Skip to main content

Second-year coaches lead Hillsboro, MHS

Bob Patton-
As the 1967-68 basketball season got under way, Coach Paul Hager returned for his second year at McClain and Vernon Hooper returned for his second year at Hillsboro.
    Hager’s Tigers had lost three all-league players to graduation:
Jim Kensinger, Jim Taylor and Sam Daugherty. But he still had ace scorer Bob Bristley, Steve Seig, Larry Stricker, Rick Smith and Everett “Butch” Walker.
    Miami Trace returned both of their starting guards from a year
ago, Eddie Summers and Bob Thornsberry. They would be tough to beat. Wilmington would build their team around 6’4” center John Petty. The Hurricane would not be an easy win, either.
    Hillsboro would have David Marshall, John Jones, Mike Moses and several others up from the reserve team.
    The McClain varsity cheerleaders were Darlene and Marlene Wilson, Sandy Collins, Anita Gillespie, Margaret Narcross and Terry Ralston.
    McClain traveled to Portsmouth to take on the Trojans for their opening game of the season. The Tigers played the Trojans very tough. McClain led by one at halftime, 35-34. The two teams were tied at 52-all at the third quarter mark. But the Trojans had the ball last, and, with only two seconds remaining, one of the Portsmouth players hit an outside shot to win the game, 74-72. Bristley racked up 21 points for the Tigers, while Seig had 20.
    The next week, the Tigers blew Washington C.H. away, 96-49, then journeyed to Bexley on Saturday, where Bristley scored 35 points
and the Tigers squeaked out a 78-76 win over the hosts.
    The following weekend, the rampaging Tigers racked up two more wins, downing Hillsboro, 68-58, Friday night, at Hillsboro, then beating visiting Columbus Mohawk, 77-65 on Saturday. Seig and Bristley led the Tigers against Hillsboro, scoring 20 and 19, respectively. Marshall, Walker and Moses were all in double figures for Hillsboro, but it was not enough. Seig came back against Mohawk with 29 points.
    McClain, at this point in the season, was playing great basketball. They had size, experience and several exceptional shooters and playmakers. The Tigers and Wilmington were at the top of the heap in the SCOL, with two league wins and no losses. Wilmington had invaded the Miami Trace gym and pummeled the Panthers, 74-56, to push the losers out of a first place tie.
    But the big game was just around the corner. On Dec. 15, McClain would match up against the Hurricane on the Wilmington
hardwood. The following night, the Tigers would entertain Goshen in the McClain gym.
    Seig, Bristley and Stricker combined to score 44 points, which
was enough to beat the Hurricane, 58-53. Petty racked up 23 for the
Hurricane, but did not get enough help from his teammates to overcome the McClain barrage.
    The same night saw the Hillsboro Indians rise up to wallop the Blue Lions of Washington 83-67. Also, Miami Trace doubled the score on winless Circleville, 82-41. The Tigers took the measure of visiting Goshen, 80-52.
    Before the break for the holidays, McClain took an 83-67 decision over Scioto Northwest and a 95-66 win over neighboring Fairfield. So, the Tigers went into the break with a league record of 3-0 and an overall mark of 8-1. At this point, they were the best team in this immediate area, without question. But, sometimes, strange things happen over a school break. Maybe players eat too much turkey. Perhaps it is just getting out of their usual routine. Whatever the cause, the McClain Tigers never quite regained the polish that they exhibited before the holiday break.
    On Jan. 5, the Miami Trace Panthers edged the Tigers, 69-68,
in the McClain gym. The Tigers outscored MT from the field by six
points, but in the final quarter, they hit only 6 of 15 free throws, while the Panthers hit 16 of 19. McClain shot only 36 percent from the field for the game and did not rebound well.
    Meanwhile, at the county seat, the Hillsboro Indians downed Circleville, 74-62. This defeat made the Tigers 0-4 in the SCOL and 0-9 overall. In other SCOL action, Wilmington pounded Washington C.H., 85-62.
    On Jan. 12, McClain went to Circleville to square off with a
team that was still struggling to win their first game of the season. Coach Hill slowed the game down, which was the only way his charges
had any chance whatsoever. McClain had to work for a win, but they finally prevailed. 42-35, as Bristley scored 15 points and Seig added 12. There was now a three-way tie for the league lead, with McClain, Miami Trace and Wilmington all sporting identical 4-1 SCOL marks. Hillsboro was 2-3, Washington was 1-4 while Circleville was 0-5 (0-11, counting non-league games).
    Over the next two weeks, McClain beat: Washington, 88-40, Hillsboro, 89-63, and Waverly, 85-75. In other games, Wilmington took a 75-66 win over Hillsboro, MT trounced WCH, 82-37, Wilmington edged Trace, 63-62, and Circleville lost its 14th consecutive contest, to Washington, 41-37.
    Wilmington’s narrow win over Miami Trace pushed the Panthers out of a three-way tie for first place in the SCOL. Now, McClain and
Wilmington stood atop the league with identical 6-1 marks and MT
followed with a 5-2 record.
    The tie wouldn’t last long, though. On Feb. 2, at
Greenfield, big John Petty notched 24 points in the first half, and
Wilmington downed the McClain Tigers, 81-74. This would leave
Wilmington all alone at the top of the SCOL heap.
    On Feb. 9, at Miami Trace, the Panthers racked up 29 points
in the final quarter to burn Coach Hager’s Tigers, 83-60. Also in
Highland County, Indians coach Vernon Hooper started an all-senior
lineup, which left his top scorer, Mike Moses, on the bench. Circleville jumped out to an early lead, which Hillsboro was never
able to overcome.
    McClain, who had started the season so well, and had appeared to
be the best in the league, had now dropped completely out of the
picture. Larry Stricker racked up a game high 33 points as the Tigers
beat Circleville, 90-72, in the final game of the regular season.
    The final league standings were:
Wilmington — 9-1, 13-4
Miami Trace — 8-2, 14-3
McClain — 7-3, 13-5
Washington — 3-7, 5-13
Hillsboro — 2-8, 6-12
Circleville —1-9, 1-17
    Hillsboro and McClain were scheduled to meet in the first
round of the sectional tournament (again) at Paint Valley. McClain outrebounded the Indians, 45-26, and won, 76-57, to advance into the finals, where they would meet SCOL counterpart Miami Trace.
    In the final game of the tourney, McClain held a three-point lead with 6 seconds remaining – and managed to lose the game. Trace passed the ball inbounds to little guard Eddie Summers, who dribbled directly into Tiger Larry Stricker. As the two players collided, Summers threw the ball into the air and it ended up in the basket. The goal was counted, and a “phantom” foul was called on Stricker, resulting in a three-point play. Trace outscored the Tigers 10-8 in the three-minute overtime and left Bainbridge with a 66 – 64 win and a sectional championship.
    The All-SCOL team included:
John Petty, WHS; Kim Ewing, WHS; Bob Bristley, MHS; Gordon Rulon, WHS; Steve Seig, MHS; Phil Bihl, MT; Bob Thornberry, MT; Ed Summers, MT; Mike Moses, HHS; David Marshall, HHS; Jeff Steele
CHS; Jerry Walker, HHS; Cliff Joslin, WCH.
    Bob Patton is a Highland County sports historian and a contributing writer to The Highland County Press.[[In-content Ad]]

Add new comment

This is not for publication.
This is not for publication.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
Article comments are not posted immediately to the Web site. Each submission must be approved by the Web site editor, who may edit content for appropriateness. There may be a delay of 24-48 hours for any submission while the web site editor reviews and approves it. Note: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number and email address is for our use only, and will not be attached to your comment.