Cover

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Contents

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pp. v-viii

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The Bench

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pp. ix-xiii

My wife Gail would rather pass up a shopping trip to Sak’s than miss our annual fourday safari to the Elite Eight finals of the boys Class AA basketball tournament in March. In fact, she was the inspiration for this book. ...

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Pregame Warm-Up

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pp. 1-4

Shelby Foote, the distinguished author and historian who made the Civil War mustreading for a generation that didn’t know Grant from Lee, once said: “you don’t know where you are going until you know where you have been.” He was referring to how the conflict of 1861–65 defined the American character and set the tone for life as we know it. ...

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Chapter 1: The 1940s

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pp. 5-38

It opened in 1934 on North Poplar before moving to its current location on Route 161 at Route 51 in downtown Centralia in 1936. In the 1940s and 1950s, however, Centralia’s great basketball stars, Ken “Preacher” McBride and Bobby Joe Mason, couldn’t go there. ...

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Chapter 2: The 1950s

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pp. 39-70

Towns in Pulaski, Jackson, Franklin, and Williamson Counties were run by southern Baptists and rednecks that had antiforeign or antiblack or anti-Catholic feelings. Route 37, a north-south highway, went through Johnston City. For years, a sign warned: “Nigger, don’t let the sun set on your head in this town.” ...

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Chapter 3: The 1960s

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pp. 71-104

Bogie Redmon is nothing if not loyal. His license plate reads “IL BIG10,” a reference to his days playing on Harry Combes’s basketball team at the University of Illinois. But Redmon’s most cherished memories are of his high school experience in his hometown. ...

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Chapter 4: The 1970s

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pp. 105-138

In the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, basketball was king in small towns from Pinckneyville to Pittsfield to Paris. People filled high school gyms on Friday night to cheer their local teams. For many, it was the social event of the week. But something was missing. ...

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Chapter 5: The 1980s

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pp. 139-174

Rivers was dubbed “the basketball nerd” at his twentieth high school reunion. He didn’t talk to girls. He never had a girlfriend. He attended only one homecoming dance and one prom. His mother made him go to his senior prom. He arrived late and left early. ...

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Chapter 6: The 1990s

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pp. 175-204

Nobody thought it would happen. Even Steve Kouri, the Peoria lawyer who conceived of the plot to steal the prize, had doubts that the heist could be pulled off. After seventy-seven years, why would the boys state basketball tournament leave Champaign-Urbana? ...

Overtime

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pp. 205-210

Sources

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pp. 211-236

Index

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pp. 237-248