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Monday, March 15, 2010

Your Canton Fieldhouse Memories....go!

I know we've played at the Canton Fieldhouse on a yearly basis since 1996, so it's not like we've been totally absent, but this Wednesday will be a different feel....and not just because the tickets will be more expensive (remember when they used to be reserved?  Your ticket had a section, row & seat number.)

The Riders are back in regionals, and what a perfect time to talk about all the great memories we've had there over the years.  I'll share mine, and that you share yours too.

It's no secret....I love the fieldhouse.  If there's a better venue for basketball in Northeast Ohio (maybe the entire state), I sure haven't seen it.  The Fieldhouse has an echo to it, unlike any other basketball gym I've ever been in.  I like to think it's the echoes of generations past (corny right? But it's true).  Of teams, players, coaches and fans from bygone eras.  All one needs to do is look up toward the rafters and see the banners from old Lehman High and from the great McKinley teams to get a sense of the history that was made on the court below.  Walk the halls for a who's who of Canton basketball and pictures from the old All-City nights.

I can still smell the smoke that used to fill the concourses during halftime.  Still hard to believe that you used to be able to smoke INDOORS.

Give me a seat in the corner, and a box of popcorn, and it doesn't get much better.

I vaugely remember my first game there.  I believe it was in March of 1986 when Orrville lost to Hawken in a Class AA regional semifinal.  The Hawks were undefeated and state ranked and we lost by 1 point.  I remember a missed dunk (by Keith Denson, I think) that turned out to be the difference.

I missed out on the Orrville/St. V showdown a year earlier, a game that the Riders would win for the district (not regional) title.  The game featured a showdown between the Irish's All-American Jerome Lane and Orrville's Tom Bolyard.  The Beacon Journal reported that 4400+ fans were in attendance which basically means a sellout.

My most fond memories of Fieldhouse games were in our runs during the 90's....and at the top of the list is the 1992 win over St. V.  I don't need to rehash it, but many would call that the greatest Orrville win ever.  It propelled us to our first state title, and was the typical "parochial roadblock" game that took overtime to secure the win.  I still curse the name Clint Smith when I think of that game.  That was still one of the most clutch 3's I've ever seen, and it again seemed like the Riders would be denied. I remember looking up in the stands and finding my dad, we both had that look of "what do we have to do," as I'm sure most Orrville fans had.  Thank goodness we prevailed in overtime.

The next year, we advanced to regionals again, to the surprise of many and took on Cleveland Central Catholic (yes, the very same team) who boasted a diminutive point guard by the name of Earl Boykins.  The Riders would prevail behind senior leadership of Sly Slaughter and Jermaine DeHart.  They also had a freshman named Marcell Denson.

I remember the 1995 district title game against Norwayne that was moved from Wooster High School.  It was nip and tuck the whole way, but Renauld Ray took over in the 4th and sent the Riders on to regionals.  We'd win 2 more at the Fieldhouse the following week and win our 2nd state title that year.

It was always cool to see TV cameras at the game, usually Channel 23 out of Akron.  Seeing highlights of the game you just attended never got old.  Sports Reporter Phil Ferguson was the best. 

The memories over the last several years haven't been as good (11-11 in the Canton district since 1999), but we've still had some memorable moments. 

Most notably, the win over undefeated and #1 ranked Northwest (had to be in 1997 or 1998) in the first round, and the district semifinal win over Triway in 2004.

I'm sure there are plenty of other games I'm leaving out.  We've gotten used to leaving that building after a loss in the past decade....but it will never take the glow off the wonderful performances we've seen there over the years.

Please share your memories in the comments section.  I know there are plenty of eyes out there that have seen much more than I have.  So let's hear it....and it doesn't necessarily have to be an Orrville-centric memory. If you're landing here as a fan of another school, I'd still love to hear about your memories. I've seen Berlin Hiland play there plenty of times, and I'm sure our friends in Triway purple could write a few stories...ones that Orrville fans may not like.


Cara said...

I have such fond memories of the Fieldhouse games growing up - especially in the 90's. That '92 OT game vs St V was something I'll never forget. The crowd after the game while the nets were being cut down was still huge - as if no one wanted to leave and let that moment pass. In '95 I still can hear the chant "Bunk, Bunk, we wanna dunk!". Just the walk in passed the natatorium brings back memories of waiting in line to get in, all excited and seeing the swim finals going on next door.

Red Rider Sports Blog (Tim Snyder) said...

I remember the whole student body in wore black for that game. I had to go buy a black t-shirt. Interesting you mention the swim finals....its always a shock when you come up on the parking lot to find both lots full....thinking the game is a sellout, but it's just a swim meet next door. Nothing beats entering the Fieldhouse...except leaving after a win.

AV OHS '93 said...

As far as the '93 Regional-Semi, Coach Slaughter shut down Mr. Boykins and lived up to what Orrville Red Rider defense is all about - hustle, passion, teamwork, sacrifice and desire. It was also the coming of age for Marcell who became a man that game (in addition to Sly and Jermaine, don't forget the other OHS senior starter that year! :)

Outside of the '92 and '93 teams, of which I was fortunate to be a part, my favorite memory was the '85 game against St. V-M. Lane's quote about Bolyard in the ABJ the next day was priceless. Tom shut down Lane (blocking a dunk from what I remember) and the Riders won a wild one. I was fortunate to be sitting behind the bench filling water bottles. Between Bolyard, Skeebo Simms, James Bradley, Keith Denson and others on that team, it was a "watershed" moment for my generation of future Rider basketball players watching their success.

POTTSY said...

I remember going with my dad on a saturday an watching A-AA AAA games all day long. I ran all over that place poping cups on the floor, you could get a real good echo ! LOL