaign and beat Coach (Lee) Cabutti for the sectional championship (in 1964).”
Coincidentally, Avery left Arcola after that season to become Cabutti’s assistant, where he stayed until Centennial opened and he became the Chargers’ first boys’ basketball head coach in 1967.
Besides the ex-players and coaches (including Byron Bradford), former cheerleaders and managers will be part of Friday’s pregame ceremony.
“I’m glad they’re doing it that way,” Avery said. “Everybody was involved in the thing. If we (coaches) forgot something, the managers would say, ‘I’ve got it.’ ”
Mike Doyle will be among the managers in attendance. One of the 1963 senior basketball standouts who will be recognized is Jim Monahan, who not only played collegiately at Notre Dame but was also a team captain.
“We accomplished a lot,” Rothrock said, “but we were lucky to have two Hall of Fame coaches (Avery in basketball and Bradford in football) working with us.”
In its history, Arcola has had 11 athletes score at least 1,000 points. Three were from the early 1960s — prior to the three-point shot — and played for Avery: Dunagan, Miller and Monahan.
The 1962-63 team was 26-2. The 1963-64 team was 25-6. The 51 wins are the most ever in a two-year span at Arcola.
“One thing we did pretty well was upgrade the schedule,” Avery said. “We got (Decatur) MacArthur to play us. And Charleston. The (Okaw Valley) Conference was so tough. They had to produce big-time most of the time or we’d be out of it.”
Milford coach Spezia remains hospitalized
MILFORD — Hall of Fame basketball coach John Spezia, in his second year as the Milford boys’ basketball coach and athletic director, hopes to be released from Carle Foundation Hospital on Friday.
He has been a patient since he was injured on a New Year’s Eve morning accident near Hoopeston on his way to practice. Spezia was airlifted to Carle and has undergone three surgeries, two on a shattered right ankle and one on a broken left femur. He also suffered cracked ribs.
“I’m lucky to be alive,” Spezia said.
His Bearcats started the season with wins in their first eight games. Spezia hopes to attend Friday’s home game against La Salette but is unsure when he will resume coaching duties. Assistants Dave Caldwell and Greg Dewerff have been handling the team in his absence.
Spezia is in charge of a Class 1A sectional tournament that will be played at Danville Area Community College.
Third SJ-O pitcher commits
ST. JOSEPH — Senior Brock Immke, from St. Joseph-Ogden, will continue his baseball career at Kankakee Community College. As a junior, he had an 0.81 ERA with a 2-1 record and 34 strikeouts. He picked the Cavaliers over Danville Area Community College and Lincoln Land Community College.
He is the third member of the SJ-O staff who plans to continue his career in college. Spartans teammate Tyler McCormick will join Immke at Kankakee. Hunter Hart has committed to Indiana.
Area kids on campus ...
— Freshman Luke Vaughn, from Centennial, won the shot put for the University of Memphis in his first collegiate meet. His winning toss at Saturday’s Illini Classic was 54 feet, 21/2 inches.
— Senior Camille Parsons, from Urbana, leads the Concordia (Wis.) University team in minutes played per game (32.8) and assists (3.3). She has started every game for a 14-1 squad and is averaging 9.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
— Senior Rachael Brewer, from Tuscola, was a winner for Illinois State University in the 3,000 meters (10 minutes, 6.16 seconds) at the Redbirds’ dual meet against Indiana State University at the Rose-Hulman Sports Center. She is also the facility’s record-holder in the event, set in 2013.
— Sophomore Jamie Blue, from Urbana Uni High, leads Knox College in rebounds (4.9 average). She has played in every game for the 3-11 team and is averaging 9.2 points per game.