First Falcon Basketball Teams and Cheerleaders Return to SIC 60 Years Later
In a dominating home opener on Oct. 25, the 2023-24 Falcons soared to victory, defeating Brescia University from Owensboro, Kentucky, with a commanding 113-79 win. While the contemporary team dazzled the audience on the court, a heartwarming reunion took place as the pioneers of Falcon basketball returned to Southeastern Illinois College after a 60-year hiatus. The honored guests were the 1962 and 1963 Falcons, whose journey began in the hallowed halls of Harrisburg High School and the Davenport Gym, long before the iconic “college on the hill” took shape.
Much like today’s Falcons, the early recruits hailed from local communities, including Harrisburg, Galatia, Eldorado, Johnston City, Carrier Mills, Muddy, and Omaha. The 1962 team, under the tutelage of Coach Lawrence Calufetti, took on formidable opponents, including Mt. Vernon, Belleville, Centralia, Lincoln, and Flat River, Missouri. In the following year, the 1963 team, guided by Coach Virgil Motsinger – whose name now graces the SIC Sports Complex – expanded their roster to include Bethel, McKendree, St. Louis Baptist, Southeast Missouri, Wabash Valley, and Paducah.
The seeds of this reunion were sown by Brian Davenport of Eldorado, a member of both the 1962 and 1963 teams, who now resides in Arizona. His vision found wings when he connected with Falcons’ Head Coach Sam Swinford with help from friend Jerry King. The former Falcons and their loved ones were treated to a memorable dinner at the Heritage Room, lovingly prepared by Chef Michael Intravaia of the Falcon Bistro. Here, they rekindled old friendships, met the current team, and pored over yearbooks that documented their time as Falcons. The players and cheerleaders from yesteryears were also honored during the halftime of the game.
Reflecting on the changes since their time as Falcons, Davenport noted that while the fundamentals of the game remain constant, some rules and innovations, like the three-point shot, have transformed the sport. One remarkable evolution is the level of conditioning; today’s players focus on strength training and rigorous conditioning, a far cry from the days when they simply hit the court for practice.
The 1962 team roster included Don Dixon, Larry Phelps, Bill Henshaw, Jack Lane, Jay Flanders, J. B. Henshaw, Poley Disney, Bill Abney, David Poole, manager Ted Fuson, James Brian Davenport, Larry Eubanks, Steve Stanley, Jerry Vick, and Fred Ewan, and despite being a relatively young team, they managed to secure a few wins. The 1963 team featured Brian Davenport, Dale Roberson, Carl Shelton, Bob Karnes, Bob Asher, manager Bill Lehman, Ron Morse, Larry Morse, Gene Schnerly, Jim Schmook, and Randy Suits. In their second year, the Falcons proudly notched 14 wins.
In 1963, the first cheerleading squad took center stage to rally support for the Falcons comprised of five young ladies – Katie Endsley, Carol Ann Gardner, Marilyn Davidson, Sharon Hetherington, and Shirley Brantley – they added spirit and charm to the games.
Several members were unable to attend, some residing as far away as Florida, Virginia, and Chicago. The passing of some, including Jerry Vick of Johnston City, Bill Abney, Bill Henshaw, J.B. Henshaw, David Poole, Jay Flanders, Bob Absher, Jim Schmook, Katie Endsley, Carol Ann Gardner, Sharon Hetherington, and Bill Lehman, reminds those left behind of the precious memories that remain.
Upcoming home games for the 2023-24 SIC Falcons:
Nov. 13 vs. Greenville University
Nov. 15 vs. Kaskaskia College
Nov. 18 vs. Harper College
Nov. 19 vs. Oakland City University
Nov. 21 vs. West Kentucky Community & Technical College
Nov. 29 vs. Arkansas State University – Newport
Jan. 8 vs. Lake Land College
Jan. 31 vs. Brescia University
Feb. 13 vs. Campbellsville University – Harrodsburg
For more information and to keep up with the Falcons’ journey, please visit sic.edu/basketball or find them on social media.