Hall of Fame Inductee - Terry Laaker
It wasn’t a buzzer-beater, a half-court or the type of shot that leaves fans mumbling about it as they walk to their cars on a wintry night. But the basket Terry Laaker made in the fourth quarter of the 1974 sectional championship against Decatur Eisenhower is one legendary QHS coach Sherrill Hanks always talked about as a game-changing moment.
The Blue Devils led 64-58 two minutes into the fourth quarter, Laaker stole a pass at midcourt and converted an uncontested layup that led to an 84-76 victory.
It was one of the highlights of what turned out to be a solid career for Laaker, who graduated from QHS in 1975 and earned a scholarship to play basketball at Bradley.Laaker led the Blue Devils in scoring during the 1974-75 season, averaging 16.7 points and helping QHS earn a spot in the regional championship game in Hanks’ final season as head coach. It was his play in the final minutes of the regional semifinal, though, that stood out. Quincy trailed Springfield Griffin 53-48 before Laaker scored nine points in the final 2:45 and leading the Blue Devils to a 60-55 victory.
Laaker was named the team MVP in 1975 before going on to play four years at Bradley.
Laaker and his wife, Linda, live in Pekin, Ill., and have one daughter.
In acceptance ...
As a Quincy Blue Devil Basketball player, when you lace up your basketball shoes, click your heels together three times, and say “There’s No Place Like Home,” you end up at center court of the Quincy High School gymnasium. It was such a privilege to wear the Blue Devil uniform and play for a community where the fan support was the heart and soul of my desire to play. The dedication of the coaches, school administration, and volunteers was important to the development of my life as an athlete, student, and person.
This program enriched my life in so many ways. It allowed me to play against the top talent in the state of Illinois, as well as learn from the leadership of the upper classmen of the Blue Devil Basketball program. It, also, gave me the wonderful opportunity to play on a basketball scholarship at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. At Bradley, I was allowed to further my education and continue to follow the character values that I was taught and raised with in Quincy, as well as play against the top teams and players in the nation. Additionally, playing at Bradley allowed me to meet “The Love Of My Life”: my wife, Linda. She works with athletes daily, and she is one of our nation’s top power tumbling coaches for USA Gymnastics. She and I often speak to her tumblers of the work ethic it takes to become a high-level athlete. This work ethic was taught to me, witnessed by her, and appreciated by both of us through our experiences with the Blue Devil Basketball program.
A very special thank you must be given to my head coach, Sherrill Hanks. He is responsible for developing me not only as a player and a student, but also as a person. I could write so much about this man, but his records speak for themselves. I thank the Lord for being in the right place at the right time to play for Coach Hanks. To experience his drive for commitment, dedication, and excellence has forever enhanced my life. Lastly, and most importantly, I must give thanks to my father, for he initially exposed me to this program. It was his encouragement of my involvement in and enthusiasm for the Blue Devil Basketball program that often fueled my desire to play. I wish to dedicate this award to my father, Russell William Laaker. He was a Blue Devil Basketball fan before I played, during my playing days, and for the remainder of his years after my playing days were long over. His love, support, and teachings will live with me forever. With that being said, and after being back at center court of the Quincy High School Blue Devil gymnasium … “There’s STILL No Place Like Home”!!!
I Proudly Accept this Induction and Thank the Hall of Fame Committee for this Honor.
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