Champaign Boys Basketball History
1904-05… (2-0) First season coached by Robert Keeton.
1905-06… (2-1) Coach unknown.
1906-07… (6-1) Coach Glenn.
1907-08… (3-2) Coach unknown.
1908-09… (1-3) Coach unknown.
1909-10… (11-4) Coach E.F. McAdow. The Maroons received a challenge from the “Preps” to play a curtain raiser to the Illinois-Minnesota game. The Maroons accepted and
defeated the “Preps” 20-9. This ended their brilliant season.
1910-11… (7-8) Coach Ben Fischer. Largent was the team captain. The Maroons faced lost to Washington 19-17 in the post season tournament in Decatur. In the second half,
Champaign had nineteen fouls called on her. The Decatur papers stated that Champaign was defeated by a partial referee.
1911-12… No season – World War I??
1912-13… No season – World War I??
1913-14… No season – World War I??
1914-15… No season – World War I??
1915-16… (9-5) Coach Davis. David Brown was the team captain. Experienced men were scarce and out of practice. But regardless of this fact, by the close of the
season the regulars rounded out into a creditable team. The Maroons defeated Danville 24-12 in the Central State Tournament at Bloomington to close the season.
1916-17… (8-5) Coach K.G. Coutchie. Carl Hubbard was the team captain. Hubbard was an ideal captain and was undoubtedly the best man on the team. He was chosen by
Coach Rogers of Decatur, as an all-district tournament running guard. Champaign Hosted the District Tournament where forty-five percent of the gross receipts
Comes to the Athletic Association of the Champaign High School.
1917-18… (10-4) Coach K.G. Coutchie. Ray Hudson was the team captain. Dean Doolen and
three-year standout Carl “Dutch” Hubbard also contributed tremendously. Highlights of the season included wins over Mahomet, 52-17, and Peoria Manual, 15-9. The cagers also beat the eventual State Champions, Centralia, the eventual state champions, in the regular season 33-30. Won the District Championship and qualified for the State Tournament before losing to Normal U-High 28-18.
1918-19… (13-4) Coach K.G. Coutchie. Fred Mercer was the team captain. Beat Centralia 35-21. Won the District Championship and qualified for the State Tournament, beat
Alton Senior High 23-19 before losing to Springfield High School 18-9.
1919-20… (8-6) Coach Van Liew replaced Ken Coutchie as both head football and head
basketball coach. John Frakes was the captain. Won the District Championship and totaled 160 points in four games while holding their opponents to only 48 points. In the final game of the tournament the Maroons defeated Danville 57-14, the most points scored by any team in the tournament. The Maroons lost to Olney in the first round of the state tournament 42-25. Fred Major earned All-State honors.
1920-21… (17-3) Coach John Van Liew Marcus Overton was the captain. Beat Centralia 40-
30. Won the District Championship by winning four games within 30 hours and qualified for the State Tournament, while beating Mt. Vernon, the reigning state champions, 37-27 in the First Round before bowing out to New Trier 29-28. Marcus Overton, John Pickens, George Harrington, and Arthur Dollen were named Honorable Mention All-State. The three losses came by a combined eight points. Was John Pickens, the first African-American to play for Champaign High School?
1921-22… (12-5) Coach Van Liew. Paul Dewhirst was the captain. The Maroons split even
with their old rivals, Urbana, losing the game by the close score of 18-20, and winning the second by the decisive score of 29-19. The squad this year piled up a
total of 454 points to their opponents 303. This is the largest score that has ever been run up by a Champaign basketball team.
1922-23… (18-2) Coach Van Liew. Robert McKay was the captain. This squad began the
season ranked number one in Illinois and proceeded to win their first 14 games. Champaign High School’s 1923 basketball team is rated as the greatest quintet in the history of the school. To end the season, Van Liew arranged a game with Pine Bluff, Arkansas, who were in their way home from the Chicago national tournament. Pine Bluff had previously won the championship of Arkansas and made a good showing in the National meet. Champaign won the game 33-31. After the victory, the Maroons were convinced that they could cope with the strongest in the country. Beside winning eighteen games the team piled up 632 points, more that any other Champaign team has ever scored.
1923-24… (14-5) Coach Les Moyer. Everett Olson was the captain. Won the District Championship. Defeated Centralia 22-12 and split the regular season games with
Cross town rival Urbana. Also, defeated Urbana in the District Tournament 23-16.The Maroons lost to Athens in the Sectional 16-15, after holding Athens to 2 points in
the second half.
1924-25… (21-5) Coach Les Moyer. F.T. Hyland was the captain. Won the District and
Sectional Championships and qualified for the State Tournament. Defeated Marion High School 23-15 and lost to Elgin in the title game 25-17. F.W. McCallister and C.D. Gamble were 1st team All-State selections. F.T. Hyland was named 2nd team All-State. In a post-season game with Urbana, the proceeds of which were used for the relief of tornado-stricken homes in southern Illinois, Champaign played up to her true form and won a 21 to 7 victory.
1925-26… (17-3) Coach Les Moyer. R.E. Fisher was the captain. Won the Big 12 regular season title and the District Championship.
1926-27… (21-8) Coach Les Moyer. Verne Carson was the captain, the state scoring leader
with 319 points. Carson was named to the All-State team. Won the District and Sectional Championships while Qualifying for the State Tournament where they defeated Mt. Olive 34-21 before losing to Mt. Carmel 35-24 in the semifinals. In the third place game, they lost to East St. Louis Sr. 25-20.
1927-28… (16-12) Coach Les Moyer. Roy Carson was the captain. Roy Cekander was the team
scoring leader with 163 points. Won the District Championship by defeating Lovington, Atwood, Tolono, and Monticello.
1928-29… (28-4) Coach Les Moyer. Bill Hagerman and Fred Armstrong were co-captains. Won
the District and Sectional Championships. In the State Tournament, played in the men’s new gymnasium at the University of Illinois, the squad defeated Mt. Carmel, 43-30, and Freeport High School, 40-24, before losing in the State title game to Johnston City 30-21. Bill Hagerman and Cox were 1st team All-State selections. Hall, Goudie and Dexter were 2nd team All-State selections.
1929-30… (25-8) Coach Les Moyer. Albert Hall was the captain. Won the District
Championship by defeating University High 51-6; Argenta, 37-12; Sadorus, 23-18; and Monticello, 33-9.
1930-31… (7-18) Coach Les Moyer. Boyer was the captain. Struggled through the regular
season, finishing 9th in the Big 12 Conference, lost to cross-town rival, Urbana, twice.
1931-32… (13-13) Coach Les Moyer. Burt Shauger was the captain. High expectations for
the season came to an end when two players were dropped from the team for breach of training rules. Champaign split two games with Urbana.
1932-33… (18-7) Coach Les Moyer. Max Peterson was the captain. The Maroons finished second in the Big 12 Conference race with the only blemish coming at the hands
of their oldest rival, Urbana.
1933-34… (14-13) Coach Les Moyer. Bob Costelo was the captain. Won the District and
Sectional Championships while qualifying for the State Tournament before losing in the first round to Chicago Marshall 37-17. Champaign entered post-season play with a record of 4-6 in the conference.
1934-35… (18-3) Coach Les Moyer. Captain unknown. The Maroons finished conference play
with a record of 5-5. Won the District and Sectional Championships while qualifying for the State Tournament. They defeated Highland Park (Deerfield-Shields) 25-21. In this game the outstanding spectacle was the sharp shooting of Joshua Parker, who shot 100% from the field to help contribute to the victory. Springfield High took the Maroons down in the State title game 28-16.
1935-36… (12-11) Coach Les Moyer. Bob Bates was the captain. This was the first season
in the gymnasium of what is now known as Harry Combes Gymnasium. For the first time in 17 years, Champaign was host at a tournament. In holding the Sectional Tournament in the new Junior High School gymnasium, Champaign ceased to remain in the background and proceeded to step out in the tournament world. The new gym,
with its seating capacity of 2,500 was ideal, and the officials cooperated in every way and provided every form of entertainment for the enjoyment of the fans between the games on each night.
1936-37… (22-4) Coach Les Moyer. Eddie Hart was the captain. Won the District Championship. The Maroon basketball team completed one of the most successful
seasons that they have experienced for quite some time by losing only three games on their regular schedule, and these by either a one or two point margin.
1937-38… (16-8) Coach Les Moyer. Captain unknown. Won the Regional and Sectional
Championships while qualifying for the State Tournament where they lost in the first round to Johnston City 32-26. In order to play in the state, the Maroons had to face the Tigers of Urbana in the final game of the Sectional at Champaign. With only 17 seconds remaining and the score tied 24 all, the Maroons sank the decisive points 28-24. However the Maroons exited early in the State tournament, as the red hot Johnston City beat them in George Huff Gymnasium by the score of 32-16, thereby ending the Moyer era. Was this the first year for Regionals?
1938-39… (16-11) Former U of I baseball great, Harry Combes, is named the new head coach.
Eddie Armstrong was the captain. Won the Sectional Championship while qualifying for the State Tournament where they defeated Dwight 41-30 before losing in the semi-final game to Centralia 41-35.
1939-40… (26-8) Coach Harry Combes. Ray Grierson was the captain. Champaign was the Big
12 Conference runner-up, losing to Urbana twice, once on a half-court shot by Ken Waldron. The Maroons avenged the two regular season losses by defeating Urbana in Sectional, 20-19. The playoff system of the time allowed the first and second place teams in the Region to advance to the Sectional. Champaign won the Sectional Championship and finished fourth in the State Tournament. In the State Tournament, CHS defeated Chicago Crane 44-25 and Salem 34-30 before losing to Herrin 21-17 in the semifinal game. They lost to Moline High School 51-33 in the third place game.
1940-41… (26-3) Coach Harry Combes. Jim Torrence was the captain. The Combesmen
captures the Big 12 Championship behind the heroics of Sid McAllister, Paul Jones, Dean Woody, and Johnny Tarrant. McAllister scored 20 points in a 45-25 win over Tuscola and Jones followed suit with 17 in a 52-21 blowout of St. Joe. In the annual Champaign-Urbana match up, the Maroons held Urbana All-Stater Fred Green to 13 points in a 30-28 overtime thriller won by Bud Walter’s field goal with 15 seconds remaining.
1941-42… (22-7) Coach Harry Combes. Won the Regional Championship. Jim Torrence was the captain. Champaign defeated Urbana twice during the regular season.
1942-43… (25-6) Coach Harry Combes. Charley Spencer was the captain. The Maroons shared
the regular season Big 12 title with Decatur. Won the regular season Big 12 title. Won the Regional and Sectional Championships, while qualifying for the State Tournament. Charley Spencer was as All-State selection. Champaign defeated St. Joe in the opening round of the Regional, 92-15, en route to yet another Regional crown. Champaign bowed out in the Elite Eight to Salem in overtime.
1943-44… (31-6) Coach Harry Combes. Won the Regional and Sectional Championships, while qualifying for the State Tournament. Finished 4th in state. In the first round of
the state tournament, Champaign defeated Mt. Carmel 44-32 and defeated Canton in the Quarterfinals 57-42. In the Semifinals, the Maroons were defeated by Taylorville 40-36 in the closing seconds of the game. Chicago South Shore defeated Champaign 52-34 in the third place game. Jesse Clements paced the Maroons through the tournament by scoring 42 points in four games and was placed on the all-tournament team.
1944-45… (34-2) Coach Harry Combes Jesse Clements was the captain. Won the Regional and
Sectional Championships, while qualifying for the State Tournament. Finished 2nd in state. In the first round Champaign defeated Cicero (Morton) 47-46. The Maroons crushed Somonauk 77-28 in the quarterfinals. Facing the Blue Devils of Quincy in the semifinals, the Maroons were up to the task and defeated Quincy 50-32. The Maroons faced conference foe, Decatur, in the finals and put up a strong fight, but fell short losing to the Runnin’ Reds 62-54. Sophomore, Ted Beach, and Jesse Clements led the Maroons in scoring through the tournament with 62 and 49 points respectively. Jesse Clements earned all-tournament honors. Champaign finished no.1 in the AP Final Regular Season Poll.
1945-46… (38-1) Coach Harry Combes. Won the regular season Big 12 title. Won the
Regional and Sectional Championships en route to qualifying and winning the State Tournament. The Maroons defeated Galesburg 49-40 and Marion 55-43 to advance to the semifinals where they faced a tough Rockford East team. The Combesmen reigned supreme over the Eastsiders winning the 53-47. In the championship game Champaign faced “America’s Winningest Team,” the Centralia Orphans. Ted Beach scored 22 points and Jim Cottrell added 14 in what proved to be the best game of the tournament, the Maroons conquered the Orphans 54-48. Champaign’s only state championship in basketball. Juniors Ted Beach and Jim Cottrell earned all-tournament honors. Champaign again finished atop the AP Regular Season Final Poll. Ted Beach was an All-State selection.
1946-47… (34-4) Coach Harry Combes. Won the regular season Big 12 title by going
undefeated in the conference, 10-0. Won the Regional and Sectional Championships, while qualifying for the State Tournament. In the state tournament, the Maroons downed Murphysboro, edged out top-rated Dundee on Ray Walters’ last second basket, and out pointed their Big Twelve rival, Pekin, only to drop the final contest, 58-37, to Paris. The Maroons also lost to Paris during the regular season. Finished 2nd in the state. Ted Beach was the second leading scorer in tournament, an All-tournament choice and an All-State selection for the second straight year. Finished the season averaging 57.4 points per game, a state record. Champaign finished 5th in the AP Final Regular Season Poll.
Combes amassed an astounding 254-46 record and led seven teams to State in nine years as Champaign’s head coach. “The Builder of Champions” moved on to the University of Illinois, where he would establish an Illini mark for career wins with 316. His record stood until 1990, when Lou Henson earned his 317th victory at the school. Combes left an undeniable legacy at Champaign that would influence coaches and players for years to come. In 1966, the school named its gymnasium in his honor.
1947-48… (13-15) Former assistant coach, Harold Jester, takes over the helm as the head
coach for Champaign. Harry Combes was named the new head basketball at the University of Illinois. CHS won the Regional at Fisher by defeating St. Joe 54-30, Uni High 61-29, and Fisher 33-26. In the Sectional, the Maroons beat Danville 52-51 and then tromped Hoopeston 51-33 to advance to the “Sweet Sixteen.” Champaign lost in overtime to eventual state runner-up, Rockford East, 54-53. Rodney Fletcher was an All-Tournament selection.
1948-49… (17-12) Coach Harold Jester. Captain was Gene Ward. The regional crown came to
Champaign after victories over Mahomet, Fisher and Monticello. Then in the Sectional, little Potomac of Vermillion County beat top rated Danville for the biggest upset of the year. Champaign battled it out with this great bunch of scrappers and gained a 35-31 victory and the cherished trip to Huff gym for the seventh straight year. In the initial game at the State Tourney, history repeated itself; Champaign lost in an overtime game. Hillsboro went on to win second place, just as Rockford East did last year. Once again, the Maroons had played their best ball of the season in tournament play.
1949-50… (14-12) Coach Harold Jester. Barry McDermott was the captain and the voted the
teams most valuable player. Champaign defeated Urbana in the regular season battle, 37-32. The Maroons lost to Monticello in the final game of the regional tournament. John wrestler was the winner of the free throw trophy with a .647 average.
1950-51… (13-13) Coach Harold Jester. Regional Champs! After a year’s absence, the
regional trophy came back to Champaign. In the championship game with Mahomet the CHS’ers started slow and were trailing 10-8 at the end of the first stanza. Then the roof fell in as Champaign began puncturing the Bulldog zone to pile up a 28-15 halftime score. During the last half, the Jestermen continued pouring in points and the game ended 61-45. Clarence Burks scored 22 points in the regional final. The came to an end when Champaign was ousted from the section tournament by Hoopeston in 41-39 contest.
1951-52… (23-7) Coach Harold Jester. Loren Leach was the captain. Won the Regional and
Sectional titles while qualifying for the State Tournament. The Maroons won the Regional tournament by defeating Mahomet 55-36, Urbana 44-26, and Unity 53-41. Champaign then went on to win the Sectional Tournament by defeating Homer 53-44 and Bloomington 58-48. Champaign lost to tiny Hebron, a school with 98 students, led by Paul and Phil Judson, the eventual state champs, in the first round of the state tournament 56-45. Loren Leach led the Maroons with 18 points in the final game of the season.
1952-53… (13-13) Coach Harold Jester. Stanley Butts was the captain. Champaign defeated
cross-town rival, Urbana, three times. The third win coming in the second game of the regional tournament with the Maroons winning 68-53. Champaign’s hopes of a return trip to the state tournament were doused by DeLand-Weldon in the regional final where the Maroons lost 60-52.
1953-54… (16-10) Coach Harold Jester. Won the Regional Championship.
1954-55… (7-20) Coach Harold Jester. Rea Jones was the captain. In the regional final,
Champaign lost to Monticello by 64-56. Captain Jones fouled in the first four minutes.
1955-56… (12-15) Coach Harold Jester. Jim Barger and Ken Head were co-captains. Won the
Regional Championship. The Maroons won the Regional Title by defeating University High 72-42, Urbana 47-44 and Monticello 64-48. The Maroons again defeated Urbana three times in the season. The season ended with an 87-66 loss to Newman in the sectional.
1956-57… (24-6) Champaign hires Lee Cabutti to take the helm for the Maroons. John
Easterbrook was the captain. Won the Regional, Sectional, and the school’s first Super-Sectional Championship while qualifying for the state tournament. In the Super-Sectional, Champaign defeated Maroa 57-56, led by Easterbrook’s 19 points and Don Hepler’s 17 points. The Maroons lost to Ottawa in quarterfinals 54-51.
1957-58… (16-10) Coach Lee Cabutti. The Maroons defeated Urbana twice during the regular
season. In the second game against the Tigers, Larry Cannon and Jack Gasche’s 31 combined points led Champaign. After sailing past University High of Urbana in their first game of the regional tournament, 52-28, the Champaign cagers were edged out by an excited and sharp-shooting Unity squad. Unity had enjoyed one of its best seasons in years and narrowly pressed by CHS, 52-44. Larry Cannon was high point man for Champaign with 18 points.
1958-59… (16-11) Coach Lee Cabutti. The Maroons once again defeated Urbana twice during
the regular season. Champaign won the Regional Championship by defeating Uni High 56-20, Unity 59-47 and Monticello 45-39. Bob Butler led the way with a three-game total of 46 points. CHS was then ousted from the sectional by Danville Schlarman. Although leading 17-4 at the first quarter, the Maroon-men could not hold down the surging Hilltoppers. Bob Butler, high scorer along with twin brother Nate, was honored on the WCIA Big Twelve team.
1959-60… (16-10) Coach Lee Cabutti. The Maroon again defeated Urbana twice during the
regular season. Champaign won the Regional Championship by defeating Bement 65-45, Mahomet-Seymour 46-43, and Monticello 49-36. Danville Schlarman once again ended CHS’s season in the Sectional by defeating the Maroons 44-39.
1960-61… (19-8) Coach Lee Cabutti. Willie Clark set a new single-game scoring record by
recording 33 points in a 73-43 victory over Mattoon. Champaign copped won the Regional Championship by beating Uni High 67-38, Urbana 52-49, and Monticello 40-21. Val Bush, the Maroons’ All-State guard, and Willie Clark were exceptional throughout the tournament. Champaign’s first round foe in the sectional was the small but flashy Sheldon squad, whom the Maroons downed to the score of 54-46. In the final round of the sectional, CHS was forced to play their old nemesis, Danville Schlarman. After a tense, thrilling game, the Hilltoppers won in the last seconds, 50-48.
1961-62… (8-16) Coach Lee Cabutti. After losing every starter from the 1960-1961 squad,
the Maroons found out inexperience was not the only reason for the poor season; Champaign played some very stiff competition. An illustration of this would be the fact that ten of the Maroons’ sixteen losses were at the hands of the state’s “Sweet Sixteen,” including two losses to State Champion, Stephen Decatur. F.M. Walker was a bright spot for the struggling Maroons.
1962-63… (15-11) Coach Lee Cabutti. Cabutti recorded his 200th career win and 100th win as
coach of the Maroons. The Maroons finished the season by winning eleven of their last fifteen games. This success in the latter portion of the season was largely due to a change in offense that saw the Cagers slow the game considerable, passing and cutting until the defense eased up, providing a high percentage shot. During a five game losing streak, Coach Cabutti decided to slow down the offense to a very deliberate style, which was immediately named “stall ball.” The Maroons won the Regional Championship by crushing Bellflower, 59-33 in the opening round. In the semi-finals, the Maroons took on top seeded Mahomet-Seymour and pulled a 34-32 upset, as F.M. Walker was high point man with 12. In the Championship game, it was Don Langhoff all the way, as the lanky senior dumped in 20 points and played his best game in the Maroons’ 60-47 victory. Rantoul beat the Maroons 52-51, on a last second fifteen foot shot.
1963-64… (15-14) Coach Lee Cabutti. Won the Regional Championship. Once again, a lack
of size played the deciding factor in Coach Cabutti’s decision to implement the “slow break” style of basketball. In the first cross-town basketball tilt of 1964, the Maroons reversed the inappropriate Urbana slogan of “We don’t sweat Champaign” with a decisive 34-26 victory, out rebounding the taller Tigers 32-19.
1964-65… (16-10) Coach Lee Cabutti. Won the Regional Championship. Chuck Spencer, Mike
Butler, Henry Wood and Percy Herod were Co-Captains. Coach Cabutti implemented a new style of basketball at Champaign, employing a pressing squad and a scoring squad.
1965-66… (14-12) Coach Lee Cabutti. The Maroons defeated Urbana 52-46 to open the new
1966-67… (27-5) Coach Lee Cabutti. Won the Regional, Sectional and Super-Sectional
Championships while qualifying for the state tournament. Coach Cabutti unleashed a lethal new, fast-moving attack, with obviously favorable results. Leading the attack were two six-five board cleaners in the tall forms of senior Bob Scofield and sophomore Clyde Turner. After bumping off cross-town rival, Urbana, 65-46, the Maroons climbed to 14th in the state rankings. In the Super-Sectional, the Maroons defeated Stephen Decatur 36-35 in advancing the State Tournament. Larry Jackson’s 26 points wasn’t enough to hold off 3rd place finisher, Springfield, and Dave Robisch in an Elite Eight 64-61 loss.
1967-68… (21-5) Coach Lee Cabutti. Champaign has two high schools, Centennial and
Central. Coach Cabutti is joined on the bench by his new varsity assistant, Coleman Carrodine. Cabutti earned his 100th victory as coach of CHS by downing Rantoul, 81-50.
1968-69… (30-4) Coach Lee Cabutti. Won the Big 12 Conference, Regional, Sectional and
Super-Sectional Championships, while qualifying for the state tournament. The Maroons finished 3rd in the State Tournament. Coach Cabutti, known for his man-to-man style of defense, also used zone defense this season, including a decisive full-court zone press. Clyde Turner officially became the highest scorer in Central High School’s history by breaking the record set by Ted Beach in 1944. He achieved this feat at the Champaign-Urbana game, February 14, by sinking a 20-foot jump shot. Time-out was called by Champaign and the new record holder received congratulations from its old owner. He achieved the highest total points scored in the IHSA State Basketball Tournament with 91 points, which boosted his prep total to 1805. In the Super-Sectional game against Normal Community, the Maroons outlasted the Ironmen in a 3-overtime game, 55-53. Clyde Turner’s 27 points and Joe McNeal’s 18 points helped pace CHS over Galesburg, 62-57, in the Elite Eight. In the Final Four, the Maroons lost to Proviso East 37-36. In the Third-Place game, Clyde Turner sank 16-25 shots en route to 37 points to lead Champaign to a 56-49 victory over Aurora East. Clyde Turner was named to the All-Tournament team and CHS finished 9th in the Final AP Regular Season Poll.
1969-70… (13-14) Coach Lee Cabutti.
1970-71… (21-9) Coach Lee Cabutti. Won the Regional Championship by defeating Centennial 65-44 and Rantoul 54-52. CHS lost to Danville in the first round of the
1971-72… (17-10) Coach Lee Cabutti. The highlight of the year was when the Maroons, in a
display of spectacular last minute heroics captured the trophy at the Centralia Holiday Basketball Tournament for the first time in Champaign Central’s history. Mac Turner was the team’s Most Valuable Player. Champaign trounced cross-town rival, Urbana twice during the regular season, 61-38 and 54-41.
1972-73… (11-15) Coach Lee Cabutti. The highlight of the season came at the Centralia
Holiday Tournament where the Maroons won the consolation title by defeating West Frankfort, Elgin Larkin and Wheeling. CHS again defeated Urbana twice during the
Regular season, 52-48 and 58-53. Coach Cabutti said “This year’s team showed what happens when you set modest goals and stick to them.” As a result of an article in the Centinal, the student newspaper at Centennial, ridiculing the Maroons for their performance. Coach Cabutti challenged his men. They were up to the task winning 3 of their final four games of the season. Each Centinal staff member apologized in person to the offended parties individually and their paper printed formal apology also.
1973-74… (8-18) Coach Lee Cabutti. At the beginning of the season, Coach Cabutti had 299
Maroon victories under his belt and it soon became apparent that number 300 wasn’t going to come easy. After losing it’s first six games of the season, Coach Cabutti finally captured the elusive 300th victory by defeating Lincoln, 38-36. In the first game of the Centralia Holiday Tournament, the Maroons were defeated by Wheeling and dropped to 1-9 but then surprised everyone by upending Homewood Flossmoor, Mount Vernon, and West Frankfort to win the consolation bracket for the second straight year. A 46-42 victory over Decatur gave Coach Cabutti his 400th career win. Ninety-four of those wins came in his five years as head coach at Herrin High School.
1974-75… (8-17) Coach Lee Cabutti. The Maroons lost several heartbreakers this year,
including three double-overtime losses. Fans agreed the leaders of the team were Bill Stahl, Steve Yount, and Dave Suttle.
1975-76… (15-11) Coach Lee Cabutti. Won the Regional Championship. The high point of
the season was Central’s victory over Urbana the second time the teams met. The cagers played control basketball, defeating the frustrated Tigers 46-42. Terry Turner, high scorer for the season, averaged 17 points per game.
1976-77… (19-8) Coach Lee Cabutti. Won the Regional Championship. “The conference was
the strongest I’ve seen it,” asserted coach Cabutti. High points of the season included a 50-47 victory over conference power Lincoln and a 58-47 road victory over rival Urbana. Terry turner had 27 points and Craig Drablos had his best all-around game to lead the Maroons past the Tigers.
1977-78… (11-14) Coach Lee Cabutti. The boys’ basketball team battled through a tough
season. The team started out well winning the Thanksgiving Tournament in Decatur where Bill Keaton and Kevin Cross made the tournament all-star team. About next year’s team, Cabutti said there are two returning letterman, Bill Keaton and Curtis McFarland. “We will have the two best guards in Central Illinois. Now we need someone to help them.”
1978-79… (15-12) Coach Lee Cabutti. Won the Regional Championship. Picked to occupy the
cellar of the conference, the Maroons went on to defeat Centennial in the first game of the regular season. One of the high points of the year came at Bloomington where the cagers beat the conference champions 55-54 on a last second free throw. The team earned a number one ranking in the regional tournament after beating all the area schools including wins of 51-46 and 59-52 against Urbana. The regionals were again in the “snake pit” of Combes Gym.
1979-80… (7-16) Coach Lee Cabutti. The young team, composed of four sophomores, four
juniors and four seniors, was also hampered by a short average height of 6’1” and lack of quickness that Coach Cabutti said only experience could overcome. In spite of a losing season, which included a last second 56-55 heartbreaking loss to Urbana and the first defeat of Central by Centennial in four years, the team did score big wins over Springfield, Kankakee, Peoria Woodruff, Rantoul, Urbana and Mattoon.
1980-81… (7-16) Coach Lee Cabutti. Scott Clark, a three-year letterman was, consistent throughout the season. Dave Gardner and Anthony Allen were the major contributors
along with Clark. Beating Urbana in a low-scoring ball control contest, 25-23, beating Centennial were two high points for the season.
1981-82… (12-12) Coach Lee Cabutti. There were may highlights in the season. The Maroon
Cagers beat Lincoln and Danville on the same weekend. Also, the Cagers defeated inter-city rivals Centennial and Urbana. The biggest highlight this year was Coach Cabutti’s four hundredth win at Central in his twenty-six year tenure.
1982-83… (9-15) Coach Lee Cabutti. Senior Paul Stukel made a basket with four seconds
remaining to lift Central to a 28-27 win over Rantoul to give coach Lee Cabutti his 500th career victory. Perhaps the most thrilling win came at Urbana when the underdog, Central, beat the tigers with a 22-foot jumper by senior Larry Moore at the buzzer.
1983-84… (7-17) Coach Lee Cabutti.
1984-85… (17-9) Coach Lee Cabutti. The season was highlighted by the winning of the
Bradley Tournament and a second place finish in the Centralia Holiday Tournament.
Cabutti Era Ends
In life, as well as basketball, the “different” people of this world are often criticized – at least until their unorthodox ways prove successful. Such was the case with Lee Cabutti, Champaign’s career leader in wins and its most controversial coach. He was criticized for his coaching philosophy, his style of play, and his refusal to cave in to racist demands when he started four black players in the early 1960’s. But the end result for this master-mind of the hard-court was a school-record 417 victories, 17 winning seasons, three trips to State, a spot in the Illinois Basketball Coaches’ Hall of Fame, and the respect and admiration of nearly every player he coached during his 29-year tenure at Champaign.
Cabutti came to Champaign carrying an impressive resume. In five years as head coach at Herrin, he had turned a laughable program (they won just three games the year before he took over) into a powerhouse that would challenge for the State title. He led Herrin to a 28-3 record in 1955-56, his last season there before moving to Champaign.
“I hated to leave Herrin,” he said, “but they paid you so little. Our two leading scorers were back, and our sophomore team was 22-0 that year. That gives you an indication of the kind of talent we had. I moved up here to be assistant football coach to Tom Stewart for about a $2,000 raise. That was practically double my salary.”
Cabutti’s first team at Champaign posted a 24-6 record. Although they had placed only third in the Big 12, the Maroons won the Regional, Sectional, and Sub-State titles and earned a berth in the elite Eight. Behind Johnny Easterbrook, Don Hepler, Attrice Dixon, Sid Johnson, and Jack Gasche, Champaign defeated Urbana twice (by a combined 65 points), Mahomet 62-37, and Rantoul 51-49 on a last second shot by Easterbrook in the Sectional title game. The storybook season ended when Ottawa downed the Maroons 54-51 in the State quarterfinals.
Cabutti’s philosophy had always revolved around a ball-control offense and a stingy, pressing defense. The “Mighty Midgets” accentuated that style in 1959-60 and 1960-61. All-Stater Bob Butler, the Big 12 leading scoring champion, led the ’59-60 squad. That first edition of the Midgets recorded a 16-10 mark and the Regional Championship. The second version, in ’60-61, included such gigantic stars as 5’4” Charles Hursey, 5’7” Val Bush, 5’8” Willie Clark, 5’8” Steve Jackson, and 6’0” Bill Anderson. Bush earned All State honors and Clark was named to the All-Big 12 team. En route to a 19-8 record, the Maroons took home the Regional title and came within one point of winning the Sectional Championship.
“I loved that team,” Cabutti fondly remembered as a smile peeked out from his face. “Our style of play was pretty boring for the fans, but you have to take what ability a player has. Not everyone can score. I believe you can teach any kid to play defense.”
Along with the usual criticism of his ball-control offense, Cabutti received hostile phone calls and endured extreme isolation for his decision to keep four black players in the starting lineup.
“Nobody ever played four blacks at that time,” he said, “Val Bush wrote a letter to the editor about it. I think they played twice as hard because of the flack we got.”
After several respectable but unspectacular seasons, Cabutti and the Maroons returned to prominence in 1966-67. Led by Harry and Larry Jackson, Jerry Kurasek, Bob Scofield, and sophomore Clyde Turner, Champaign ran to a 14-3 mid-season mark and a 27-5 overall record. Kurasek, Larry Jackson, and Turner were joined the following year by Bruce Elliot, Dave White, Joe McNeal, and Arberry Barnes and yielded a 21-5 record. Champaign held a 9-4 standing at midseason, the four losses coming by a total of 13 points. At one point, they won 12 consecutive games en route to the Maroons’ fir Big 12 title since 1946. Some of the outstanding individual accomplishments included a 32-point performance by Turner, a 28-point effort by Jackson, and a 24-point game from White.
The next season, 1968-69, remains as one of the best in team history. The Maroons won their first nine games before a 61-40 loss to Thornton of Harvey in the title game of the Centralia Holiday Tournament. They won seven of their next nine and tied Lincoln for the Big 12 Conference Championship. The season ended with a 30-4 record and third place in the State.
“We got beaten by Proviso East in the semifinals. We should’ve won the State tourney,” Cabutti said. Although history tends to credit the 1968-69 season as Cabutti’s best coaching job, he downplays his own significance. “Anybody could’ve coached those guys. My wife Joanna could have coached them and won. They were a good bunch. They liked each other. I had most of them for three years, so they did not require a lot of retraining. We had good talent.” On February 14, 1969, Turner broke the school’s scoring record held by Ted Beach. He finished with 1805 points for his high school career and played on two Big 10 Championship teams at the University of Minnesota.
Although he would not return to the State tournament, Cabutti did produce several more championship-caliber teams. The 1976-77 squad featured 20-point scorer Terry Turner, whose older brother Mach had played on the 21-9 1970-71 club.
Cabutti retired in 1984 with a career record of 417 wins and 326 losses at Champaign. Although he does not miss coaching, he says he misses the players.
“I enjoyed Champaign Central. I had opportunities at other schools, but I stayed. The administration was supportive and cooperative, and the teachers appreciated sports. I think I was fair with the kids, fair but firm. The job is to take kids who have problems and use basketball to turn them around. I think I was highly respected by the teachers. Education came first.”
The 743 games Lee Cabutti coached seem like a distant memory in the minds of many Champaign fans. However, the personality, friendly demeanor, and overall character of the Maroons’ all-time win leader remains in the hearts of all he touched. Sometimes, the great ones are remembered for more than just their amazing feats on the court.
1985-86… (15-12) A new era in CHS basketball began when Tom Croy took over Lee Cabutti’s
head coaching position. To start out his first season as head coach of the Maroon cagers, Coach Croy’s team defeated Kankakee, their first home win. Won the Regional Championship.
1986-87… (13-11) Coach Tom Croy. The Maroons won six of their final eight games, losing
in the first round of the Regionals to Bloomington. The highlight of the season was the series sweep of Urbana. The Maroons split with Centennial, winning the final meeting between the cross-town rivals.
1987-88… (24-5) Coach Tom Croy. Won the Regional Championship by defeating cross-town
rival Centennial, at Centennial. The Maroons defeated the Chargers four times this season, the first victory coming in the championship game of the News-Gazette Thanksgiving Tournament, hosted by the Maroons. The cagers finished the season by cracking the AP top 20, before losing in the sectional championship to Illinois bound Andy Kaufmann and the Jacksonville Crimsons. The Maroons were led by Julio Andujo, who returned to Central, from Jacksonville, to finish his career as a Maroon. Todd Snoeyink, Russell Stewart, and William Ward were also major contributors.
1988-89… (4-22) Coach Tom Croy. Senior, Aaron Ammons, was one of the Big 12’s top three
point shooters and sophomore, Walter Graham, was the team’s top rebounder.
1989-90… (12-15) Coach Tom Croy. Croy’s team advanced to the Sectional finals after
winning the Regional title. After much early adversity, including a drug scandal that resulted in the dismissal of two players, the Maroons pulled together behind the leadership of Seth Giertz, Tony Moore, and Nate Baker. Central Defeated Danville and Urbana on their way to the Regional title, and whooped MacArthur in the opening round of the Sectional. Quincy knocked off the Maroons in the Championship game. The Maroons got things rolling after the Centralia Holiday Tournament, winning four games in a row heading to regional play. Brent Thompson, one of the Big 12’s best three point shooters, and Walter Graham were juniors that contributed tremendously. Freshman Jason Semsprott also played an important role.
1990-91… (16-11) Coach Tom Croy. Following a seven game win streak, the Maroons headed
south to the 48th annual Centralia Holiday Tournament. The second game of the tourney matched the Maroons against undefeated Benton and JoJo Johnson. Johnson had scored 37 points in the previous game, but Jason Semsprott and Joel Hercik held him to an unimpressive eight points. The following game saw the Maroons battle back from a ten-point deficit late in the fourth quarter to knock off defending tourney champion Thornton. Myron Tate, who had been benched by Croy early in the game after having missed his second dunk attempt, sparked Central to a frenzied comeback. With :03 showing on the clock, he sank a ten-footer to put the Maroons in the title game against host Centralia. Croy’s cagers finally ran out of gas, losing 74-51 in a valiant effort that left no doubts as to the potential of the team. Semsprott was named to the All-Tournament team and Walter Graham, a 6’9” crowd favorite, earned a spot on the second team.
1991-92… (11-15) Coach Tom Croy. This year’s team returned only two lettermen. “It’s
hard to win varsity games with only sophomores and juniors, but I’m looking forward to next year,” said Coach Croy. The highlight of the season came when Thomas Parker sank a free throw as time expired to defeat Centennial 50-49.
1992-93… (18-7) Tom Croy resigns over the questionable eligibility of a transfer student,
accused of illegal activity, prior to the start of the season. Assistant coach and former Central student, Scott Davis, is hired to replace Croy. Coming into
the season the Central varsity squad was uncertain about their fate. With an unproven coach and new transfer from Urbana, Central started their season in Rantoul, at the Holiday Classic. Central played very well and proceeded to beat Kankakee, Mahomet, and Rantoul, to win the tournament. Central was led by Chato Taylor, Anthony Coomes, and tourney MVP Jason Semsprott.
1993-94… (15-9) Coach Scott Davis. Central struggled to a 5-5 record following the
Centralia Holiday Tournament, but came home with renewed vigor to demolish Urbana 74-47. Gaining confidence with each win, the team faced Centennial at home. The game went back and forth. Dana Litwin’s three dunks quieted Central’s fans, but the team kept its composure and ended the nine point victory with a David Freeman dunk! The continued their winning ways, stretching their win streak to five games.
1994-95… (2-20) Coach Scott Davis. Champaign started fresh this year with only a few key
senior players. Newcomer, senior Maurice Howard, played very well, proving that he hadn’t lost a step in the few years since playing organized basketball. Central played two sophomores, Tommy Smith, and Nate Mast. Central’s only two wins of the season came against Chicago Wells and Urbana.
1995-96… (8-17) Coach Scott Davis. The team suffered close losses to teams like
Centennial and Normal, which was frustrating. It was hard for team members to build confidence when they lost close games. Nevertheless, Central’s Maroons did not give up. They worked hard to get on a winning streak and finish the season strong.
1996-97… (16-9) Coach Scott Davis. The team finished in third place in the News-Gazette
Thanksgiving tournament, swept the twin cities, won every game in the month of January, were seeded eighth in the Central Illinois region, and received a first round home game for the regional tournament. “The Moment” came when Central was trailing 42-40 to rival Centennial in the closing seconds of the game. J.D. Leman in-bounded a pass to Nate Mast who was just behind half-court. Nate shot the ball as time expired and sank the fifty-five shot perfectly, giving Central the victory 43-42.
1997-98… (18-9) Coach Scott Davis. Central placed second in the News-Gazette
Thanksgiving Tournament. The team also made it to the consolation championship in the Centralia Holiday tournament. One of the major mental accomplishments was beating cross-town rival Centennial twice. Despite the obvious loss of experience the team did not suffer much. The junior class, lead by Brian Gwinn, Rob Reynolds, and Darmel Smith, made up a large portion of the team and didn’t back down from the challenge they were dealt.
1998-99… (23-5) Coach Scott Davis. CHS won the Big 12 regular season title, the first in
30 years, by defeating Bloomington on their home floor. The Maroons continued their winning ways by capturing the regional crown and advancing to the sectional, before losing to Quincy.
1999-2000… (15-12) Coach Scott Davis. During the Centralia Holiday Tournament four
players were kicked off the team for conduct detrimental to the program. Two of those players were starters, while three of them were seniors. Coach Davis was forced to move sophomores Dodd Browning and Eric Burge up to the varsity squad. For most teams, this would have been devastating, but not for this year’s Maroons. CHS went on to win the regional title by upsetting a heavily favored Mt. Zion team on their home floor. The Maroons then traveled to Springfield where they lost to Jacksonville in the first round of the sectional. The future of Central basketball is indeed bright. Despite playing without two of their top players, the sophomore team won the conference, guided by coach Tim Lavin.
2000-01… (13-14) Coach Scott Davis. Despite losing three key players Romielle Brown,
Ryan Hiner, and Bryan Malloch, to graduation, the Maroons were able to win a few games. After the Christmas break the cagers put together victories over Urbana and Centennial.
2001-02… (18-8) Coach Scott Davis. The Maroons started the season as the best team in
conference, winning their first nine games en route to a Big 12 regular season title. Along the way, they notched two wins apiece against cross-town rivals Urbana and Centennial. CHS advanced to the regional finals but lost to the Lincoln Railsplitters on their home court. Quintin Robbins, J. Leman, Jeremy Kruidenier, Brett Schnepper, and B.J. Carter-Williams return next year to build on this year’s success. With the sophomore team going 19-3 and winning the Big 12 Conference crown, the future is indeed bright for the Maroons.
2002-03… (17-8) Coach Scott Davis. Champaign started their season by winning their first
seven conference games. The great success can be attributed to their senior leadership. After Central beat twin-city rival Urbana for the 14th time in a row as well as winning against cross-city rival Centennial three of four games. Although this season ended with a loss at Mt. Zion in the regionals, the Maroons can be proud of their 18-7 overall record. The future of Central basketball continues to look bright as the sophomore team posted a 19-5 record, finishing second the conference and the freshmen team finished the season with a perfect 22-0 season, led by first coach Tom Hess.
2003-04… (15-13) Coach Scott Davis. The Maroons opened what appeared to be a very promising season by going undefeated in the Thanksgiving Tournament while claiming
the tournament title. Youth and inexperience led to a rocky December, before the cagers turned things around advancing to the semifinals of the Centralia Holiday
Tournament where the team placed fourth. January was not kind to the Maroons, who lost most of their this month, including a crushing home loss at the hands of
Urbana. This loss snapped an 18 game winning streak over the Tigers. The Maroons later avenged this loss by defeating the Tigers on their home court. The win against
the Tigers vaulted CHS to a spectacular performance in the Regional tournament where the Maroons avenged two regular season to Normal West and 12th ranked
Bloomington, to claim the regional title at Bloomington. Normal Community proved to be too much in defeated CHS in the opening round of the sectional. Seniors Alex
Dye and Justin Peacock led the Maroons. Junior, P.J. Keaton and sophomores Jordan Lee, an all-conference performer, and Damien Henderson provided a spark for the
team. Next year Champaign will look to replace key senior starters with members of a 20-4 conference champion sophomore team.
2004-2005...(20-6) Coach Scott Davis. The Champaign Central Maroons boys' basketball team celebrated their 100th year of basketball this season. The 2004-2005 varsity
team could not have reflected this year's motto ant better, "100 years of excellence". The team was one of the tallest teams that Champaign has ever seen. Twelve of the
thirteen team members exceeded 6 foot, making them the biggest team in the conference. The Central Maroons had four returning seniors, Pat Donovan, P.J. Keaton, Chris
Brown, and Antonio Bigham, along with five returning starters. With this type of leadership , head coach Scott Davis had a large margin to work with. Tournament play
for the Maroons seemed to be their week point as they finished far below what had been expected in two early season tournaments, Urbana's Thanksgiving Tournament
and Centralia's Holiday Tournament. After smoothing out the bumps in the road, the Maroons hit the conference play hard, beginning with a 6-0 run in search for the
championship title, including punishing two local rivals, the Urbana Tigers and the Centennial Chargers. The 100 year celebration took place on Friday, February 25,
2005 in Combes gym. About 100 Central alumni returned for this event, which recognized players from the 1930's to players on the current Maroon team.
2005-2006...(25-4) Coach Scott Davis. Expect to win" is a motto that can be applied to all Central Athletics, and one that was both used and demonstrated by the 2006
Central boys basketball team. They started out the season slow with two disappointing losses each by slim margins, but their potential was still recognized by
many, and once Central got going, there was no looking back for this team. Winning their next two games along with a victory at the prestigious St. Louis Shoot-
Out ignited a 20-game winning streak that showed everyone how good this year's team really was. With their extreme talent, the team was expected to win wherever
they went. The team's skills caused them to be favored in post-season play, and after defeating both cross-town rivals Urbana and Centennial, Central beat Pontiac
to move on to its first sectional finals since 1990. They then faced Bloomington, where in a hard-fought match their amazing season came to an end.
2006-2007...(21-9)(11-2) Coach Scott Davis. The 2006-2007 Central boys basketball team faced one of the toughest schedules in school history, and they certainly rose to the
challenge. This schedule had them compete against not only the top teams in the state, but in the nation. When a change of scenery from the Midwest winter was needed,
their schedule took them to places like Florida and Kentucky. In most every game they played, win or lose, Central was either a commanding presence with the lead or, if
they were down, they kept it close enough to possibly make a fourth quarter rally. Despite losing some of the games in their stacked non-conference schedule early, Central
remained a Big 12 contender for all of the season. Central defeated both Urbana and Centennial in Regionals but fell to Bloomington in Sectionals.
2007-2008...(25-8)(11-2) Coach Scott Davis. For the past thirty-nine years, Central students knew what to expect going into Spring Break. The weather might be warming up,
Spring sports teams would begin practicing and competing, and Peoria would not be found anywhere on students travel itineraries. All of that changed in 2008. As Spring
Break began snow could still be found on the ground, and Central's basketball team could still be found on the court. If you asked anyone on Central's team from very
first practice of the season they would tell you that they were going to State. They might have been the only people that thought that. Making a historic run past Big 12
powerhouse Decatur Eisenhower, the # 1 ranked team in Illinois, Central proceeded to make believers of everyone around. The environment that was created during
Central's run will be memorable for all those who were lucky enough to be part of it, as anyone driving between Champaign and Peoria on the day of State would see
five State-bound buses plus dozens of cars labeled with supportive comments for the Maroons. After getting 3rd place at State, Central returned home to a crowd of
cheering fans, as the excitement of the time will now live on only in the memories of those who were around to be a part of Central's amazing run.
2008-2009... Coach Scott Davis. The 2008 basketball team has a successful season, even though they had some high expectations to live up to after last year. After losing all but one starter from the
previous year, the returnees knew they had to work hard to have another great season. Although they started the season with three loses, they played against highly recruited players and
nationally respected teams. The boys had rather tough competition throughout their season, and although they had their share of loses, they were seeded 2nd in Regionals. The team beat
Danville 66-49 in the first round of regionals, but came out short in the second round when they lost to Centennial 61-70. The team will be losing four seniors this year, including three starters;
Akeenen Hunt, Zander Culer, Patrick Wampler, and Aaron Montgomery. Zander Culver will be continuing his basketball career next year at Winona State University. Although four varsity
players are graduating, the talented returning upper and lower classmen are sure to make next season a great one.
2009-2010...Coach Scott Davis. The Central boys basketball team got right down to work at the beginning of the season with a 71-62 win against East Peoria. The team struggled with a 3-0 losing streak
but ended it by smashing Decatur MacArthur 80-65. The team captains, Edwind McGhee and Isaiah Clasberry lead the team to the regional championship, but they fell short by losing to cross-
town rival Centennial 36-47. This ended their season with 13 wins and 15 loses. All the seniors on the team, Nathan Chisholm, Edwind McGhee, John Lessaris, Anthony Green, Trey Smith-
Williams, Isaiah Clasberry, and Joe Daniels made the first team all Big 12, which had a positive impact on the outcome of the season. All of the seniors will be missed dearly and as always the
maroons will be ready for the next season.
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