Sad to report that southern Illinois has lost an amazing basketball icon. Max Hooper, formerly of Mt Vernon, passed away in Birmingham, Alabama at the age of 88. Max enriched the lives of everyone he encountered. Although he lived in Alabama after his high school and college career, Max was a tremendous ambassador for Southern Illinois, the City of Mt. Vernon, MVTHS, the athletic department, and Rams Basketball. A member of the inaugural MVTHS Sports Hall of Fame, Max was the main cog (#47) on the Mt Vernon back-to-back State Championships in 1949-1950. He went on to have a stellar career for the Fighting Illini at Illinois, where he played on the 1952 National Final Four team that placed Third, and the 1954 Big Ten Championship team.
Max and his wonderful wife, Janie, returned often to Mt Vernon and southern Illinois. They attended several Hall of Fame Banquets, Ram games, class reunions, and other community events. He was great at encouraging current and former athletes,and took great interest in their development. Max played for legendary coach, Stanley Changnon. He was at the forefront of passing the Changnon name from the original gym to the new gym, by attending multiple school board meetings to express his opinion and passion for what Coach Changnon gave Mt Vernon as a coach and educator. That mission was accomplished. The gym at the new school is also known as Changnon Gym.
A strong man of Faith, Max used his communication talent to develop a radio devotion known as "A Moment in God's Word" which aired for about 5 years on local Christian Radio WVYN 90.9 The Vine. He also authored a devotional book of the same name. All of our lives have been enriched by knowing and spending time with Max Hooper. He will be missed.
Gamber Recruits Brandon Anthony to Play for the Warriors
Congratulations to Brandon Anthony, versatile guard #5 of Herrin, for committing to play college hoops at Rend Lake College for new coach Brian Gamber. He will be a great addition to the Warriors program. As point guard, Anthony was a 1,000 point scorer for the Tigers, selected IBCA All-South in 3A two straight years, River-to-River All Conference three straight years, finished HS career as Top-5 at Herrin in scoring, steals, and assists. He has shown the ability to make things happen on the court to put his team in a position to win.
Boys State Basketball Tournament Returns to Champaign
The IHSA announced a move back to the Assembly Hall (State Farm Center) in Champaign on the campus of the University of Illinois. The boys state tournament will be held March 11-12-13, 2021 after seeing a steady drop in attendance at Peoria. This move is welcome news by many fans, and should increase attendance. Meanwhile, the Girls State Tournament will remain at Redbird Arena in Bloomington-Normal on the campus of Illinois State University.
HOLLOWAY PICKED TO LEAD THE BASKETBALL RAMS
Another former Mount Vernon Ram basketball player will carry the torch as the new Boys Head Basketball Coach. Tim Holloway, a 1994 graduate of MVTHS was selected and approved by a vote of the school board on Wednesday evening. He replaces Doug Creel, who has retired as head basketball coach. Holloway is the fifth All-Time leading scorer in Rams basketball history, amassing 1,355 points, and he was inducted into the Mt Vernon High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2014, as a result of his athletic prowess in both basketball and baseball.
During his basketball career as a Ram, Holloway was an All-State Honorable Mention player, helping to lead the team to three 20-win plus seasons, and an overall record of 86-24 while playing under Coach Lee Emery, and Assistant Coach, Doug Creel. Those Rams teams won the Regional four straight years, also grabbed a Sectional Championship and a berth in the Super-Sectional in 1992 when they finished at 25-5. In addition to All-State honors, Tim was the team MVP, All-Conference First Team selection, and named to the IBCA All-South team.
Following his athletic career at Mount Vernon High School , Holloway received an athletic scholarship for both basketball and baseball, and went on to have a successful basketball career at SIU-Edwardsville where he scored 786 career points for the Cougars, while grabbing 294 rebounds with his 6’5” frame. He made 62 treys during his career at SIU-E, connecting on 34% of his shots behind the arc, and made 45% of his shots inside the arc.
Holloway is no stranger to Mount Vernon student-athletes, parents, or fans. He has been the Head Baseball Coach of the Rams for the past sixteen years, accumulating 334 baseball wins, the most in school history. His teams have won 7 Regional Championships, 1 Sectional, 1 Super-Sectional, and a 4th Place Trophy at the State Baseball Tournament in 2013. During his 16-year span as the head baseball coach, Holloway has had only 2 losing seasons, and won 20 or more games in ten of those sixteen seasons. (No games were played in 2020 due to the pandemic and school closure). Holloway also served as an Assistant Basketball Coach for seven years under Creel from 1999 to 2006.
The 2013 Rams Baseball team, coached by Holloway, was recently inducted into the Mount Vernon High School Sports Hall of Fame. That team is the only Rams baseball team in school history to bring home a State Tournament trophy. As it stands now, Holloway is expected to continue to be the Rams Head Baseball coach as well. There were two board members who voted no on his selection as the new basketball coach, and one member abstained from voting.
The MVTHS Board of Education has not reached a decision on the hiring of a new Athletic Director to replace Creel. That decision is expected to be made and announced sometime later in the year. Creel will still be on staff for roughly 100 days to help in the transition with the new Athletic Director.
Our 30-Minute Interview with the Late Jerry Sloan
Hall of Fame Player & Coach, Jerry Sloan, passed away on May 22. He was a legend, and a winner at every level of basketball: High School, College, and the NBA. He was enshrined int he Hall of Fame in 2009. He amassed over NBA 1,200 coaching victories in his career. He sat down with us for this 30-minute interview, during which we discussed his entire career, his work ehtic, and we talked about the players of today. Rest in Peace, Jerry. You will be missed.
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Video Archive of "The Sports Couch" featuring Jay Shidler
Enjoy our interview with basketball legend, JAY SHIDLER, last August on "The Sports Couch" show. WATCH on the Video Screen above. We took a stroll down memory lane with "The Blond Bomber" discussing the State Tournament runs at Lawrenceville in the 1970's, the National Championship while playing at Kentucky, and the important focus and passion that he has in his life today. Watch & Enjoy!
My Interview with Rick Horton in KMOX Studio
This was the interview I had with Cardinal broadcaster, Rick Horton, in the KMOX studios at St Louis which led to my selection as the KMOX Cardinals Spring Training Correspondent.