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McHistory: The 1914 McLean County Basketball Champions

Basketball team photo
McLean County Museum of History
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The Bellflower Township High School basketball team of 1914.

The McLean County Basketball Tournament is one of the longest running basketball tournaments in the state of Illinois.

During this episode of McHistory, you'll hear about the 1914 championship team from Bellflower Township, and two brothers from the well-known Ward Family who were a major piece.

Jesse Robert Ward was born enslaved, and when he gained his freedom he became a tenant farmer in Bellflower. He and his wife, Mary, would have 12 children, with two of the brothers would becoming vital pieces for the championship team. The Bellflower team would go on to defeat all the surrounding high schools in McLean County with the help of Jesse Ward Jr. and Joe Ward.

This episode of McHistory was produced by WGLT’s Ariele Jones, featuring Bill Kemp and Norris Porter of the McLean County Museum of History.

People like you value experienced, knowledgeable and award-winning journalism that covers meaningful stories in Bloomington-Normal. To support more stories and interviews like this one, please consider making a contribution.

Ariele Jones is currently the host of Morning Edition; Center Stage, a show focusing on the music of Broadway and Hollywood; and Highway 309.