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Sunday, March 11, 2012

History Lesson: Orrville's Twelve District Basketball Titles

Thought it might be fun, on the heels of another district title to revisit each.  I'm relying heavily on others memory for the ones in the early to late 80's.  Thanks to the OhioChatter gang of Orrville posters (they know who they are) for helping out with this.

Before I get to the detail of each, I think it's pretty impressive that we can boast 12 district titles and 5 regional titles, in addition to our state runner-up finish in 2010 and our 3 state titles in 1992, 1995 & 1996.  And that's just boys basketball.  I sure hope when this new gym gets built there's a plan to have banners for each sport like they do in Wooster.

It would be neat to have a banner per sport, like this...and then a banner (or two) listing all the team state championships we've this. With a new gym, it's the perfect "blank template" to do this right.  Keeping them in the gym also keeps them out of the elements, so they'll age well.

If I'm getting greedy, I'd love to see the state title banners lit at all times, even when the gym is dark and not in use.  Like this. Sort of gives an "aura" of greatness.

Ok, enough dreaming (I haven't done that in a while so you'll have to forgive me).  On to the district titles...

1979-80: This was the first ever district title (and trip to the state final four) for an Orrville basketball team.  Riders went 16-4 in the regular season, beat Hoban and Akron South in sectional, beat Canton CC 74-42 and Fairless 69-58 in 2 overtimes to capture the district title.  They beat Chagrin Falls (17-6) 59-57 and undefeated Warren JFK 73-71 in regionals to punch their ticket to Columbus.  They lost to Hamilton Ross (24-2) in state semifinals 67-57. Ross then beat Portsmouth 45-44 in finals.

1980-81: Went 16-4 in the regular season.  Beat Canton CC and Woodridge in sectionals, beat Coventry 77-57 and Northwest 55-45 in to capture a 2nd district title in as many years.  Lost to Warren JFK (22-2) 48-45 in the regional semifinals.

1984-85: Went 19-1 in the regular season, then beat Loudonville and Copley in Canton Class AA sectionals, beat St.Thomas Aquinas in the district semifinals 72-56 and then the most memorable game to date, beat defending state champ St.Vincent-St.Mary on St. Patricks Day in the district finals.  This was the famed Tom Bolyard vs Jerome Lane (this Jerome Lane) game that prompted Lane to say afterwards that he had never seen a white athlete with as much athletic ability as Bolyard had.  It was a huge compliment coming from someone as athletic as Lane was.

Anyway, the final was 54-50 in favor of the Riders, a game that Orrville's Skibo Sims had the game of his career.  The Riders couldn't keep the mojo rolling & regional semifinals to Youngstown Rayen 72-51 on a cold shooting night. The loss to Rayen also snapped a 21-game winning streak stopped by Rayen, who would go on to win state the following weekend.   It would be Bolyard's final season as a Red Rider, but he would return to the Canton Fieldhouse after the season to win a slam dunk competition at the North-South All-Star game.  It capped a season where he was named MVP of the All-Ohio League and named first-team All-Ohio by both the AP & UPI.

1985-86: The Riders lost game 1 of the 85-86 season to Wadsworth, 57-56, then won the next 23 in a row, winning another Canton district title (beat Loudonville 84-24, Norwayne 71-61, Coventry 62-61 & then Akron Hoban, 49-42 in the finals).  In the regional semifinals the 23-game win streak ended with a loss to Gates Mills Hawken 45-44. Both losses that season were by 1 point.

(This was one of my earliest memories of Orrville tournament basketball.  I remember being a heartbroken 8-year old that MY Red Riders had lost.  I guess things haven't changed that much over the years.)

1988-89: This was just the 2nd year of the 4 division format. Only had 18 regular season games, but won all 18, including a 119-75 win over Rittman, still the highest scoring game by any Red Rider team.  We were in D-II and played at the Fieldhouse sectional with wins over Louisville 81-33 and Northwest 61-36. In districts we had wins over Marlington, 63-46 and a district title win over Canton South 61-57. Our only loss of the season came in the Regional semifinals against Dover at the Canton Civic Center, 66-52.  We shot horribly that night.  Current assistant coaches Jason Haley and Rocky Smith were on that team, and Kevin Summers was a freshman on that team & saw time late in the game.

1991-92: The Riders entered the district in Smithville with a 19-1 record, and waltzed their way through districts, beating Tuslaw 73-54 in the finals and advancing to the Division 3 regional in Canton.  They would advance to the regional finals where they would encounter an old foe, the St. Vincent-St. Mary Fighting Irish.  The Irish had ended the season for the Red Riders in both 1990 and 1991.  Both of those Orrville teams were 19-1 heading into tournament play, and probably had Final Four potential, but the Irish proved too tall a task each time.  With St. V. moved out of the Smithville district, it pushed back the annual Orrville/St. V matchup to regionals.  The Riders finally toppled the mighty Irish 74-70 in overtime..a game many Orrville consider one of the greatest ever.  Senior standout Kevin Summers had 32 points in that game. It was the proverbial "hump" win over a private school that propelled the Riders to Columbus on a wave of momentum.

From there, Orrville only needed to beat Sparta Highland (led by 7'2" Division 3 Player of the Year Jason Terry), which they did 68-55...and then capped a state title season by defeating Patrick Henry 78-65.

1992-93: This was supposed to be the year that the Riders came back down off the mountain.  After losing Kevin Summers, Anthony Durden, Dee Simpson and others from the 27-1 state title team, not many thought the Riders would be in a position to be back in Columbus...but they almost did.  First up was defending their district title, and they did that, beating Rittman 69-57.  They advanced to the regionals finals where they lost by one point, 55-54 to the Campbell Memorial Red Devils.  Some may remember the name Michael Farrington.  He was their standout.  They would cruise to two more wins and a state title...making many in Orrville ponder the loss even more, thinking another state title was in reach had we won that game...and looking forward, a never-to-be FOUR state titles in a FIVE YEAR stretch.  What could have been. (Here's an article written a few years ago catching up with Farrington.  Notice how he fondly remember the Orrville win...not the state games.  Thought that was interesting.)

1994-95: This was the first district tournament held at the new Wooster High School, the Riders advanced to the finals to face Norwayne, the team that defeated them in the 1993-94 district final 68-51.  Because of local interest in the game, it was decided to move the game to the Canton Fieldhouse.  The Riders pulled away from a tough Bobcat team to win the game 63-54.  The Riders would take out Newton Falls in the regional semifinals and then Youngstown Mooney in the regional finals...then defeated Ontario 68-65 in the state semifinals and then defeated Wheelersburg 79-50 to give the Riders their 2nd state title in 4 years.

1995-96: Moving up to Division 2, the Riders would play districts at the famed Canton Fieldhouse.  Moving up a division seemed to present no challenge to the Riders as they cruised through the Canton district, beating Canton South 79-43 to advance to regionals at the James A Rhodes arena on the campus of the University of Akron.  They would defeat Poland Seminary in the regional semifinals, before topping Villa-Angela St. Joseph in the regional final.  They would defeat Kettering Alter 65-49 in the semifinals, and then squeak by Ottawa-Glandorf 60-59 to capture the Division 2 crown.

2009-10: The Riders made their return to the Division 3 Wooster District a memorable one..topping Triway 69-65 at the College of Wooster.  It was the Riders first district title in 14 years.  The Riders would win two more games at regionals, beating Cleveland Central Catholic 65-59 and the Newton Falls 67-56 to punch their ticket to Columbus.  They would shock Columbus Ready in the semifinals 50-48 before falling just short to Lima CC, 60-57.

2010-11: Orrville beat Triway for the 2nd straight year in the district final, this time by a 67-57 score.  Both teams entered the tourney with identical 7-13 records.  Zach Wasson led Orrville with 24 points on the night.  Orrville would fall in their regional semifinal game against Youngstown Ursuline, 66-58.

2011-12: Obviously the one that everyone will remember is the most recent..Riders beat Wellington, 61-51. Drew Brenner poured in a career-high 30 points to lead the Riders to their 3rd straight district title.

So there you go...12 district titles..all special in their own unique way.  If anyone has memories of any of these games and/or tournament runs, please feel free to share in the comments.


Anonymous said...

85-86 District was at Fieldhouse, not Smithville. Still remember David Cowger from Coventry missing 2 ft's in last seconds to preserve win.

Any idea how many district runner ups we have? It has to be quite a few.

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

I know of at least 6 times we've finished as district runner up. In 1982, 90 & 91 we lost to St. V in the district finals, and then lost to Northwest in the Canton D-2 district in 2004 and then again to Triway in 2005.

From 1985 through 1996, we played in 10 district finals (out of a possible 12).

Anonymous said...

1980 This was the area of Eric Short, Ron Wachtel and Ricky Stoudmire.