1952 HEBRON GREEN GIANTS
In 1952, a dream came true for all the small high schools in Illinois when Hebron won the IHSA Boys Basketball State Championship.
Their accomplishment is not a “come out of nowhere” story. Many basketball fans from the 1930s, ’40s & ’50s from Northern Illinois will tell you that tiny Hebron had a powerful basketball program. They held their own against the much larger schools like Elgin and Dundee. In fact, from 1938-1943, Hebron went 135-19, won five consecutive District Championships, and in 1940 led by Howie Judson, reached the Sweet 16 with a 31-1 record.
In the late 1940s
Hebron will again become a dominant force in Illinois. The new architect that will lead the Green Giants to this storied championship is Coach Russ Ahearn, who arrived at Hebron in 1948. He was a fierce competitor and a coach with a vision who paid close attention to minor details. Coach Ahearn will teach his young men to respect their opponents but to fear no one. His teams from 1948-1952 won 98 games while losing only 15.
After going 26-2 in the 1950-51 season
The stage was set with the return of Don Wilbrandt, Ken Spooner, Bill Schulz, Phil, and Paul Judson. Hebron was a highly skilled team with experience, leadership, quickness, and size, with 6’10” Center Bill Schulz and the 6’3’’ Judson twins. Combine this talented team with their coach. It was no surprise Hebron would be ranked #1 in Illinois in 9 out of 13 weeks.
Having only 98 students
Hebron would have to begin the state tournament by playing in a District which meant they would have to go 11-0 in postseason play to win it all (Note: Only the smallest schools began in district play-larger schools began in regional play. This was a difference of 2 additional games the smaller schools had to play).
Reminded his team of this when he wrote on the chalkboard the number 11 before their first district game. This experienced, talented, and road-tested team was ready to take on the challenge of defeating 11 opponents to win the IHSA Crown. Hebron didn’t disappoint, emerging victorious in their first 10 tournament games.
A script writer could not have set the scene any better
For the first televised IHSA State Championship game, featuring Hebron versus Quincy. (Quincy’s student enrollment of 1,035 was bigger than the total population of Hebron Township). Besides the lucky ones crammed into Huff Gym, millions of people were watching the game on their televisions or listening to the radio broadcast. Every small school in the state was rooting for Hebron, and it was a championship game for the ages.
The End Result
HEBRON (35-1) REIGNED SUPREME OVER THE STATE, DEFEATING QUINCY 64-59 IN OVERTIME TO BECOME THE ONLY DISTRICT SCHOOL TO WIN THE ILLINOIS HIGH SCHOOL STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP.