Schilling signs with Augustana: The end of the Schilling era at EllsworthELLSWORTH — Clayton Schilling looked around Ellsworth’s gym Thursday and a smile could not be hidden behind his lips as he began talking about what his family had put into the place his three sons flourished.
ELLSWORTH — Clayton Schilling looked around Ellsworth’s gym Thursday and a smile could not be hidden behind his lips as he began talking about what his family had put into the place his three sons flourished.
“It’s been fun,” Schilling said, as he looked around the Panthers’ home floor.
The new bleachers, the Panther paws on the wall and the gym floor all have Schilling money in them.
The Ellsworth banners listing athletic accomplishments hang because Clayton’s sons — Curt, Cody and Casey — gave everything they had to the Panthers.
It does not say Schilling anywhere in the gym, but the name is all over everything in the home of the Panthers basketball team.
On Thursday, Casey Schilling signed his name to play basketball at Augustana College, putting the finishing touches on the Schilling era at Ellsworth, which dates back over a decade.
It all began with Curt.
The Panthers won 11 games combined in Curt’s eighth-grade and freshman seasons with Ellsworth. Then the Panthers won 20 games in 2002 and headed to state for the first time in any sport in 2003 with a runner-up finish. The Panthers took second in the state in 2006, won state championships in 2007 and 2008, took second place in 2009 and took third place in 2010 with a Schilling or two on every single squad.
“This is my first year, but just from the talk around town, the Schillings are a big part of this community and a big part of the school’s success,” EHS basketball coach J.D. Roberts said. “Without the Schillings, this school probably wouldn’t be as successful at athletics as it has been in the past eight years or so.”
Thursday was not about the Schilling era coming to an end, but Casey Schilling’s basketball career moving on. As most athletic stories go, Casey’s began with dad.
“Whenever I could start picking up a basketball was probably the first time I picked up a basketball,” Casey said. “I was in second grade when I first played in a game.
“Me and my best friend Travis Kvalle were ball boys for my brother’s fifth and sixth grade team and my dad was the coach. He would let us suit because they only had six guys.”
It was a few minutes as a youngster which paved Casey’s road and has brought him to Augustana.
“If they ever needed another guy, I would go in there just as a second-grade kid,” Casey said. “I think I played a minute or two and scored one time, but I loved every moment of it.”
Although Casey will follow in Cody’s footsteps at Augustana, he is hoping to create his own path. Being the brother of the all-time leading scorer in Augustana history isn’t exactly easy.
“I’ve been around Auggie for so long with my brother being there and I just fell in love with it,” Casey said. “They’re one of the top contenders every year, so I wanted to go somewhere where we could go do something.
“I never really wanted to follow Cody, but that’s just the way it happened. I think we’re similar players, but don’t think we’re the exact type of player. I hope I can have half the accomplishments Cody had.”
Earning all-conference and all-area awards four times and all-state accolades twice, while averaging 22.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and five assists per game in his senior season and 24 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game his junior season, Casey would stand out no matter what last name he had.
“He’s the type of player every coach dreams of,” Roberts said. “Every time he stepped on the floor I thought we had a chance to win.
“Obviously, he’ll be young and starting over, but as he progresses he will definitely be qualified to lead a collegiate team.”
Based on Clayton’s response to being asked if he’ll miss Panther games featuring his sons, a Schilling could be making a return to the Ellsworth basketball court in the future.
“What about grandkids?” Clayton said with a smile.
Daily Globe Sports Editor Chris Murphy can be reached at 376-7328.