Schuckman: Blue Devil Gym featured in IBCA’s 2023 Unique Gyms of Illinois calendar

Blue Devil Gym

Quincy's Blue Devil Gym is being featured in the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association's 2023 Unique Gyms of Illinois calendar. | Matt Schuckman photo

The middle of December brings holiday gift ideas, All-American game goals and memories of a game played more than 30 years ago …

Two venerable high school basketball gyms in Illinois and arguably the two most historic within the Western Big 6 Conference are being featured in the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association’s 2023 Unique Gyms of Illinois calendar.

Quincy’s Blue Devil Gym and Moline’s Wharton Field House are among the 13 gyms featured in the full-color spread now on sale.

Blue Devil Gym debuted as the home of the Quincy High School boys basketball team with a 54-48 victory over Keokuk, Iowa, on Dec. 30, 1957. It has a seating capacity of 3,900 and is the home to the third winning high school program in the state.

Wharton Field House opened in 1928 and seats approximately 7,000 fans. The home of the Moline Maroons also has been the home to the NBA’s Tri-Cities Blackhawks, who are today’s Atlanta Hawks, as well as the CBA’s Quad City Thunder.

The gyms in the calendar were built in the 1920s, ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s and are still used today for interscholastic competition. This colorful calendar includes the birthdays of approximately 1,500 IBCA Hall of Famers as well.

Calendars can be ordered by mailing a check payable for $25 to the Basketball Museum of Illinois at PO Box 8004, Elburn, IL 60119 or visit the IBCA website, click “Support the Museum,” and make a $25 donation. Include your address to have one mailed.

Members of the IBCA will be at Wharton Field House on Friday night selling calendars before ninth-ranked Quincy (8-0) and second-ranked Moline (5-1) square off in a showdown for first place in the Western Big 6 Conference.

Anderson at All-American game

The most prolific goal scorer in the history of the Quincy Notre Dame boys soccer program showed a national audience how he made his way to the stop.

Representing the West squad in the High School All-American Game, played last Saturday at Tommy Oliver Stadium in Panama City, Fla., Anderson scored with 12:30 remaining in the first half, settling a flicked ball in the box and deftly depositing it into the right side of the net.

The goal tied the game at 1, and the West squad went on to win 4-2.

Signed to play next season at Saint Louis University, Anderson finished his QND career with 100 goals and 45 assists. He scored 35 goals in back-to-back seasons, leading the Raiders to the Class 1A state championship in October.

Connell, C-SC handed Leach early loss

As news of the sudden passing of Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach spread Tuesday, Bill Connell was reminded of his first encounter with the guru of the “Air Raid” offense.

“I think we got the better of him,” Connell said.

The Quincy Notre Dame athletic director, who spent 26 seasons as the head coach of the QND football team, first made his impact on the area scene as an all-conference linebacker at Culver-Stockton College. In 1989, with Connell serving as a team captain, C-SC played host to Iowa Wesleyan in the second week of the season.

The Panthers were in their first season under the direction of Hal Mumme, and his first-year offensive coordinator was Leach. In the two years prior to joining Mumme, Leach served as an assistant coach at Cal Poly and the College of the Desert and spent one season as the head coach of the Pori Bears in the American Football Association of Finland.

Still, it was at Iowa Wesleyan where Mumme and Leach started their gunslinging offensive attack that took them to Valdosta State and Kentucky. Leach became a head coach at Texas Tech in 2000 and over the next two decades won 158 games, eight bowl games, one national coach of the year honor and three conference coach of the year awards.

Yet, on Sept. 16, 1989, in Canton, Mo., he couldn’t engineer a victory over the Wildcats.

Kevin Wiley caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Kelly Kuhlman with 21 seconds remaining in regulation for a 31-28 victory. Kuhlman threw for 347 yards for the Wildcats, while Leach’s offense was limited to 183 yards passing with two interceptions.

Connell had eight tackles for the Wildcats.

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