Shots in the Darke
Hats off to the Tri-Village Patriots on a great season that unfortunately came up one win short of a state championship. Layne Sarver and teammates put up a valiant fight against a physically imposing (even without West Virginia recruit Josiah Harris in uniform) Richmond Heights squad in losing Sunday by a 50-29 count. The Spartans, with two transfer students and two of the top freshmen in the state, pressured the Pats out front and dominated the boards in winning their first D-IV title in their third consecutive trip to the Final Four. Josh Sagester’s crew made all of Darke County proud and things look bright for the future as three starters return along with WOAC championship teams in both the seventh and eighth grade.
What a great location to host the state championship weekend! UD Arena is the perfect size and the accommodations and amenities make for a memorable visit for all participating teams and their fans. I was fortunate to experience the Flyer Flight Deck (free food and a great view!) on a guest pass from the OHSAA for the first game on Saturday and had great seats for the other three games I attended over the weekend.
Defending champion Centerville saw its 45-game winning streak come to a grinding halt Sunday night, losing to Pickerington Central in the D-I title game; meanwhile, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (LeBron’s alma mater and basically an AAU All-Star team) won the D-II crown and Cincinnati Taft outlasted Ottawa-Glandorf in claiming D-III honors. Here’s a trivia question for you—what school holds the state record for the most consecutive victories?
OHSAA always provides a great program for tournament weekend, chock full of history and pertinent information. In browsing through it three local high school legends are listed; Dave Gray of Arcanum still holds the small school tournament record after scoring 45 points in the Trojans’ ‘69 semifinal win over Portsmouth Clay on their way to the Class A title. Dave also pulled down 21 rebounds in the victory, quite a day’s work! In ‘56, the late Ron Puterbaugh led the Trojans to a state Class B championship scoring 31 points in the title game against Columbus St. Marys. And during the ‘67 season Dan Franz of Franklin-Monroe set a state record with 43 rebounds in a game against Covington.
How are your NCAA brackets looking after the first two rounds? If they are anything like mine, they are shredded beyond repair, just barely hanging on although I still have Arizona, Gonzaga, and Purdue alive on the road to my Final Four. Good grief, the Big Ten suffered a Sunday Massacre with first Illinois losing, soon to be followed in the loss column by Ohio State, Michigan State, and Wisconsin. Add in earlier departures by Iowa, Rutgers, and Indiana and the vaunted conference, for the second consecutive year, has proven to be over-hyped. Thank goodness for Purdue and Michigan (also the Indiana cheerleaders for their “shining moment” in retrieving a ball stuck on top of the backboard!) in keeping some sense of honor for Big Ten fans!
Major League Baseball (baseball!) finally got its act together is reaching a new five year agreement with the Players Association. The DH is now a permanent part of the National League; the “ghost runner” at second base to start extra innings is a thing of the past (good riddance); and doubleheaders are back to nine inning games like ol’ Abner Doubleday intended.
The Reds continue to shed payroll and disillusion their fans. It will take a faithful Darke County fan to make the two-hour trip down to the River, with $4 gas and inflated ticket, parking, and refreshment prices to see the product the Reds put on the field this year. We can only hope that the few remaining starters and an influx of prospects and free agents will make the team at least competitive! You’ve probably noticed that there has been little, if any, coverage of spring training, a combination of frustration and basketball tournaments!
Finally, Kathy and I along with three good friends, attended the first two NCAA games in Indianapolis Thursday, watching first Michigan and then Tennessee claim wins. On the way back we stopped in Centerville, IN at the Five Arches Brewing Company for supper; would highly recommend it!
The answer to the trivia question above? The legendary Paul Walker led Middletown’s Middies to 76 consecutive wins from ‘56 through ‘58. Ohio schoolboy legend Jerry Lucas (who still holds many tournament records, including scoring 53 points as a sophomore in a semifinal win over Cleveland East Tech) paced the team to back-to-back titles in ‘56 and ‘57. The streak came to a halt in the ‘58 semifinal as the Middies fell to Columbus North 63-62!! Until next time, get out and enjoy Spring!