77 years later, a rivalry renewed


 

The Eureka College men’s basketball team will renew a storied rivalry after a 77 year hiatus when they travel down US Route 24 to play the Bradley Braves on December 18. The game against the NCAA Division I Braves will be the second Division I foe on their schedule after playing at Eastern Illinois on November 17. Their non-conference schedule also includes a trip to North Park University and hosting Rockford College.

Separated by just 22 miles, Bradley and Eureka once were local rivals in the Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference from 1910-37 (Eureka remained in the league through 1942) and the series dates to 1905. Eureka will enter the December contest winning 6 of their last 8 games between the two schools, including a 43-42 thriller on February 28, 1936 at the Peoria Armory. That win capped a six game winning streak over Bradley from 1934-1936.

“Anytime you can renew these historic rivalries, it is a huge benefit to both schools, amplifying the excitement for current student athletes and rekindling old flames for alumni.” Steve Thompson, Director of Athletics stated. “Legendary coach Ralph McKinzie was on our sidelines during that time. McKinzie, known for coaching football and player Ronald Reagan, won 121 games as the basketball coach of Eureka College, and is the third longest tenured basketball coach behind fellow Hall of Fame coaches Dave Darnall and Leo “Doc” Traister.”

“We want to thank both Bradley’s Coach Geno Ford and Director of Athletics Michael Cross for giving us the opportunity to rekindle this historic match up. Enough cannot be said about their work, along with Coach Wilde in making this game happen,” Thompson continued. “It will be a great opportunity for the student-athletes involved.”

Eureka’s 2014-2015 non-conference schedule features four road games and two home games. The entire 2014-2015 schedule will be released later this week.