TriCounty The song has ended but the melody lingers on. Manual's incredible 36-game Class AA boys basketball state tournament winning streak ended in the 1998 Sweet 16. The school's record run of four championships was doomed when the 1997 graduation of All-Americans Marcus Griffin and Sergio McClain left the Rams with an all-guard starting lineup.
But what a guard Manual had in 6-foot-3 Frank Williams, the Tri-County's Male Athlete of the Year for 1998.
"With Frank on your team, you can play with anyone," Manual coach Wayne McClain said. And win 27 out of 30, he might have added. That was the worst Rams' record in Williams' four high school years.
But Williams continued the Manual mystique like a one-man army, leading the Rams in points scored (22.8 average), rebounds (6.4) and assists (4.9).
And in arguably the best year for individual Illinois talent, Williams was named the best player in the state, becoming the third Mr. Basketball award winner in area (and Manual) history.
After graduation, Williams played in the McDonald All-America game at Norfolk, Va., and in Magic's Roundball Classic in Auburn Hills, Mich.
Now at the University of Illinois, he is completing classroom work to become eligible to join the Illini and former teammates McClain and Griffin next season.
The song has ended but the melody lingers on. Manual's incredible 36-game Class AA boys basketball state tournament winning streak ended in the 1998 Sweet 16. The school's record run of four championships was doomed when the 1997 graduation of All-Americans Marcus Griffin and Sergio McClain left the Rams with an all-guard starting lineup.
Hockey was a sport local fans could watch only if they went to Chicago or St. Louis until BardezBanian founded the Peoria Stars in 1959.
The two were with the Pekin Stars until 1970, when they formed the Peoria Blades, on the outdoor rink at Logan, in 1971. The Logan "bubble" went up the next year and the Blades, through membership in the Continental League, gave Peoria a solid taste of hockey.
BardezBanian played with the Blades for a few years, then became president while Olson always served as the team's general manager.
And the two gave hockey a boost whenever they could. BardezBanian coached the Bradley University club team for many years and both were instrumental in starting and maintaining youth hockey in Pekin and Peoria.
Both are now retired, Olson from Caterpillar's Mossville plant and BardezBanian from a management position with the City of Peoria.