OF MT. PULASKI
fielded its first high school basketball team during the 1912-1913
season. That season was the
beginning that has led to more than 1400 high school victories for one
of the most respected basketball programs in the state of
has long been known for its caliber of competition it played as well as
the outstanding coaches that have coached at
The first team of note was the 1922- 23 team coached by Earl
The 1922-23 team won the district and regional titles, losing to
eventual state champ Villa Grove. This
is the only year in IHSA history that only four teams advanced to state.
team made it to the final eight teams.
In 1926 Kenneth Conrey came and led the Hilltoppers to a 68-25
record over the next four years.
In 1930 George Dertinger came to
and inaugurated the idea of playing “suicide schedules”.
Coach Dertinger won several district and regional titles while
posting an amazing 96-23 record during his five year stay on the
Coach Dolph Stanley, a charter member of the Illinois Basketball
Coaches Association Hall of Fame, came to
Pulaski in 1935 and posted a 60-18 record over 3 years.
The 1936 team coached by Dolph placed
fourth in the state. This
team reached the Sweet Sixteen by defeating rival
32-17. The team’s record
was 26-7 overall, against some of the state’s best teams.
later won a state championship at Taylorville and retired with over 800
Leroy Halberg then came for four years, followed by Virgil
Fletcher, another charter member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches
Association Hall of Fame. Virgil left
after one year where he posted a 19-11 record and later coached at
, retiring with over 700 victories.
Arthur Yates coached one year before Carroll Wood came to
and had six very good years. His
1947 Hilltoppers lost to
in the Sectional finals in a heartbreaking loss, barely missing a Sweet
Sixteen berth in
After Wood left, Frank Jones, James Moore, Loren Dittus, Harry
Manes, and James Koch were some of the coaches who continued the winning
tradition of Mt. Pulaski Basketball.
In 1964 Ed Butkovich came to
. Coach Butkovich started
his career at
with a regional title in 1965, defeating rival
lost to defending state champion
sectional. This was
’s first regional title since 1949.
next won the regional in 1973 and placed second in the sectional.
In the summer of 1974,
. In the 1974-75
Pulaski posted a fine 25-2 record and won the regional but lost on a
last second shot in the sectional.
There would be no stopping
the following year. The
Hilltoppers won the Class ‘A’ State Championship defeating Rova in
the title game.
upset the undefeated and then number one ranked team in the state,
Eldorado, 76-66 in the quarterfinals.
In the semifinals they beat another undefeated team, Buda Western
to advance to the championship game.
Jeff Clements scored the winning basket against Rova to give the
Hilltoppers the State
Championship Title. Other
starters on the title team were Jeff Anderson, David Welch, Brad Gibbs,
and David Thompson with sixth man, Scott Moore.
This season marks the 30th Anniversary of that magical
With three starters coming back,
made a return trip to
in 1977, placing fourth in the State.
1976 Class ‘A’
State Championship Team
The 1978 team reached the Millikin Super-Sectional, losing
to Sullivan. In the regional
title that year,
, led by senior Jeff Clements, defeated Riverton the number one ranked
team in the state, 91-65. Clements
finished his career in 1978 with 3 state tournament appearances where he
scored 179 points and 2212 points for his career, a school record.
returned to the Elite Eight in 1980, losing a heartbreaker to Oakawville
59-57 in the quarterfinals.
almost won the State Title again in 1984, finishing second, losing to
McLeansboro 57-50, the undefeated State Champ.
thrilled the spectators at the Assembly Hall during the 1984 State
Semi-finals when they defeated tournament favorite Chicago St. Mel
76-74. This game, with the
advent of cable television, was seen in all 50 states and in over 150
countries. The starters on
that 1984 team were Steven Hayes, Deron Powell, Roger Cook, Rick
Edwards, and Scott Olden.
The 1985 team again reached the Sweet Sixteen before losing to
eventual State runner-up Chrisman in the Decatur Super-Sectional.
Coach Ed Butkovich retired after the 1996 season with an
outstanding 558-312 record on the hilltop and an overall record of
617-385. Former Illini
center Bill Rucks replaced the legendary coach and guided the toppers
from 1997 to 2002 winning 83 games and back-to-back regional titles in
1998-99. The Hilltoppers are
currently coached by Jim Jumper, who is in his fourth season at the helm
and has averaged over 20 wins a season in his first three years.
has won numerous conference and invitational tournament titles as well
as 29 district and regional titles.
Seven sectional titles have been won, along with nine runner-up
has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen seven times and reaching the State
Pulaski has had its share of fine individual players, some who were
noted for their rebounding, great passing, or their exciting or unique
style of play, but they are too numerous to mention.
Those who have scored over 1,000 points include Harry Hahn, Mike
Kelly, Gary Durchholz, David Welch, Jeff Clements, Deron Powell, Brad
Beggs, Danny Smith, Rex Tschantz, Jarrod Cowan, Clayton Brown, and
Again, over 1400 victories could not be achieved without fine
coaches and fan support.
and the surrounding communities have always supported their team.
One of its greatest fans and long-time scorekeepers, Gene Manes,
was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame many
years ago. Just last year,
long-time scorekeeper, Mary Stewart was also inducted.
Coaches Dolph Stanley, Virgil Fletcher, and Ed Butkovich, along
with the 1976 team are all members of the Hall of Fame.
As you can see, Mt. Pulaski Basketball is one of great tradition
and respect. It has the
ingredients of a successful program – fine players, fans, and coaches
all working together to keep this tradition going.