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Sweet Charlie, Dike, Cazzie, and Bobby Joe

High School Basketball in Illinois

Taylor H. A. Bell

Publication Year: 2004

In urban and rural high schools throughout Illinois, basketball is a Friday night ritual. Local games are often the biggest thing happening all week, and the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and state tournaments attract fanatical fans by the thousands. _x000B__x000B_Far from the jaded professionals, the stories in Taylor Bell's Sweet Charlie, Dike, Cazzie, and Bobby Joe are of hungry young men playing their hearts out, where high-tops and high hopes inspire "hoop dreams" from Peoria to Pinckneyville, and Champaign to Chicago. Bell, a life-long fan and authority on high school basketball in Illinois, brings together for the first time the stories of the great players, teams, and coaches from the 1940s through the 1990s. _x000B__x000B_The book is titled for four players who reflect the unique quality of high school basketball, and whose first names are enough to trigger memories in fans who love the sport -- Sweet Charlie Brown, Dike Eddleman, Cazzie Russell, and Bobby Joe Mason. Bell offers exciting accounts of their exploits, told with a journalistic flair. _x000B__x000B_Beyond a lifetime spent covering the sport, Bell's research includes three hundred and fifty personal interviews with coaches, administrators, family members, and fans. He has attended the Elite Eight finals of every boys' state basketball tournament since 1958, and met and written about many of the most outstanding teams, coaches, and players who helped to make Illinois one of the most exciting arenas for high school basketball in the United States. Sixty photographs add depth to the accounts. _x000B__x000B_By a fan, for the fans, Sweet Charlie, Dike, Cazzie, and Bobby Joe is the authoritative book on high school basketball in Illinois, and will elate anyone who has thrilled to the poignant highs and shattering lows of high school sports.

Published by: University of Illinois Press


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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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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? ...


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pp. 205-210


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pp. 211-236


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pp. 237-248

E-ISBN-13: 9780252090486
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252029486

Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2004

OCLC Number: 785782156
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Sweet Charlie, Dike, Cazzie, and Bobby Joe


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Subject Headings

  • Basketball -- Illinois -- History.
  • School sports -- Illinois -- History.
  • Basketball players -- Illinois.
  • Racism in sports -- Illinois -- History.
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