We know that Burnside High School offered boys basketball, competing with several of the schools in its area on a yearly
basis. It is likely that baseball and track were also offered at the school. We are in need of the team nickname,
team colors, and school fight song. Also needed are team records, accomplishments, and coach's names for Burnside
Burnside High School's basketball teams of the mid-1930s let the folks of the area hold their heads high.
These teams won two District and one Regional Championship as well as a Hancock County Tournament Championship!
The following article was sent to us by Jenny Logan from a book titled "Hancock County History" as found
in the Carthage library. The article is found on page 451 and is reprinted in its entirety. It is a FASCINATING
account of a truly incredible story regarding the basketball feats of a very small town in a unique time of Illinois history.
"Little Giants Basketball Team"
Most publicized feature of the Burnside School system, and something no one will ever forget who lived in
the town in the 1930's, was the Little Giants basketball team. Ralph L. Vass, Pilot Grove Township
Supervisor and Chairman of the County History sub-committee, was a member of this Little Giants squad in the years of 1935,
1936, and 1937. He has written the following about it.
"This team, especially through the three years of 1936, 1937, and 1938, litterally became the wonder
of the state of Illinois high school basketball. Burnside, a three-year high school, with an enrollment of between 30
and 35 through this period, with about 15 boys, without a gymnasium and forced to play all games away from home with the crowd
against them, with no place to practice but an outdoor court usable only a few weeks in the early fall, built a basketball
machine which ran rough-shod over all the four-year high schools of the county, and even the larger ones outside.
WIth a 20 and 1 record in 1937, Burnside won the Regional and was eliminated in the Sectional at
Galesburg by a free throw in two overtimes. Knoxville was played in this game. In 1938, with a 29 to 0 record, Burnside lost
to Augusta by a few points in the Regional at Carthage. High point of the 1938 season was when they beat Macomb 30 to
6, holding them scoreless the first 22 minutes of the game. Chicago papers gave the Little Giants space
comparable to that accorded the University of Illinois five.
The gentlemen of the press generally considered Donald Cox, son of Coach Irwin Cox,
star of the team. He was the nephew of Forrest "Shorty" Loudin, a Carthage College football coach of World
War I days. "Shorty" was incapacitated by wounds received while serving in the A.E.F. on the Western
Front in France in that war and was an invalid in the Cox home in Burnside at the time of his death,
about the time Donald became a Little Giants basketball star.
World War II came on right after the era of this Little Giants team, and Donald became an
Army man and made the Army his career for the remaining thirty years of his life, dying just a year or so before the writing
of this county history. So he virtually replaced his uncle, Shorty Loudin, as a prominent athlete of
this county and as an Army man. Irwin Cox, Donald's father, was a Carthage College graduate, Class
of 1924, He coached five years at New Haven, Missouri, before coming to Burnside in the fall of 1929.
Another star player of the Little Giants was Tom Hull, one of the sons of Fred P.
Hull, who wrote the 1959 History of Burnside. He later played on the University of Illinois baseball
team as an undergraduate in that university. He is now a Springfield, Illinois, insurance executive."
The several rural schools of the township (Pilot Township) where students learned at least to read and
write through the 150 years to the present era of hauling youngsters in yellow buses to town when grade schools have all been
discontinued now. The buildings have been sold and torn down or put to other uses. But the familiar names of districts still
remain in the people's thinking to identify rural parts of the township."
Upon sending this article about this amazing team in western Illinois, Jenny Logan offered
the following story. Tom Hull told Jenny that a player on one of these incredible
teams was once asked how the Burnside team could play so well when the boys had to practice outside. The player replied
that it was easier playing in an indoor gym because there was no wind in there!
Coach Irwin Cox
1936-37 20 - 1 Regional Champions
Coach Irwin Cox
1937-38 29 - 1 District Champions
Hancock County Tourn. Champs Coach Irwin Cox
Looking for More Info
We are hopeful and area enthusiast can "fill in the blanks" regarding the Burnside High School successes and history.
We are always in need of photos of the old school building and great teams. If you wish to help us out please complete
a School Submission Form or Guest Commentary Form. You may also e-mail us at email@example.com
or write us at:
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, Il. 60631