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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Winter Sports Update

A super busy weekend of Red Rider sports is in the books and post-season tournaments are in full swing.  There's plenty to talk about, so let's get right to it.

Closing the Gym
It was great being part of one last night in the gym.  It felt like old times with a packed house and a buzz in the air.  It probably won't hit me until I see a game in the new gym.  It was also great to see players and coaches from some of Orrville's great teams come back to the gym that they helped make so many great memories.  Diane Shanklin and Erica Short represented the volleyball program, Dennis Hochstetler represented the wrestling program, Hannah Plybon and Stacie Howard represented the girls basketball program and Kevin Summers and Marcell Denson represented the boys basketball program.  Here are some pictures courtesy of former basketball player & current track coach Andy Vernon:

Pre-game ceremony
Panorama before National Anthem
The final jump ball
Final points scored by Luke Smith
The final points in the gym were scored by freshman Luke Smith, the grandson of Orrville coaching legend Steve Smith.  Amazing that in a gym Smitty made so famous, his grandson would be the one to close it down with a 3-pointer.

Girls Basketball
The girls breezed their way into the district rounds, notching easy wins over Rittman (72-19) and Loudonville (75-46).  Counting their last regular season game against Clear Fork, the Lady Riders have won their last 3 games by an average of 42 points per game.  Next up is Northwestern this Thursday.  They defeated the Huskies by a 79-38 score just a few weeks ago but tough to beat a team twice in a season.  Guessing they'll try to slow down the pace, but if we're hitting shots like we've been, it may not matter.  That would set up a district final between either Canton Central Catholic or undefeated Smithville on Saturday at 2pm at Triway for a trip to the sweet 16.

Senior Hannah Plybon is sitting at 1,974 points in her career.  She needs just 26 points to be just the 3rd in area history to score 2,000 career points.  That would put in the top 50 all-time in Ohio girls history in points scored.

She also needs just 6 points to top 600 points on the season, something no girl at Orrville has ever done and only 3 boys at OHS have done (Kevin Summers twice, Ron Wachtel and Chris Royer).

The ladies team is now 22-2 on the season, needing 1 more win to tie the record for wins in a season.  The district final could be the game they break that record, and if they win that game, it would be Coach Alberts' 100th win as Orrville girls coach in just his 5th season.  He's never won LESS than 18 games in his 5 years at Orrville...that's pretty impressive.

Boys Basketball
The boys team ended the season with a 5-17 record but will again seek to string together 4 wins and capture a 4th straight district crown.  They dispatched of Black River 53-32 in the sectional opener.  The win was only the 4th win in the last 3 seasons that have been by 20 or more points.  Three of those wins have come in tournament play (2011 & 2012 vs. Chippewa).

The win was the Riders 15th straight tournament win at Wooster High School dating back to 1995 when the school opened.  The Riders have never lost on that floor in a tournament game, but that will be tested this Friday night at they take on #2 seed Oberlin.

The team has played hard all year and seem to be playing some pretty good ball right now.  I'd say don't count them out, but it seems to motivate them when that continue to count them out I guess.

For the 7th straight year, a Red Rider will travel down I-71 to Columbus for the state wrestling tournament, and this year it's senior Brad Potter at the 152 lb. weight class.  He finished 2nd to Norwayne's Kollin Moore at districts and will seek to become the school's 33rd state placer.  OHS has now had 59 state qualifiers according to AD Kent Smith.  Since 1999 (15 seasons), Orrville has sent at least 1 wrestler to state in 12 of those years.

Potter is 42-5 on the season and will take on Tyler Williamson of Cin. Madiera in the first round of the Division 3, 152 lb. bracket.  The full list of brackets for Division 3 is here.  Basically it takes 4 wins to place in the top 8...and 4 straight wins to finish as state champ.

What is interesting about this year is that a wrestler from Dalton will also be making the trip with the Orrville contingent.  Dalton senior Drew Everett qualified for state at the 145 lb. weight class.  Dalton's wrestling program was disbanded earlier this year due to low numbers so Drew became sort of an adopted son of the Orrville program, practicing and traveling with the Orrville team.  He will still represent Dalton High School, but will have the support of Red Rider Nation behind him....even spawning these t-shirts from downtown Orrville business Expert T's.

Sports Hall of Fame Applications Due
Only a few days left to get your nomination in for the OHS Sports Hall of Fame.  Induction will be this September.  Here's a link to the application.  Once filled out, they can be mailed to the high school to the attention of the Athletic Office.

Just get the nomination form in...doesn't have to be pages and pages.

Last but not least, be sure to check out Rod Dilyard's pictures for purchase.  He does great work and puts in a lot of hours and miles providing this service.  Some really great shots of the final game in the gym.

Go Riders!!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Favorite Orrville Gym Memories

We're coming up on the final game ever to be played in the current Orrville High School gym.  On Friday February 22nd against Lexington, the curtain will open and close one final time on a gym that's seen so many greats since the gym was first used in 1955, when Bobby Knight was a sophomore.

For the past several years, it's been Bob Knight Gymnasium...not sure if it had an official name prior to that (maybe just OHS Gymnasium), but what I am sure of is that it's been the scene of so many memorable moments, memorable teams and competitors and certainly some memorable coaches.

Before the start of the boys varsity game with Lexington on the 22nd, a brief tribute to the gym will be held...current and former coaches and players of the teams who played in the gym (volleyball, wrestling and boys & girls basketball) will be honored as representatives of the sport they played in the gym.

The point of this post is to gather some of your memories of our hallowed gym.  Can be as a fan, parent, grandparent, player, coach, pep band member, student, referee or whatever relationship you had with the gym.

I'll start...and for me, it's one memory only that rises above the rest...the boys basketball game against Akron Firestone in February of 1992.  Firestone came into the game with an 11-0 record, #1 ranked in Division 1 and boasting the trio of All-American Quentin Brooks, Andre Smith (son of Cleveland Cavs legend Bingo Smith) and Kenny Lane.  They were as big and athletic of a team that I've ever seen....and in the typical fashion of a Steve Smith coached team, the Riders simply took the fight to them, defeating the Falcons 68-54.

Here's the newspaper clipping from that didn't give much detail about the game...guessing the game was up against a newspaper deadline for the Courier so all they had room for was the basics.

It was one the most highly anticipated games in school history and tickets were sold out long before the day of the game.  An overflow crowd watched via closed circuit TV in the auditorium.  I was lucky enough to get a seat in the gym and if you have a copy of the game on tape...I'm the kid (a freshman at the time) standing up and blocking the view of the I have video evidence that I was in the building that night.  Mr. Coppa wasn't too happy with me, but I wasn't going to sit on my hands all night.

I've never heard a "buzz" in the gym louder than that night, and never has a crowd of barely 1,000 been so loud.  Everyone knew who was coming to "our" gym..a big D-1 school with an All-American..and we wanted to prove that we not only belonged but that we were better.  No offense to the crowds of today...but crowds back then were loud...I know it's hard to believe, but even the adults in the reserved seats were standing and cheering...we didn't wait until the 4th quarter to make noise, the cheering started before the opening tip.  We stood and cheered as Orrville players were introduced even.  Hard to believe isn't it?

Firestone ended the regular season ranked #4 in Division 1 and advanced to the state final four while Orrville finished the year #2 in Division 3 in the AP poll, but won 8 straight tourney games to win the school's first team state championship. 

I'm sure this game would be #1 on a lot people's list..but there have been plenty of other highlights as well.  Those years in the early to mid 1990's were so amazing from a memories standpoint.  From the 1991-92 season through the 1995-96 season Orrville boys basketball won 115 games (average of 23 wins per season), 3 state titles, an AP poll title in 1996 and had an amazing 29-2 record in the post-season in those 5 seasons.

It doesn't have to be games either...some of the "welcome home" celebrations from our 3 state championship teams were memorable as well.  Our girls teams have clinched OCC titles on that court, and we've seen some great wrestlers compete in that gym...guys like Shane Hartzler and the late Jack Leeder.  And even some sad memories as well, most notably Coach Smith's memorial service that was held in the gym in 2005...a gym where he helped make so many good memories was the gym where the town said goodbye.

Not looking for anything specific, just your memories of the gym....could be memories of games or practices, players, coaches or fans.  Just leave a comment below...anonymously or leave your name.

Hopefully you can make it to the game on the last time to sit in those cramped bleachers and remember the glory years, the three state title teams, the 1980 and 2009 teams that went to the final four, the countless great teams that made us so proud season after season. 

The gym where coaches taught and kids to win, how to lose..and most importantly, how to be Red Riders.

Friday, February 8, 2013

History Lesson: All 26 of Orrville's Final Four Appearances

I had the following list sent to me by Orrville AD Kent Smith.  It's a detailed list of every one of our 26 final four appearances by our sports teams.  I took some time to fill in details of each team's result at the final four (scores, who they beat or lost to, etc.) and added each team's coach as well.

The end result of this list is two-fold.  One is to compile this information for the sake of history...and two...I'm hearing the plan is to recognize every one of the 26 appearances with a banner on the wall of the new gym when it opens for business.  Each final four appearance would get it's own separate banner, resulting in a gym wall's worth of athletic achievement in our program since the baseball team notched the school's first final four in 1976.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Orrville Girls Get #2 Seed in District Draw

It's almost tournament time for boys and girls basketball.  Best time of the season is close upon us. 

The girls district draw was this past Sunday and our Red Riders, sporting a nice 17-2 record, were rewarded with the #2 seed in the upcoming Wooster District tournament to be played at Triway High School.

Considering that Smithville, the undefeated and #1 ranked team in Division 3, shares the district with the Red Riders, a 2-seed is about the best we could have hoped for.  The argument of who plays a tougher schedule (certainly Orrville) and who might actually be the better team (also Orrville in my opinion) doesn't really matter.  If each team takes care of business, the two squads will have a chance to prove that on the court....but both will have to win 3 tourney games first before that discussion can even take place...and the distrcit will be a tough one, so no guarantees at all.

The Riders will open tourney play on Wednesday February 20th against Rittman at 6pm at Triway.  If they win, they'll face Loudonville on Saturday February 23rd at 4pm.

The full district bracket is here and the region bracket is here.  Both will be at the top of the page for easy access throughout tourney play.

What was interesting about the way the draw shook out was that the #3 (Canton CC) and #4 seeds (Chippewa) both chose the top half of the bracket...away from Orrville. That says volumes about who those teams don't want to play..and that they'd rather take their chances with the #1 team in Division 3 (Smithville).

Points Update
After Monday's 59-51 win over Canton CC, Orrville seniors Hannah Plybon and Maggie Davault are closing in on scoring milestones.  Hannah came into the Canton CC game with 1,796 points and erupted for 35 points against the Crusaders, tying her career high and increasing her career total to 1,831.  She's already the all-time leading scorer in Wayne Co. girls history, and is a little over 100 points away from eclipsing the boys record of 1,945 set by Dalton's Ryan Berg back in the early 1990's.  To get to 2,000, she needs 169 more points.  It would likely take the Riders making it to regionals (at least) for Hannah to get to 2,000.  Very possible, but the focus in tourney play will be on winning games, not scoring points..and the deeper the Riders go, the tougher the teams they'll play.

Davault currently sits at 880 points after the Canton CC game, needing just 120 more to become just the 5th Red Rider girl to score 1,000 points.  She's the proverbial straw that stirs the drink on this team...her hustle and heart simply can't be measured in a box score.  Some college would be wise to take a look at Maggie...she'll never be the tallest girl on the court, but she's a gamer that plays much taller than she is and with a ton of heart.

Doubleheader with Northwestern
This Saturday will be a unique one at Orrville HS as Northwestern will bring their boys and girls team to Bob Knight Gym for a doubleheader.  The day will start with the girls JV game, then the boys JV game.  Both games will be free to watch.  After the boys JV game is done, the gym will be cleared, and those wishing to watch the girls varsity followed by the boys varsity games will have to pay admission.

The action starts at 3pm.  Only a few chances left to watch a game in the "old" gym.  Don't miss out.