Tuesday, January 22, 2019

K of C Basketball - Dave's Midwestern Ohio Memories

A Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s

K of C Basketball

After graduating from high school in 1966, my two older cousins suggested I join the Knights of Columbus and play on the Council's basketball team. Dad was a long time K of C member who also encouraged me to join the fraternal organization that supported charitable work around the area. Because Ft. Loramie did not have its own Council, my Dad and cousins all had joined nearby Minster’s Council, so I soon participated in the memorable initiation ceremony held at the K of C Hall along Main Street in Minster.

Coach Ripploh
The K of C team played in the so-called the Tri-County League with about 8 other teams from Shelby, Auglaise and Mercer Counties. At the time, Russia was the defending champion and Minster came in a close second. Minster Coach Bill Ripploh wanted a championship so I and another new graduate from Minster were added to the team.

The season started in early December, and I was immediately plunged into an intensely physical style of play that I obviously had not been exposed to in high school.

The schedule included two games against each of the other teams in the league; one at home and the other away. Fortunately, we didn’t have to play Russia early in the season, which allowed our team to gel. We started slow with a 2-2 record, but by the time of the first Russia game in January, our record had improved to 6-3 after a blow-out win over Maria Stein K of C as scribed in this Community Post article.

January 5, 1967 Community Post

As a rookie, my playing time was limited, especially since I was a string bean compared the older players. I was getting seriously pushed around when driving to the basket or trying to rebound. The physical play occurred because the referees did not call fouls nearly as closely as in high school, which meant in this league I quickly learned to defend very aggressively on defense without risking fouling out. As a result, I generally came off the bench to defend whomever had the hot hand on the other team.

Bowling Green’s 1963 Basketball Team

In early-January, we traveled to undefeated Russia for our first matchup. They were led by their high school coach Elijah Chatman, an African-American from Akron who played on the same high school team as future NBA greats Nate Thurmond and Gus Johnson. Chatman (35) and Thurmond (43) both went on to play at Bowling Green where in 1963, they guided BG to a 21-4 record, a MAC championship, eventually losing to Illinois in the second round of the NCAA tournament that was eventually won by Chicago-Loyola, who BG had beaten earlier in the season.

Needless to say, Chatman had the early hot hand in our game, so off the bench I came to try and stop him. I had never guarded anybody so quick and agile! He blew me away for 18 points while I was held scoreless; losing the game by 11. But as indicated in the Community Post article that follows, we recovered in our next game to blow out New Bremen by 29 points.

January 12, 1967 Community Post

We played the final game of the regular season at home against Russia in late February after we “whipped” Maria Stein when I “bagged" 22 points. We were in second place behind 25-1 Russia and had to beat them in order to qualify for the State K of C tournament. Elijah Chatman must have been injured so was not playing. As a result, we were able to eek out a one-point win as described in this Community Post article:

February 23, 1967 Community Post

So off to the State Tournament we went, only to eventually play Russia again in the quarterfinal round. The winner earned the right to play in the semifinal game at the Cincinnati Gardens before an NBA game between the Royals and Baltimore Bullets. This time we lost by a disappointing 2 points after having an 11 point lead at halftime. I distinctly recall missing a on-and-one foul shot late in the game that could have tied it. You’ll have to ask one of the Russia players if they went on to win the State Tournament and what it was like to play at the old Cincinnati Gardens.

March 2, 1967 Community Post

That was the only season I played in the league, as I was off to college at General Motors Institute in Michigan the next year. While playing for the Minster K of C, I attended Sinclair Community College and also played for their basketball team as documented in this previous blogpost, while working at Frigidaire in Dayton to earn money for college. How I was able to do all that is beyond me now! The good news is I’m still a K of C member in good standing at our local parish council here in Michigan.

As a follow-up to a recent blogpost about the restoration of the barn on our former family farm, a cousin provided an excerpt from my uncle Tony’s memoirs about the barn on their family farm in St. Patrick's that I had turned into a blogpost back in 2016. Enjoy!


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