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For over twenty years, the mission of the Foundation has been to strengthen the education and extra-curricular opportunities of district students by generating financial support and leadership through our alumni and community.

Since 1990, the Foundation has supported its mission by providing financial resources for:

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The '47 Boilermakers could have played basketball in "The Garden'.  Click HERE for the team picture.

By Dave Clarke
Posted Mar. 25, 2015 at 7:00 AM

The Kewanee Boilermakers’ 1946-47 basketball team was invited to play in New York City's Madison Square Gardens, but didn't. It was probably the only time such an opportunity would come along, but they declined.
How they came to be invited in the first place and the story behind why they didn't go is my latest "history mystery."
I've been getting phone calls and e-mails over the winter months from 1947 KHS graduate Jerry Baldwin, who now lives in sunny Scottsdale, Ariz. He didn't miss an opportunity to tell me it was 80 warm degrees where he was while we were dealing with snow and subzero windchills here in Kewanee.
Kewanee resident Del Skoglund, a 1947 classmate of Jerry's, has been wintering and golfing in Scottsdale and the two got to reminiscing about their high school days 70 years ago.
The subject of the Madison Square Garden game that never happened came up and Jerry asked me to look into it. He believed they had a previous commitment and weren't able to accept the invitation.
Going to the 1947 Kewanite on the Kewanee Public Library's Yearbooks Online, the first thing I found was it was one of the winningest years in the school's sports history, especially in football and basketball.
The Boilermakers went through 9 football games without a loss, were Northwest Conference champions, and were recognized as one of the top grid teams in Illinois.
The basketball team had a record of 28 wins and 3 losses and were recognized as the "uncrowned champions” of Illinois high school basketball in the days before classes based on enrollment.
Southern Illinois' strongest cage teams fell victim to the Boilermakers as they captured the Centralia Holiday Tournament defeating Robinson, Champaign and Peoria Manual on their way to beating the host Centralia Orphans 51-43 in the championship game. The Boilers' co-captains, Walter "Ding" Nass and Marty O’Connor, were selected to the first team, All-Tournament squad.
According to the Kewanite, the team made the "Sweet Sixteen" and competed in the state finals in Champaign for the fourth time in five years. "The '47 Boilermakers will go down in history as one of the school's greatest teams. They captured the Centralia Tourney title, the Illini Conference crown, and regional and sectional championships  and were consistently rates as the state's No. 1 team by AP."
The only reference to the offer to play in New York was the statement "…a team even Madison Square Gardens wanted to see."
The team, which also included Gola Waters, Keith Follett and Bill Walton, was described as having "all the attributes of greatness — experience, poise, good ball handling, hot shooting, alert defense and teamwork."
The driving force behind the highly successful football and basketball programs was the man who coached both sports and served as athletic director, H. F. Brockman who was in his seventh year at KHS. "Coach Brockman has given Kewanee some of its greatest teams and has built a reputation for our school which will be hard to equal or surpass," the yearbook states. No mystery here about why they names the gym after him.
We checked with Mindi Goard at the Kewanee Schools Foundation office Tuesday and found that the 1946-47 Boilermakers basketball team was among the inductees in the first KHS Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004. 
But the untold story of how they were discovered by Madison Square Gardens and why they didn't go remains a mystery.


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