(1-1-22) A basketball team’s run for the state championship is legend in Cobden, a small farming town known for its orchards in Southwestern Illinois. A commemorative sign in Cobden proudly declares it is Home of the Amazing “Appleknockers”.

While those memories will last a lifetime, the historic and unique looking gym. including a stage at one end and a high dome-like roof…. will soon be gone and replaced by a new modern facility. The Cobden gym has its own personality…just as much as the Hoosier Gym in located in Knightstown, Indiana.

In August, just before the start of the school year, the gym that was built in 1955, was condemned due to structural damage and left the boys basketball teams homeless for this season.

Edwin Shoemate, superintendent of the Cobden School District

“Found there was a 10-inch deflection in one of the walls, and also some deterioration of our supporting beams of the roof.”

Cobden boys basketball coach Wendell Wheeler told The Southern Illinoisan

“The new gym will be built right on the site of the gym now. At a small school, the gym is the community hub. The old gym made the community proud for over 70 years. There is so much history in that gym we’re losing and we’re the caretakers of all that history, so we need to handle this transition the best that we can.”

Funding in part for the new gym will come from emergency funding being secured by the school district from the state of Illinois.

The final season at the old gym will be long remembered…the Appleknockers were ranked No. 1 (1A) in the final AP poll after going 19-0 in the shortened pandemic season. Since the IHSA did not hold a state tournament, many consider that #1 ranking a mythical Illinois state title. Of those 19 wins…it included 16 wins in the season’s final 23 days, including three in one 24-hour stretch.

No one knew that the final game and final season was happening…that makes it a sad good-bye for Cobden fans, with no opportunity to celebrate the history the old gym gave over the years..

What is an Appleknocker?

Former Cobden Mayor Frank Petty once said that the mascot’s name dates back to at least the 1940s before Cobden had a gymnasium. The team had made it all the way to the sectional tournament at DuQuoin, Ill. When they won, someone was heard to say –

‘Whoever heard of a bunch of Appleknockers winning such a thing?'”

Other historic high school gyms –