The Amazing Appleknockers: Illinois' Cinderella Basketball Team of 1964 (Paperback)
In 1964, Cobden was a quiet village of 900 residents tucked in the Shawnee Hills of Southern Illinois. The high school's basketball team changed that, grabbing the attention of sports fans throughout Illinois as it made a dramatic run to the finals of the Illinois state high school basketball tournament. An unusually tall and talented team with a catchy mascot, the Appleknockers, Cobden played at a time before schools were divided into classes based on enrollment. The school had just 147 students, and the Appleknockers defeated schools that were many times their size as they moved along the tournament trail.This true account traces the background of the Appleknockers' coach, Dick Ruggles, and how a young man from Boston wound up coaching in the hillside farming community. The story covers the two years that Ruggles served as Cobden's coach, the two most successful basketball seasons in the school's history. It also reveals the obstacles, tragedies, and triumphs the players faced, both on and off the basketball court.The achievements of the Appleknockers were widely covered in newspapers from Evansville, Indiana, to St. Louis, Missouri, to Chicago. Their readers were drawn to the underdog team, and the Appleknockers moved from the sports pages into Illinois folklore. People from Illinois and the surrounding states are still talking about the Appleknockers nearly half a century later, which speaks to the enduring and far-reaching appeal of this team and its story.