Date: January 21, 2007
About: QHS Basketball Alumni
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Michael Payne stood at midcourt with a video camera in his palm, recording what long will be remembered as the night the legends came home.
Some looked like they could still play.
Some had lost a step or two.
Some didn't bother to try.
Yet, they brought to life memories that have stayed so vivid over time, the jumpers they hit and the games they won playing for the Quincy High School boys basketball team. Saturday night's 100th anniversary alumni game was a collection a legends few schools can match.
"I wasn't going to play," said Jack Kramer, an all-state guard who graduated in 1986 as the school's second-leading career scorer. "But I got here and got around the guys and knew I had to play. This was worth it. This was great."
And it was great to see the players of yesterday show they still have some game.
Kramer shot the left-handed jumper that made him lethal.
Bill Gay posted up as if it were 1967 all over again.
Kyle Cartmill danced through defenses like he did in 1995.
Dick Heitholt can still bury a set shot. Michael Rudd is still the fastest player on the floor. And Sherrill Hanks, the winningest coach in school history, still gets a standing ovation when he enters Blue Devil Gym.
"Seeing Coach kind of choked me up," said Gay, who played for Hanks in the mid-1960s.
Ovations were the norm.
Bruce Douglas and Michael Payne, the only McDonald's All-Americans in school history, received them. Larry Moore and Dick Thompson were cheered. But the crowd of more than 1,000 fans saved their best for last.
That's when the two oldest living basketball alums were wheeled to center court.
Harry Hall, the last living member of Quincy's 1934 state championship team, and Herman Schneidman, a 1931 graduate, sparkled in the spotlight. Their appearance meant 70 years of history was on display as nearly 100 players stood on the court, stretched baseline to baseline.
"There were a lot of players here who did amazing things," said Jeff Stark, a long-time Quincy fan who was seeking autographs afterward. "There will never be another time when this many men who shaped the history of the program are back together. This is a once-in-a-lifetime deal."
No one forgot that.
Jerry Douglas, the oldest of the six Douglas brothers who became household names, took the court with his four sons — Andy, Tony, Aaron and Alex.
"That was cool," said Andy, a 2000 QHS graduate.
Then he added with a laugh, "Except dad wouldn't pass the ball."
Sharing the ball wasn't a problem for four other Douglas brothers — Brett, Brandon, Kevin and Kori — who took the floor together for the second time ever.
In 1995, when Brett and Brandon were seniors, Quincy coach Loren Wallace put two freshmen — Kevin and Kori — in the game so the four brothers were on the floor at the same time.
So history does repeat itself.
At least in little doses.
No one got to see "Slammin' Bruce" tear baskets loose or the "Big Brown Bear" get them anywhere. Still, they have the memories of following Payne to Champaign and seeing "Silki Smooth" on the move.
Those memories will never be forgotten.
They were only enhanced Saturday night when the legends were welcomed home.
Have a question or comment for Sports Writer Matt Schuckman? Contact him at (217) 221-3366 or firstname.lastname@example.org.