Granite City
PRESS-RECORD

Manoyan chronicles 1940 state champions

By Theo Tate Saturday, January 5, 2008 12:15 PM CST

The Granite City Warriors boys basketball team captured its first and
only state championship in 1940.

It was a team that had players who grew up in the Lincoln Place
neighborhood in Granite City and bounced back from a loss to Wood
River in the regional championship to win the state title at the
University of Illinois.

"This was a really good story that should have been told a long time
ago," said Dan Manoyan, who is a sports writer at the Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel. "I hope it's going to be made into a movie
someday. We're all hopeful of it."Manoyan is the author of the book,
"Men of Granite," which told the story about the 1940 state
champions. The book was published last month and numerous copies were
sold during the Granite City boys basketball team's games against
Mater Dei on Nov. 19 and Sumner on Nov. 21.

"I'm proud of it, but I wished I could have done it 10 or 15 years ago
when all of these guys are still alive," Manoyan said. "There only
three survivors from the team. It would have been a lot more
comprehensive and a better book had I done it 10 years ago. I think
it's still pretty good."

Two of the survivors on the team, Andy Hagopian and John Markarian,
joined Manoyan at a book signing last week at Krieger's Sports Bar and
Grill in Granite City.

Both Hagopian and Markarian were juniors on the 1940 Granite City boys
basketball team. Hagopian was the Warriors' second-leading scorer on
the team at the state tournament with 30 points in four
games. Markarian was one of the bench players.

"I think Dan did a fantastic job (on the book)," Hagopian said.

Manoyan said Hagopian was pretty helpful in giving him information
about the team.

"Andy had a really good scrapbook that helped quite a bit," Manoyan
said. "Of course, he was the primary source of the book because he
played with the team and started all year. Basically, half of the book
was from Andy's memory."

Manoyan also got help from Babe Champion and Gus Lignoul, who
graduated from Granite City in 1951 and 1946, respectively.

"Babe Champion and Gus Lignoul went through the microfilm for the
Granite City Press-Record and they got all of the stories from that
year (1940)," Manoyan said.

There are 24 chapters in the book, plus statistics from the state
tournament. One of Manoyan's favorite chapters in the book was chapter
two, which told the story about Markarian and his family.

"I think the first two paragraphs were what I liked," Markarian
said. "I think he did a great job writing up the first two
paragraphs."

Andy Phillip, another member of the Granite City boys basketball team,
was the leading scorer of the 1940 state tournament with 53 points. He
went on to play college basketball at the University of Illinois and
had an 11-year career with the NBA. Phillip died in 2001.

"One of the things that I'm regretful in my life is I never saw him
play," said Corky Phillip, who is Andy's widow.

George Gages, Evon Parsaghian, Dan Eftimoff, Ebbie Mueller, Everett
Daniels, Sam Mouradian and Ed Hoff were the other members on the
Granite City squad that finished with a 29-5 record and beat Herrin
24-22 in the state championship game. Byron Bozarth was the head
coach.

"It's a pretty good story," Manoyan said. "The hardest part about
writing a book is finding a good story here. I always wanted to write
a book, but never had a good story."

Corky Phillip, who was in attendance at the book signing last week at
Krieger's, said she was pleased with Manoyan's project.

"I read the draft copy and I couldn't put it down," she said. "I kept
reading and reading. This is a great thing for Granite City. It gives
them another lift."

Manoyan covers the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's basketball
team for the Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel, where he has worked for the
last 15 years. He's a native of Waukegan and a graduate of the
University of Illinois.

"I had people from Milwaukee asking me why are you doing a story about
something that happened in Illinois," Manoyan said. "I said I don't
think anything like this ever happened in Wisconsin."

Manoyan said he came up with the idea of "Men of Granite" while
visiting the St. Louis area.

"I was leaving St. Louis one time and I saw the sign for Granite City
and drove over and I saw the steel mills," Manoyan said. "I thought
there might be a story there. When I got home, I went to the IHSA site
and got the names of all of the guys who were on that team in 1940 and
I did a people search for Granite City and I came up with two guys,
Andy Hagopian and John Markarian, and their phone numbers. I talked to
them on the phone and I asked Andy do you think there's enough here to
do a book?"

So in the spring of 2006, Manoyan started his project.

"I talked to them (Hagopian and Markarian) over at the Armenian Church
and spent the day with them," Manoyan said. "There was a lot
there. It's a pretty compelling story on how these guys changed
Granite City around. All five starters were immigrants and
first-generation Americans. They weren't accepted here in town, but
after they won the state championship, they sure were. I think they
made life better for everybody in this town."

To order a copy of the book, call Champion at 451-1212 or Lignoul at
452-3339 or e-mail Champion at [email protected]

E-mail: [email protected]

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