BASKETBALL 1966/67 –1968/69

    Mark Stephenson, a 1969 graduate of Taylorville High School, is one of only three plays from the Tornadoes’ boys’ basketball team to receive a scholarship to play basketball at a Division I University Program since 1950.

    Beginning his basketball-playing career at St. Mary’s Elementary School under the coaching guidance of Hall of Famer Mike Homa and John Kennedy, Stephenson, established an offensive dominance that would continue throughout his Taylorville basketball career. As an eighth grader, he set the Midget’s single game scoring record, hitting for 37 points.

    During his freshman season at Taylorville Junior High School, Stephenson again set a new individual scoring mark with a 40-point outburst against St. Teresa.

    As a sophomore, playing for Coach Jack Murphy, Stephenson became an immediate impact player leading the varsity Tornadoes in scoring with an average of 15.5 points a game and a season total of 433 points. He also led the team in rebounds and assists. His post season honors that year included a selection to the All Mid-state Conference First Team and receiving an All State Honorable Mention award.

    Beginning his second season as a starting forward, Stephenson not only led the team in rebounds, assists and scoring with an 18.9 point average and 453 point on the season, but in the process tied the single game scoring record with 39 points in a game against Litchfield. He was again selected to the All Mid-State Conference first team and the Decatur Herald All Area Team. Stephenson received recognition as Special Mention to the All State Team and was selected as one of the top 100 juniors in the USA.

    As a senior, team honors followed Stephenson’s individual successes, as the Tornadoes ended the season with a 19 – 9 record and a Mid State Conference Championship. Under the guidance of first year coach Don Williams, Taylorville also won the IHSA Regional Tournament only to lose to Lincoln in the first round of sectional play. Selected as team captain, Mark Stephenson contributions to this successful season included leading the team in rebounds, assists and scoring for the third consecutive year and finishing with a career total of 1261 points, second all time in Tornadoes history.

    Post season honors included a third consecutive selection to the All Mid-State Conference first team, being picked to the Decatur Herald All Area Team for the second year, and earning the Illinois Prep Magazine All-State Team honors.

    After graduating, the University of New Mexico offered Stephenson a scholarship to attend school and play basketball for the Lobos. He was the first recipient of a Division I basketball scholarship at Taylorville High School since Bill Ridley’s award in 1952. He transferred in 1971 to Southern Illinois University, playing for the Salukis until he graduated in 1974.