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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hannah Plybon, Orrville Alums & March Madness

Akron's Hannah Plybon (L) and Ball State's Brandy Woody fight for a loose ball in the first half March 15, 2014 during the championship game of the 2014 Mid-American Conference Women's Basketball Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena. (John Kuntz / The Plain Dealer)
If you're a supporter of Red Rider athletics, you were no doubt smiling this past weekend at the news of 2013 OHS alum Hannah Plybon and the Akron Zips women's basketball team winning the Mid-American Conference tournament.

The win over Ball State at the Q Arena in Cleveland was not only the program's first MAC title since it's inception, but the win also clinched the first ever berth in the NCAA Women's Tournament for the Zips.
Hannah had 9 points (on three 3-pointers) in the win and continues to be a steady contributor.

The Zips received the 13th seed in the "Notre Dame" bracket and will face 4th seeded Purdue this Saturday on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN.

Hannah & the Zips qualifying for "March Madness" got me thinking about how many other Red Rider alums have taken part in the pinnacle of college basketball.  Several names came to mind right away, but I needed reminded of others, and some I had completely forgot.  Thanks to several readers, my memory was jolted and I was able to research the rest.

Below is, what I believe, the complete list of Orrville alums that have either played or coached in the men's or women's Division 1 NCAA basketball tournament.

1. Bobby Knight (Class of 1958).  This was the obvious one.  Before he was "The General" as a coach, he helped lead Ohio State to the 1960 NCAA title as a player. He would then lead the great Indiana teams of the 70's and 80's to 3 National Titles as a head coach....becoming one of very few coaches to win a title as a player and a coach (Dean Smith, Joe B. Hall, Lisa Mulkey-Robertson are the others). Coach Knight was a charter member of the Orrville HS Sports Hall of Fame.

2. Bob Weltlich (Class of 1962). Bob participated in several "March Madness" tourneys as a head coach at Mississippi, Florida International and South Alabama. He was also an assistant to Bob Knight on the 1976 Indiana Hoosier Undefeated National Championship team.  Coach Weltlich was a 2013 inductee in the Orrville HS Sports Hall of Fame.

3. Ron Snyder (Class of 1966). I'd have never thought of this one if not for Mr. Dave Yonto. He said while he was a senior attending Notre Dame, the Irish faced Miami of Ohio and OHS grad Ron Snyder played for them. The Redskins (now the Redhawks) defeated the Irish 63-60 but lost their next game to eventual National Runner Up Purdue and the 3rd place contest to Kentucky. Ron was a 1997 inductee in the Orrville HS Sports Hall of Fame.

4. Rhonda Winters (Class of 1984). The #2 career scorer in Orrville girls history, Rhonda was part of the 1985 Ohio State team that made the NCAA tournament. The Buckeyes were 28-3 on the season and a perfect 18-0 in the Big Ten. They defeated Holy Cross in the first round and Penn State in the 2nd round before being bounced from the tournament by Old Dominion.

5. Stacie (Howard) Carpenter (Class of 1990). Aside from Bobby Knight's run to the 1960 National Title with Ohio State, Stacie (Howard) Carpenter's 1993 March Madness run was one of the most incredible. She was a starter as a junior on that team (along with then freshman standout Katie Smith) and averaged 8 points a game on the season. They entered the tournament with a record of 24-3 and shared the Big Ten title with Iowa. The Buckeyes captured the East region with consecutive wins over Rutgers, Western Kentucky and Virginia to punch their ticket to the Final Four in Atlanta.  They defeated Iowa in the National Semifinal but dropped an 84-82 heartbreaker to Texas Tech in the championship game. WNBA great Sheryl Swoopes was on that Texas Tech team and scored 47 points that night against the Buckeyes. If you're reading this Stacie...sorry for opening up any old wounds. :-) Stacie was a 1999 inductee into the Orrville HS Sports Hall of Fame.

6. Keri (Simmons) Hamsher (Class of 1994). As a member of the Marshall women's basketball team, Keri led the Herd to the 1997 NCAA Tournament (their first tournament appearance ever) as an automatic qualifier by winning the Southern Conference Tournament championship.  She was named MVP of the conference tournament.  Their first round opponent in the NCAA tournament was Colorado and they lost 69-49. Keri was a 2001 inductee into the Orrville HS Sports Hall of Fame.

7. Dawn (Woodruff) Hamilton (Class of 1998). Dawn participated in the 1999 tournament as a member of the Liberty Flames. They won the Big South Conference Tournament and earned an automatic bid to the tourney, but lost their first round game versus Georgia.

8. Hannah Plybon (Class of 2013).  To be determined.....

What a great legacy all of those listed above and many, many others have made for themselves after leaving the halls of OHS.  Proud to call them all Red Riders.

I really, really hope that I recognized everyone.  If I missed anyone that is an Orrville alum and played or coached in either the men's or women's NCAA Division 1 basketball tournament, please let me know.

Good luck Hannah this weekend against Purdue....Orrville is so proud of what you and your teammates have accomplished this year....and hope it continues.


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