|Downs High School Basketball
|County Champs - 1922-23
Downs Kickapoo Union & Community High School's "Warriors" and "Demons" did compete in baseball,
basketball, and football. The school was a member of the Tri-Valley Conference up to 1948 with other schools in the eastern
half of McLean County, such as Anchor, Cropsey, Towanda, Bellflower, Cooksville, Colfax, Ellsworth, Saybrook,
. After that, it joined the Kickapoo Conference until the conference closed up shop in 1985. Some of the
members of that conference were Saybrook-Arrowsmith,
Deland-Weldon, Wapella, Danvers, McLean-Waynesville, Stanford,
An interesting note about both conferences: they had travelling trophies that were used to
build school pride among the conference members during basketball season. The Tri-Valley called theirs the Little Brown Jug,
and the Kickapoo had a tomahawk. Any time a school got possession of the trophy, they tied a long ribbon onto the trophy in
their school colors with the name of the school on it, and in some cases, would list the date they took possession of the
trophy with the names of the players and coaches from the team.
This is still a common practice today among the schools from the Heart of Illnois Conference between conference
members. Regardless of what part of the season (conference play, holiday tournaments, the conference's tournament, or in the
state tournament) HOIC members face each other, the current trophy holder will display the hardware in the center tip
circle at mid-court during warmups as a sign that the winner will take possesion of the gold-plated basketball when
the game is over. (The tradition was started by the Bloomington Pantagraph sometime around WWII when they provided
As Downs Community High School, the basketball program won two McLean County Tournaments in 1923 and 1930.
However, there is no evidence of state tournament trophies or plaques won by Downs Kickapoo Union or Downs Community
In basketball, the Demons won the two county tournament titles as mentioned above, and were competitive
up until their merger with Ellsworth.
1922-23 22-2 McLean Co. Tournament Champions Coach A.C.
1929-31 McLean Co. Tournament
Champions Coach Edwin Drome
1930-31 22-8-1 Coach
1956-57 14-10 (good record!) Coach
1962-63 12-10 Last year as Downs HS
Coach Ray Lane
According to a 1908 school manual and guide book on the Downs Public Schools, they played football against
Leroy in 1907 contest on the gridiron, and won 11-10.
Boys Track & Field
According to the IHSA website (www.ihsa.org
), only one athlete from Downs medalled at the state track meet. One male athlete (Fred Grafft
brought home a medal in consectuve seasons in the late 1920's. This was accomplished in old one-class system.
1927-28 Fred Grafft Javelin
1928-29 Fred Grafft Javelin 4TH
|1930 Downs Demons Baseball team
|McLean County Champions
The Demons were also known on the baseball diamond, having won the McLean County title in the fall of 1930. They were
competitive up thru the end of the school's operation.
1930 6-0 McLean County Champions Coach
1956 6-8-1 Coach
1958 4-2 (2nd in Kickapoo Conference play) Coach
1963 7-4 (good record--last season as Downs HS) Coach Ray Lane
One native of Downs that went on to make a name for himself was Edward O'Rourke (1917-1999). He
became a Roman Catholic priest, and then was Bishop of the Peoria Diocese in 1971 before retiring in 1990.
A set of triplets served as cheerleaders for the Demons during their four years at the school. Marilyn, Margaret, and
Mary Clark manned the sidelines for the Blue and Gold of Downs from 1955 to 1959.
(from Mary Dawson) "The Union School was also used as a grade school, I would assume after the Downs
Community High School was built. My oldest brother was a 1st grader in 1952, and I think he started out at that school. I
started school in 1960 and it was at the original part of the current Tri-Valley Grade School across the street from the Downs
Community High School."
(from Mike Larkin
) "Around 1946, the Grade School team of Jim Tervin, Ralph Davis, Larry Larkin, "Bud"
Daniels, "Teep" Reynolds, Bob Larkin and Danny Rhodes won the McLean County Basketball Championship.
"I attended the Grade School from 1944 until 1950, then they moved the 7th and 8th grades to the high school. Fern Downs
was the Grade School Principal..she lived in a trailer house behind the grade school.
"Alvera (Wrench) Chrisman was my first and second grade teacher, Grace Weaver in third grade, Lucille Simpson for 4th
grade, Mrs. Warshied in fifth, Duncan ???? in sixth.
"Mr. Ohmart was the high school principal and taught General Science, Biology, Chemistry
and Physics. He died a few years ago in Farmer City."
(from Bob Larkin
) "I think Dick Hoover was on that team, rather
than Teep, and Ralph Bustle was a sub along with Danny Rhodes and I. Five 8th graders and three 4th graders
who played very little. We all traveled in Mrs Downs' '34 Ford, along with three Cheerleaders. (Rhodes may
have also driven to some of the games.) We ended up 4th, not first in the county tournament, as I recall.
"In 1950, both the Downs grade school lightweight and heavyweight teams won the "Little Six" conference championships
in the Downs High School Gym. I remember Waldo Tinsley sitting in the balcony and pulling so hard on it you could see
"In 1951, many of the same players won the Fresh-Soph conference tournament
in Ellsworth. The coach only took five players to the tournament (Dave Roop, Dan Rhodes, Bob Reeves, Richard Blaine and
I). In the second of three games, one player fouled out so we finished with four on the floor. I had my 15
seconds of fame when I made two free throws with a couple seconds left to win 35-34. In the third and final game, two
players fouled out and we finished with three on the floor. Bob Reeves came through with a couple long set shots
and we won the championship by one point. I think Jackie Webb, Nadine Romine, and Margaret Ketner were our cheerleaders."
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