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DECATUR — By the time Marcus Phillips was dominating at the state track meet for MacArthur in 1992, he'd already competed in some high-pressure meets.

Those meets came in his grandparents' backyard. With his family.

One of Decatur's most famous athletic families had a second member inducted into the Decatur Public Schools Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday, with Marcus Phillips joining his uncle Rudy Phillips in the club.

Marcus was joined by nine other athletes, three Decatur High state championship boys basketball teams and former Stephen Decatur boys basketball and girls track and field coach Rease Binger, who were all officially inducted at halftime of the Eisenhower at MacArthur boys basketball game on Friday.

Marcus' dad Richard and all his uncles were athletic standouts at Stephen Decatur. Marcus, his brother Felipe and several of his cousins later became high school stars themselves. It made for some intense family get-togethers.

"It was competitive," said Marcus, a 1992 MacArthur graduate, laughing. "From my grandfather Artie Phillips all the way down. I remember there was an alley behind (Artie's) house, and there would be seven or eight of us back there competing on our own little track in the alley.

"It was a tough environment, but I think it made us all competitive and prepared for adversity."

Marcus helped lead the Hall of Fame 1992 MacArthur track team to the state title with championships in both the 110 and 300 hurdles. He was just the third athlete in state meet history to accomplish both hurdles titles in one season. Phillips was also a member of the state champion 400 relay team. He accounted for 30 points at that meet.

"(Harbeck) brought so much passion and it spread throughout the whole city," said Marcus, who is now an senior admissions counselor at the University of Iowa. "That experience taught me about working together as a team and is something I use every day in my job.

"Now being inducted into the Hall of Fame ... this is huge for me, with so many great athletes who have come out of Decatur."

Here's a look at the rest of the latest DPS Athletic Hall of Fame class:

1930-31 Decatur High boys basketball

Decatur had only won one game in five previous trips to state and hadn't been to the tournament in 10 years, but were under a new coach in Gay Kintner. His teams would make state 11 times, play for four titles and win three.

The team, which finished 29-4, pulled off one of the biggest upsets of sectionals, knocking off Springfield 16-14 to avenge a pair of earlier defeats. 

Playing against Galesburg in the title game, Decatur trailed 16-8 at half, but a 12-2 third quarter, then the first eight points of the fourth clinched a 30-26 win for Decatur. DPS Hall of Famer Ray Rex had 12 points in the title game to lead Decatur. He, Paul Hill, Al Schroeder and John Stuckey were named to the all-tournament team.

1935-36 Decatur High boys basketball

The 1935-36 team wasn’t expected to make state. Decatur had lost 10 games, including five in a row heading into the postseason.

But once at state, Decatur made the most of it. Against Johnston City in the semifinals, Decatur won 20-19 on a last-second driving layup by DPS Hall of Famer Dale Minnick.

In the title game, Danville was attempting to become the first unbeaten champion, but Decatur instead became the school with the most losses to ever win the tournament (24-11), coming back from a 15-12 halftime deficit to win 26-22.

Pail Weingand had 10 points in the title game to lead Decatur. Minick and fellow DPS Hall of Famer Ken Park were named to the five-man all-tournament team.

1944-45 Decatur High boys basketball

Decatur made four more state appearances under Kintner before finally winning it all again in 1944-45 with a 39-2 team.

By then, the game had changed to something closer to what's played today, and Decatur was at the forefront. Behind DPS Hall of Famer Bob “Chick” Doster, who tied the tournament record with 34 points on 16 field goals, led Decatur to a 77-45 win against Collinsville, setting a record for points in a game.

In the quarterfinals against Galesburg, Decatur’s Ralph Rutherford stole the ball and converted a three-point play to force a 66-66 tie, then the Reds won in overtime on a short shot by Doster with two seconds left to give Decatur a 73-72 win. The 145 points were the most ever at state.

The title game came down to Champaign and Decatur — the No. 1 and 2 ranked teams heading into the postseason. They’d played twice during the season, both as members of the Big 12 Conference, with Decatur winning the first 52-50 and Champaign the second 44-42.

In the championship, Decatur jumped to a 26-19 halftime lead and held on to win 62-54. Doster had 18 and George Riley had 16. Doster tied the tournament mark with 96 points.

That Decatur team was the highest-scoring in tournament history to that point with 274 points. Decatur, at the time, joined Rockford and Centralia as the only three-time state champs.

Cary Eller, Eisenhower, 1968

The Panthers’ MVP in 1967, Eller was an outstanding guard and middle linebacker — “He is the finest all-around guard we’ve ever had,” said his coach, DPS Hall of Famer John Alexander. He was all-city as a junior and senior, recording 113 tackles as a junior and a then-school record 129 as a senior. Eller was also a standout on the basketball and baseball teams.

"That was like another life ago," Eller said. "I told one of my grandsons last year when it was his senior year that it had been 50 years since I'd been on that football field. So this is definitely an honor."

Eller's children excelled at sports and his grandsons, Tate and Tazden Eller, have both been standouts at Heyworth.

"I always ask them: Where do you think the athletic ability came from?" Eller said, smiling. "Of course, my father and uncles were great athletes, too."

Terra (Crutchfield-Tyus) Jones, MacArthur, 1992

“Shy T” let her running and jumping speak for her. As a freshman she won city titles in the 400 and long jump. By her senior year she was dominating at the state level, winning a state title in the 300 hurdles and third-place finishes in the 100 hurdles and long jump. In all, she finished with six state medals in her high school career. She went on to win Big Ten titles in the long jump and as part of the 4x100 relay at the University of Illinois.

"Just to be recognized among all the athletes that have come out of this city for the hard work I put in, it's a really big deal," said Jones, who works from her Houston-based home in customer support. "There was so much support from the whole city at that time."

Tim Littrell, MacArthur, 1973

As a senior, Littrell averaged a then-school record 22.2 points and scored 554 points as a senior, including a record 43 in a single-game. He also led the Generals’ baseball team with a .375 batting average as a senior. Littrell went on to play and later coach at Millikin. During his time with the Big Blue he was team MVP in 1976 and ‘77. He was named to the Millikin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988.

"As a lifetime resident of Decatur, this is especially humbling — knowing the number of athletes who have come through the city through the years," said Littrell, who is an assistant professor at Millikin in the education department. "I was lucky to play for Ray DeMoulin — he was a wonderful man and I loved him to death. And I learned to play for Jack Sunderlik from the 1962 team — he lived across the street from me. I was happy to follow the two mentors I had into the Hall of Fame."

Eddie Taylor, Lakeview, 1980

Taylor graduated as Lakeview’s all-time leading scorer with 1,195 points and was city player of the year as a senior, just missing on fellow Hall-of-Famer David Marques’ single-season record with 24.9 points per game. The 5-foot-11 guard, who was all-city in football as a junior, went on to play basketball at Millikin.

"This is a chance for me to remember where I came from," said Taylor, who works at ADM. "It's good to be honored while you're still here and can still help the future generations. I didn't think it would ever happen."

Rease Binger, Stephen Decatur (1976-93)

Binger coached both boys basketball and girls track for 17 seasons. He was a six-time Macon County Girls Track Coach of the Year — his teams were known for dominant sprint relays and stars including Yvonne Taylor, Susie Hunt and Scarlet Powell. In basketball, his teams won two regional titles and a sectional title in 1985-86.

"I enjoyed a long career of coaching and I never had a team that I didn't have good things happen with," said Binger, who is retired but still tutors Decatur students in his spare time. "I just enjoyed working with the players, and developing the kids into good teammates."

David Marques, Lakeview, 1972

A 6-foot-4 sharpshooter who always had the green light, Marques led the city in scoring in both 1971 and ‘72. His 26.4 points per game average and 659 total points were city records when he graduated. Marques went on to play at Lincoln Trail College and had a school-record 44 points in 1973.

"It's an honor to be recognized — it was a surprise," said Marques, who worked at Firestone for 28 years and Hydro-Gear in Sullivan for 15 years before retiring last year.

K.C. Hammond-Diedrich, Eisenhower, 1996

Hammond-Diedrich graduated as the Panthers’ all-time leading scorer in basketball (1,385), and all-time kills (888) and blocks (274) leader in volleyball. She was the Macon County Player of the Year in both volleyball and basketball as a senior. She went on to star at Millikin in both sports and became a member of the Big Blue Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.

Lee Utt, Decatur High, 1952

Utt, who died in 2010, was a standout in both basketball and baseball at Decatur High. He earned a scholarship to Bradley in both sports. Utt was Bradley’s outstanding athlete in 1954-55, Bradley basketball MVP in 54-55 and 55-56, and was both team MVP and All-American in baseball in 1956. Utt played pro baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, retiring at the AAA level. 

Aaron Holloway, Stephen Decatur, 1966

Holloway, along with teammate Ben Cooper, was one of two wrestlers to bring home state titles for Decatur in 1965 — the first wrestling titles in Decatur history. Holloway, who won a sectional championship in 1964, beat John Palazzolo of Elmwood Park 9-4 in the semifinals and won by judge’s decision after the state title match at 165 pounds against Midlothian Bremen’s Dan Strand was tied 6-6 after one overtime. Holloway finished the season 25-0. He went on to wrestle at Southern Illinois.

Lee Boyko, Eisenhower, 1963

Boyko was shortstop and among the leading hitters on the 1962 Eisenhower state title baseball team that was inducted in the October 2018 class. Boyko was on the all-state tournament team as a sophomore, then hit .388 as a junior for the state title team, driving in 19. He was 5-for-11 at the state tournament. As a senior in 1963, Boyko hit .373 with 31 runs scored. Boyko was also the Panthers’ quarterback in 1962 and a starting guard on the basketball team. He went on to star in college for the Illinois State baseball team.

 


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Contact Justin Conn at (217) 421-7971. Follow him on Twitter: @jconnHR

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Sports Editor

Sports editor for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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