Boys Basketball

A century of Belleville West basketball

The 1917 Belleville Township High School basketball team in its inaugural season.
The 1917 Belleville Township High School basketball team in its inaugural season.

The Belleville West Maroons will celebrate a century of basketball by honoring former coaches, players and cheerleaders at their game with Southwestern Conference rival Alton Friday night.

Here’s a look back at some highlights from 100 years of Belleville Township basketball history:


FIRST SEASON: The doors to Belleville High School opened and the the Maroons played their first season under the leadership of coach F.J. Friedli who led the team to a record of 7-4.

FIRST GAME: Belleville lost to Jerseyville 26-24.

FIRST WIN: Belleville defeated O’Fallon 38-26. That win was the first if six straight for the Maroons who had no gymnasium and practiced on schoolyard cinders. A low ceilinged, post-chocked, rough floored roller rink was used for practices after the first game.


SHORT SEASON: Belleville won its first and only game of the season, a 29-23 triumph over Pinckneyville. The gymnasium was not finished due to World War I and the construction of Scott Field which made labor unavailable. The team had no place to practice and gave up the struggle after just one game.


A HOME COURT: The dedication of the gym was held on opening night as Belleville defeated Pinckneyville 20-15. The Maroons won just four more games that season, finishing 5-8.


SOUTHWESTERN CONFERENCE FORMED: The first edition of the league was formed prior to the start of the season and included Alton, Belleville, Collinsville, Edwardsville,, Granite City and Wood River. The conference currently includes eight schools — Belleville East, Belleville West, O’Fallon, Edwardsville, East St. Louis, Collinsville, Alton and Granite City

FIRST SWC CHAMPIONSHIP: Nicknamed the “Fighting Five,’’ Belleville enjoyed its best season up to this time. The Maroons won the Southwestern Conference championship and finished 19-4.

FIRST DISTRICT CHAMPIONSHIP: Behind the play of District All-Stars Walter Ackermann and Harold Butts, the Maroons won their first district title with a 13-5 triumph over Wood River in the title game. Belleville then defeated Trenton 19-12 in its first sectional game before losing to Centralia 15-13.


DISTRICT CHAMPIONS: Led by District all-star Harold Kaesar, the Fighting Five won the district title, which was held in Belleville, and finished 13-11


DISTRICT CHAMPIONS: Belleville won the district title, edging East St. Louis 21-12. The Fighting Five finished 17-8.


FIRST 20 WIN SEASON: Belleville cracked the magical 20-win mark for the first time, finishing 20-5.


CO-CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS: Belleville finished 19-10 and tied for the SWC championship with Collinsville and Granite City with a record of 10-4


NEW GYM: The Maroons opened their new gym with a 27-19 loss to East St. Louis. It was the first of many for West that year which finished 2-19.


NEW COACH: H.B. Tabor became the second head coach in Belleville history. He would go on to compile a record of 38-49 in four years.


NEW COACH: Frank Scott takes over for Tabor and would guide Belleville to a record of 148-120 and three regional championships in nine years.

MILESTONE YEAR: The Maroons would set a new record with 22 wins and go on to take the regional title.


THE BEST TO DATE: Led by Vernon Vogt, the Maroons finished 26-10 and were ranked in the top 30 out of 860 schools in Illinois. Belleville would go on to win a regional championship before losing to Collinsville 32-20 in the title game of the sectional tournament. A reserve on that team was Bob Goalby, who would go on to win the 1968 Masters Golf Championship and is one of the founding fathers of the Senior PGA Tour, now the Champions Tour.


REGIONAL CHAMPIONS: Led by the 1-2 scoring punch of Pete Mollman and Chuck Weiss, the Maroons won a regional title and finished 16-11.


FREEARK TAKES OVER: Ray Freeark takes over as head coach at Belleville and would coach eight years. The Maroons would go 113-108 and win two regional titles under Freeark.


A NEW RECORD: : Joe Polich, who would go on to score 1,069 points in his career at Belleville, set a new single game scoring record with 42 points in a game with Western Military Academy. Sean Keefe later scored 42 in 1992-93 against Cahokia. That total is third all time behind Jim Hascall’s 49 point effort in the 1955-56 season against Cahokia and 43 by Nick Van Osdale in 2012-13 against Vianney, Mo.


REGIONAL CHAMPIONS: The Maroons finished 16-15 but saved their last three wine for the regional, beating East St. Louis Lincoln 73-64 in the title game.


REGIONAL CHAMPIONS: Led by Mel Patton and Chas Stegmeyer, the Maroons salvaged a 13-17 season by winning the regional title. In a 49-36 win over Dupo in the title game, Belleville made its last 14 field goal attempts over the final three quarters and were 17 of 20 (85 percent).


TURNER TAKES THE REIGNS: Jerry Turner became the new coach at Belleville and after suffering through a 13-16 season in his first year, led the Maroons to six straight 20 win seasons, six regional titles, three sectional titles and a third place finish in the 1965-66 Illinois High School Association State Basketball Tournament.


FIRST SECTIONAL TITLE: Led by the trio of Bill Schlueter, Frank Synek and Barry Jackson, the Maroons went 21-10 placed second in the SWC and won the first IHSA Sectional title in school history. West defeated Marion 70-67 wto win the Carbondale Sectional, then lost to Benton 65-59 at the West Franfort Super-Sectional.


GOING BACK-TO-BACK: Belleville captured the co-championship in the SWC and led by Roger Bechtold and Barry Jackson finished 24-5 and won the Granite City Sectional title, edging Madison 71-68. But like the previous season, Belleville lost in the East St. Louis Super-Sectional, this time to Centralia 78-66.


BRINGING BACK SOME HARDWARE: Led by the legendary Joe Wiley and Bill Snellings, the Maroons enjoyed their finest season ever. With Wiley scoring 703 points, West won the SWC title with an 11-1 record. After winning the Althoff Regional and East St. Louis Sectional titles, the Maroons defeated Lawrenceville 92-88 in double overtime to win the East St. Louis Super-Sectional and earn their first trip to the IHSA Boys State Tournament in Champaign. The Maroons defeated Joliet Central 74-72 in their quarterfinal round game and after dropping a 65-64 heartbreaker to Galesburg in the semifinal, rebounded to beat Decatur 84-57 in the third place game.


SPLITTING UP: Belleville Township split into Belleville West and Belleville East with Dave Shannahan taking over as the Maroons new head coach. Shannahan would lead the Maroons for seven years and compile a mark of 110-79. West remained in the Southwestern Conference, placing third with a 7-5 mark and 15-11 for the season.


CROSS -TOWN RIVALS: The Maroons — otherwise known as the Cardiac Kids — defeated their city rivals twice, edging the Lancers 56-55 in the semifinals of the Dupo Tournament then ending the season for Belleville East with a 74-58 first round win at the Althoff Regional. West won the sectional title, edging Carlinville 73-59, then losing in overtime to Effingham 54-49 at the Charleston Super-Sectional.


A THIRD OUTRIGHT SWC TITLE: Led by the sharpshooting Steve Craig, the Maroons won the third outright title in school history, finishing 11-1. West, which finished 20-6 overall, lost to East St. Louis Lincoln 58-57 in the first round of the regional.


MUELLER IN CHARGE: Roger Mueller takes over the coaching duties prior to this season and leads West to six regional titles and a sectional championship. Under Mueller, West won 20 or more games five times and he finished with a coaching mark of 221-173 in his 15 years.

A TERRIFIC TRIO: Led by three of the more well known names in the program’s history in Milton Wiley, Bill Schmidt and Rusty Lisch, the Maroons rebounded from a so-so-regular season to win the Belleville East Regional and the Collinsville Sectional. The Maroons edged the host Kahoks 85-77 in the sectional title game. Mater Dei then ended the season for West, beating the Maroons 66-60 at the Carbondale Super-Sectional. Wiley was one of the top players in school history, Schmidt went on to become the Maroons head coach and Lisch went on to play quarterback at Notre Dame and in the National Football League.


AN OFFENSIVE POWER: With Wiley (683 points) and Lisch (619) leading the way, West finished 21-7 and was the top scoring team in school history. West scored 2,274 points, averaging 81.2 points per game that season.


SWC CHAMPIONS: With five players with more than 260 points, the Maroons won the SWC championship, finishing with a 24-5 record overall and 7-1 in league play. West lost to East St. Louis Lincoln 51-37 in the sectional title contest.


REGIONAL CHAMPIONS: After a sub-500 regular season, the Maroons captured a Class AA regional title and finished 13-13.


SCHMIDT TAKES OVER: A former star with the Maroons as a player, Bill Schmidt took over as the head coach and compiled a record of 243-197 in his 16 years. Schmidt had just three winning seasons and won just one regional title in his first 11 years. But in his final five years, the Maroons won three outright SWC championships, five regional titles, won 20 or more games three times and advanced to the Class AA State Tournament in the 2002-03 season.


SECTIONAL CHAMPIONS: After winning a Class AA Regional title the previous season with a 16-14 record, the Maroons were one of the top teams in the state during the 2000-2001 season. Winning the SWC title, West used the scoring power of Ramon Kelly (18.7 ppg.) and a superb supporting cast which included Katoe Chapman, David Wagner and Carl Heuer to win a sectional championship. West, which finished its season at 27-4 had its dreams of a trip to the state tournament end with a 62-59 loss to SWC rival Alton.


STATE TOURNAMENT BOUND: The first of back-to-back SWC championships was just one of many highlights for the Maroons who became the second team in school history to reach the state finals. Finishing with a 27-6 record, West was led by a balanced attack featuring J.B. Jones and Robbie Kaiser which defeated Althoff to win the Class AA Salem Sectional ttile then beat Triad 39-34 to win the Carbondale Super-Sectional. The Maroons led Evanston in their Class AA quarterfinal until the Wildcats rallied for a 58-40 win.


A DISAPPOINTING END TO A GREAT SEASON: The Maroons were again one of the top teams in the state as they raced out to a 15-0 start before losing to Carbondale at the Belleville East Tournament. Included among that streak was a win at the Centralia Holiday Tournament. Led by Xavier Price and Jones, two of four players who averaged in double figures, West marched through an undefeated SWC season and finished the season with a record of 28-2. But after winning a regional championship, the Maroons were derailed by Carbondale 81-72 in the title game of the Carbondale Sectional.

2004 -05

THE MUNIZ ERA BEGINS: A young and energetic Joe Muniz took over for Schmidt at the start of the 2004-05 season and has guided the Maroons to a co-SWC title in 2010-11 season, a regional championship in 2011-12 and eight seasons of finishing with a .500 or better record. Now in his 13th season, Muniz is currently 166-166 for his career, including a mark of 8-4 this season. West placed second in the Centralia Holiday Tournament last week.

A GOOD START: The Maroons finished 18-9 in Muniz’s first season but lost to Cahokia 66-62 in the regional title contest.


TURNING IT AROUND: After a rough two year stretch in which it won just 12 of 50 games, West finished 15-11 this season and began a stretch of six straight winning seasons.


THE MARATHON FINISH: Another good season for the Maroons was in store as they finished 10-4 in the SWC and 17-9 overall. But the game that will live forever in the minds of both Belleville East and Belleville West fans occurred on March 6, 2009 in the regional title game. After splitting a pair of regular season games, the Lancers and Maroons staged an epic battle that left players from both teams exhausted and fans wanting more. East, which went on to reach the Class 4A Super-Sectional, built a 41-25 halftime lead only to see West, led by Kane Sweeney and Julian Doss, score 56 second half points to tie the game at 81 at the end of regulation. Sweeney scored 27 points and Doss added 21. The game then continued for four overtimes before the Lancers prevailed by an almost unbelievable score of 126-115.


SHARING THE TITLE: The Maroons enjoyed another outstanding season as they finished 18-8 and shared the SWC championship with O’Fallon with 11-3 marks.


WINNING A REGIONAL: West finished 17-12 and gave Muniz his first regional championship with a 62-58 win over Belleville East. West, which won six games in a row to finish with a flourish, lost to Edwardsville 60-54 in the first round of the sectional.

ALL-TIME RECORD: 1,445 wins, 1,170 losses.

Information compiled by Dean Criddle and Todd Eschman of the News-Democrat staff along with George H. Nold’s History of Belleville West Basketball Book

Individual Records

Career Points

1. Milton Wiley 1,726

2. Mel Patton 1,711

3. Joe Wiley 1,394

4. Ramon Kelly 1,299

5. Roy King 1,226

Most Points in one season

1. Joe Wiley 703 1966 (season)

2. Milton Wiley 683 1975

3. Roy King 668 1996

4. Nick Van Osdale 635 2013

5. Rusty Lisch 619 1975

Most Points in One game

1. Jim Hascall 49 vs. Cahokia (1955-56)

2. Nick Van Osdale 43 vs. Vianney (2012-13)

3. Joe Polich 42 vs. Western Mil. Academy (1953-54)

4. Sean Keefe 42 vs. Cahokia (1992-93)

5. Jerry Russell 41 vs. Bethato (1956-57)

Career Rebounds

1. Joe Wiley 1,000

2. Ray Wiley 689

3. Del Germann 559

Most Rebounds in one season

1. Joe Wiley 385 (1966)

2. Joe Wiley 374 (1965)

3. Ray Wiley 334 (1968)

Most Rebounds in one game

1. Joe Wiley 22 vs. Collinsville (1964)

2. Joe Wiley 21 vs. Collinsville (1964)

3. Sean French 21 vs. Granite City (1986)

Career Assists

1. Milton Wiley 419

2. Roy King 368

3. J.B. Jones 319

4. Mark Lanxon 312

Most Assists in one season

1. Chuck Fairbairon 195 (1975)

2. Tom Schmidt 179 (1982)

3. Milton Wiley 171 (1974)