Columbus or Bust
Although Minster lost the game, the highlight was seeing one of my cousins dunk the basketball; the first time I had ever witnessed a dunk in high school play. From that high vantage point, it was like watching the dunk from a sky cam. And at that moment, dunking the basketball became a goal of mine as well, which I accomplished (sort of) and wrote about in a previous blog.
The best state tournament memory came in 1977 when Ft. Loramie won it all, becoming the first local basketball team to become state champion. During the previous summer when visiting my parents, I recall seeing Doug Brandewie, the star of that team, whose family lived in the neighborhood, running along the road adjoining our farm. Dad’s said Doug ran by every day and he seemed to be going faster each time. That’s when I had an positive inkling about that team, because up until then, no one ever really did summer conditioning. The year before, long-time Loramie Coach Kramer had retired, so new Coach Hamlin was obviously putting the boys through the paces that would really pay off big time the following spring during their tournament run. They beat Mansfield St. Pete 63-50, also at St. John’s Arena, but this time we had great seats in the lower bowl.
The Redskins, who were only 2-8 early in the season, started their run after beating Minster in triple overtime, going undefeated the rest of the way. My brother-in-law played for Minster in that game and remembers it was held on a Sunday as the game was cancelled earlier in the season due to bad weather. It was a home game for Ft. Loramie, but actually played at Minster because Loramie rented Minster’s court for their games because their cracker-box box gym was so outdated as evidenced by the center circle and the foul circles partially overlapping and the out of bounds lines right up against the walls.
Not coincidentally, that State Championship team created the momentum around Ft. Loramie to build and fund a new high school with a modern gym, which may never have happened, or at least as quickly, without the community spirit created by that winning team. A few years later, in the annual alumni basketball tournament, that championship 1977 team met our group of players from 1966-67 in the finals, which we lost on a last second shot by the player I was guarding (or should have been guarding due to double teaming Doug Brandewie). If only I had taken a lesson from that ‘77 team and did some running to get in better shape before the alumni tournament!
Today, with girls basketball to complement the boys, it seems there is always a Shelby County League team heading to State, which really makes it enjoyable for local fans and Fish Report readers alike during tournament time. Good luck to all the local teams. See you in Columbus!
St. John's Arena isn't home to the state high school basketball tournament
any longer, but this is what the crowd looked like when it was!