Eight individuals and two teams will be inducted into the Hillsboro High School athletic hall of fame during a banquet hosted by the Hillsboro Sports Boosters on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Knights of Columbus hall in Taylor Springs.
Those to be inducted are Brian Peko, Cecil Hart, Mark Hughes, Shane Cress, Adam Beeler, Bertie Smith, Irwin Little, Charles Grantham, the 1949 boys basketball team, and the 1982 boys baseball team.
They will join hall of famers Mark Frailey, Tony Parola, Stan Wallace, Mary Beth Zimmerman, Harold Osborn, Ed Dahler, Buzz Ott, Pat McClurg, Tony Corso, Maria Pretnar, Brooke Beeler, Matt Hughes, Walter Westbrook, the 1914 boys basketball team, and the 2006 girls basketball team.
Tickets for the hall of fame banquet cost $30 each and are available at the Hillsboro High School office. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and dinner begins at 6 p.m.
1949 Boys Basketball Team
Likely the most storied team in Hillsboro High School history, the 1949 boys basketball team finished second in state.
Storied? Even the 1949 Hiltop yearbook takes 14 pages to record the team's accomplishment.
Hillsboro had made it to state the previous year, but finished the season with a 20-6 record after a 61-44 Sweet 16 loss to LaGrange Lyons.
After the 1948-49 regular season, Hillsboro entered post-season play with a 17-5 record, but hosted both the regional and sectional tournaments. In the regional, they defeated Litchfield 61-31, Mt. Olive 60-45, and Gillespie 55-40 to win the championship.
In sectional play, Hillsboro avenged an earlier loss by beating Taylorville 40-35 in the semifinals. The championship game was against the sectional's Cinderella team, Brownstown, who had drilled East St. Louis Lincoln (remember, this was the days of only one class in basketball) 80-63 in the other sectional semifinal. Hillsboro, though, had little trouble in a 63-39 sectional championship win.
Coach Fred Ewald's crew traveled to Huff Gym in Champaign to face Champaign in the Sweet 16. Charley Boston tied the game 36-36 with a free throw with five seconds left in the fourth and the game went to overtime. In overtime sophomore Bill Helfer, "almost trapped once as Champaign pressed all over the floor, took off to the right of the free throw circle and scooped the winning points right through," according to the 1949 yearbook. Boston scored 13 points in the game and Hillsboro hall-of-famer Buzz Ott added 12.
Hillsboro beat Pekin 45-49 in the quarterfinals with hall-of-famer Stan Wallace on the bench with an ankle injury suffered in the Champaign game. Ott scored 15 in the game and Richard Sturgeon had 11.
Wallace was hobbled but back in the line-up when Hillsboro faced 34-1 Nashville in the semifinals, but it was Ott who scored 20 points leading the Hiltoppers to a 50-43 win. Sturgeon scored 12 and Wallace added eight.
Hillsboro led Mt. Vernon 20-19 at halftime in the state championship game, but Mt. Vernon's 6-5 sophomore star Max Hooper scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half and the Hiltoppers, led by 11 each from Ott and Sturgeon and 10 from Wallace, finished second after a 45-49 loss.
Hillsboro finished the incredible run with a 25-6 record and a second place in state trophy.
Mt. Vernon, with a freshman and sophomore on the all-tournament team, went on to repeat in 1950 with a 33-0 record.
1982 Boys Baseball Team
A season that began with a 13-1 loss to Gillespie ended with a second place finish in the Class A state championship game at Lanphier Park in Springfield for the 1982 Hillsboro High School baseball team, who enjoyed one of the most memorable post-season runs in school history.
With one of their best pitchers on the team not able to throw a pitch that season, Hillsboro entered the Staunton Regional with a 13-9 record. Senior Mark Scheibal, son of coach Harland Scheibal, had injured his knee in the fall just before Hillsboro's first-ever football playoff game and missed the entire baseball season in the spring.
In the regional, Hillsboro beat Vandalia 7-2, Litchfield 6-0, and Staunton 8-2 to win the championship. At the Alton Marquette Sectional, they defeated Williamsville 2-0 then Marquette 4-3 to advance to the state tournament.
Hillsboro's first game at state in the quarterfinals took extra innings to resolve a scoreless tie. Hugh Satterlee pitched seven and two-thirds scoreless innings allowing only four hits, and Greg Smith drove in the game winner in the bottom of the eighth.
In the semifinals, Rich Westbrook, who had picked up the win in the quarterfinals in relief, improved to 11-1 on the season with a complete game one-hitter in a 7-0 win over Massac County. He also drove in two runs in the game, as did Jerry Price.
The state championship game was against Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox. After Providence jumped to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first, Jason Brown singled in the bottom of the inning, advanced to third on two wild pitches, and scored on an error.
Hillsboro tied the score with two in the bottom of the second, but a Providence home run gave them the lead in the top of the third. Hillsboro tied it again when Satterlee drove in a run with a ground ball.
With the score tied, Mike Moroney pitched out of bases-loaded jams in the fourth and sixth innings, but with the score tied at 4-4 in the top of the seventh, Providence scored on an error and then a two-run single to win the state championship 7-4 and finish the season with a 42-16 record. Their coach, Jaime Garcia, went on to work as a minor league pitching coach and still coaches in the Detroit Tigers organization.
Hillsboro finished an incredible season with a 20-10 record and a second place in state trophy.
A member of the Hillsboro High School class of 2003, Adam Beeler medaled at state in two sports.
In wrestling, he compiled a career 130-15 record and qualified for state all four years, finishing fourth in 2001 and second in 2003.
In 2001 as a sophomore, he competed on the state mats in the Class A 119-pound class, Beeler defeated Nic Wright of Bismarck-Henning 8-2 in the quarterfinals before falling to Mike Grimes of Lombard Montini, the eventual state champion, 5-2 in the semifinals. He then defeated Matt Allen of Hoopeston 11-0 before falling to Mike Olson of Sandwich 6-3 in the third place match to finish his sophomore season with a 36-5 record.
Beeler advanced to state as a senior in the Class A 135-pound class and opened with a 9-6 win over Victor Beltran of Sandwich in the quarterfinals. He defeated Vince Colletti of Lombard Montini 7-4 in the semifinals, but fell to Brett Lockwood of Wilmington 7-6 in the state championship match to finish his senior campaign with a 38-2 record.
In golf, he finished 15th in 2001 to earn a state medal, and helped his team finish second in state in 2003. That team–Beeler, John Major, Nathan McDice, Phil McLaughlin, Derek McCammack, and Chad Zimmerman–finished only two strokes behind Effingham St. Anthony for the state championship.
A 1998 graduate of Hillsboro High School, Shane Cress may be the fastest man to ever run at the school.
He still holds the school record in both the 100 (10.92 seconds) and the 200 (22.36 seconds), both medal performances at the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) state finals in 1997.
Cress qualified for state three times, as a sophomore, junior, and senior in 1996, 1997, and 1998.
In 1997 as a junior, he placed second in state in the 100 and third in the 200. As a senior in 1998 he finished fourth in the 100.
In college, Cress was the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) national champion in the 200 during his junior year in 2001 at Greenville College, and ran a leg on the NCCAA national champion 4x100 teams in 2000 and 2001 at Greenville College. He was a part of Greenville's national championship teams as a junior and senior in 2001 and 2002.
Charles Grantham, a member of the class of 1923, finished third in the 880 in 1922 at the Class B state track meet and second the following year, 1923. That year, his teammate Irwin Little finished second in the mile, propelling the Hillsboro team to a 10th place finish in the standings.
Cecil Hart, who passed away in 2009, was a 1954 graduate of Hillsboro High School who lettered in football, basketball, track and baseball.
He started on the 1952-53 basketball team that finished the regular season with a 7-16 record but made a post-season run that ended with an overtime loss to Jacksonville at the state tournament. As a senior, he played on a Hiltopper basketball team that compiled a 22-6 record while sharing the Mid-State Conference title and winning the Pontiac Holiday Tournament.
He attended the University of Illinois on an athletic scholarship for one year, then transferred to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale where he made the football team as a walk-on and ended up lettering all three years.
His senior year at SIU-C, he was team captain, MVP, and led the team with 550 yards on 148 carries while playing fullback. He was also all-conference in the Interstate Conference and helped the team compile a 7-2 record.
After graduation, he taught and coached at Greenville for one year, then returned to Hillsboro to teach and coach where he led the Hillsboro football team to 61 wins.
After 18 years in the classroom, he left teaching and went to work for CIPS at the Coffeen Power Station and retired from there.
A member of the Hillsboro High School class of 1992, Mark Hughes was part of a Hiltopper wrestling dynasty, capping of his career with a second place finish in the IHSA state finals as a senior.
Hughes wrestled on teams that qualified for state all four years at Hillsboro High School, finishing fourth in 1990, 1991, and 1992.
He was also a three-time individual qualifier, finishing second in the Class A 152-pound class as a senior. On the state mats in Champaign, he opened with a 13-0 major decision win against Steve Brown of Lena-Winslow in the quarterfinals, then defeated previously unbeaten Larry Popp of Harvard 13-9 in the semifinals.
In the championship bout, Hughes came within one point of a state championship, falling to Eric Johnson of Bismarck-Henning 6-5 to finish his senior season with a 39-2 record and a second place medal.
In football, he made the Mid-State Conference all-conference teams on offense and defense as a senior.
He went on to wrestle for Lincoln College, finishing fifth at nationals and earning National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-American status.
Along with Charles Grantham, Irwin Little was a member of the class of 1923 and finished second in the mile at the Class B state track meet that year. He and Grantham helped the Hillsboro team to a 10th place finish in the standings.
Brian Pesko graduated from Hillsboro High School 35 years ago with the class of 1980, but with 109 seasons of basketball now in the books, his fingerprints remain all over the record books.
With 1,477 career points, Pesko is sixth in all-time scoring at Hillsboro High School. He is the school's career leader in assists with 313 and steals with 250, and holds the single-season Hiltopper scoring record with 694, a 25.7 average during his senior season.
That year he made both the UPI and Chicago Sun Times all-state teams, made the Springfield State Journal-Register all-area team, was the Class A Decatur Herald & Review player of the year, and was the MVP of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association all-star game.
Pesko's basketball prowess didn't end when he graduated from high school. He was team MVP at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield both years he was there and remains their all-time leading scorer with 1,427 points. He was inducted into the school's hall of fame in 1986.
From there he transferred to Central Missouri State where he led the team in assists, steals, and free throw percentage both years he was there, 1983 and 1984, and won an NCAA Division II national championship with the Mules in 1984. That season he was MVP of the Midwest Regional and was on the Final Four all-tournament team. His national championship team was inducted in the Central Missouri State hall of fame in 2005 and he was inducted as an individual in 2014.
After earning his degree, he taught and coached basketball and baseball at Witt High School for five years, from 1985-1990, before going to work at Nokomis High School where he has taught and coached for the past 25 years.
After coaching freshman basketball for Nokomis for five years, he has been JV coach for the past 19 seasons compiling a 265-49 record. He has coached varsity baseball for the Redskins for 24 years compiling a 446-242 record and winning 10 conference titles and eight regional championships.
Robert "Bertie" Smith, class of 1926, went to the Class B state track meet in the mile in 1924 along with his Hillsboro teammate Pat McClurg who was inducted into the hall of fame last year. In the state finals, Smith led the first three laps of the four-lap event, ended up finishing fifth while McClurg won the state championship.
The following year, though, Smith returned to the state and finished second in the mile.
During the season, he set records at both the Washington University track meet (4:44) and the Montgomery County track meet (4:48.4). He was also captain of the football team and on a Hillsboro basketball team that finished the season with a 12-4 record.
Hall of Fame Article from Journal News Newspaper