100 years of hoops in Dupo

Pictured, current and past players, coaches and others associated with the Dupo High School boys basketball, cheerleading and dance programs gather on the court Friday night in celebration of 100 years of boys basketball at the school.  

Dupo High School celebrated 100 years of boys basketball with special ceremonies Friday night prior to the junior varsity and varsity home matches with New Athens.

Several past players and coaches were on hand to commemorate the milestone occasion, as were former cheerleaders, dance team members and many others who helped take part in the long history of the program.

Per IHSA records, the Tigers went 12-8 during their inaugural hoops season in 1923-24 under head coach Keith Purl.

A number of historical accomplishments were shared to attendees of Friday’s ceremonies. 

The first district title for Dupo came during the 1931-32 season under head coach John Keys. The Tigers finished with a record of 25-8.

In all, Dupo boys hoops won four district titles – the others coming in 1959-60, 1963-64 and 1965-66.

The first regional crown won by the Tigers was in 1946-47, during which they went 29-7 under head coach Mervin Baker. The 29 wins remain a single-season record for the program.

Dupo has won six regional titles over the years – the others coming in 1949-50, 1950-51, 1954-55, 1959-60 and 1997-98.

There are six associated with Dupo basketball that have been inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame: coaches Baker, Paul Taylor and Steve McFall, player Kendall Rhine, longtime sportswriter Norm Sanders and friend of basketball George “Buddy” Wilke.

Rhine is the only former player to end up playing professional basketball. 

A 6-foot-9 center, Rhine starred on Dupo’s legendary 1959-60 squad before going on to play at Rice University from 1961-64.

There, he earned two All-Southwest Conference selections and still holds the single-season rebounding record. 

At Rice, Rhine ranks 10th all-time in scoring and fourth all-time in rebounding.

Rhine was drafted by the St. Louis Hawks of the NBA before ultimately playing in the ABA with the Kentucky Colonels (1967-68) and Houston Mavericks (1968-69). 

He also won a gold medal while playing for the U.S. team in the 1967 Pan-Am Games.

Other historical milestones for the century-old Dupo hoops program include John Keys holding the record for most coaching wins with 231 and Glenn Graff holding the single-game scoring mark with 75 points in a win over Waterloo in 1956.

There are seven Dupo hoopsters in the 1,000-point club. In addition to Graff, there’s Tim Weichert (Class of 1998), Brian Grasle (Class of 1999), Kurt Kessler (Class of 2006), Caleb Tatum (Class of 2011), Austin Francis (Class of 2017) and Kelvin Swims (Class of 2019). 

In 100 years of hoops, the overall record for Dupo sits at 1,153 wins and 1,343 losses.

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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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