Updated: Jul 5, 2021
By Emily DuGranrut
Published May 12, 2021 in The Burg
In the last few months, I have had several requests from patrons for more information about a 1957 Galesburg High School basketball game. Since I am not from the Galesburg area, I didn’t understand what was so special about this particular game. I decided to dig into the archives to get some more information.
The 1956-57 Galesburg High School boys basketball team was good—very good. The team came to be known as the “Miracle Makers” and the game “The Miracle in Moline.” But before all that, the odds seemed to be against them. Articles in the Galesburg Register-Mail leading up to the playoffs frequently called them the underdogs, and favored their opponents to win in almost every game. Despite a winning streak, this narrative continued as the Silver Streaks headed to Moline for the sectional game against the Rock Island Rocks.
The Rocks had beaten Galesburg twice during regular season play, so it’s safe to assume they were pretty confident going into the game. They were bigger: the Streaks had some tall players, but were small compared to the Rocks. In fact, at the beginning of the third period things weren’t looking good—the Rocks were ahead 13-8. But GHS Coach John Thiel had a strategy to keep the Rock Island players on their toes.
“It was a game about fundamentals,” Bobby Hoffman, a player on the team, would later tell the Register-Mail. “Rock Island had such a tall team... They weren’t quick enough to stay with us and Coach Thiel knew we could do it.”
“We knew Galesburg was going to use ball control on us, it was their only chance to win, but we just couldn’t handle it tonight,” said Rock Island Coach Bob Riley. The game is commonly known in Galesburg as the “stall game” because of the low score: Galesburg beat Rock Island by just two points, 23-21.
The team reunited at a GHS game in 2013 to reminisce about their historic win. Players from across the country returned to Galesburg. Al “Noachie” Williams came all the way from Las Vegas. He told the Register-Mail that he remembers playing against the Rock Island team, which included a future NBA star and coach—Don Nelson.
The Streaks would finish the season with a 23-7 record and make the trip to the Elite 8 in the state playoffs.
The Galesburg Public Library has a recording of the GHS vs. Rock Island game on DVD
available for checkout, if you would like to relive the game. We also have the Register-Mail articles from that time period on microfilm. If you would like to read about the season leading up to this historic game, or the Streaks journey after, schedule an appointment today by calling us
at 309-343-6118 or emailing email@example.com.