Last Sunday the boys of Botkins brought home their first basketball state title to give the Shelby County Athletic League a clean sweep of both genders in the small school division. The Fort Loramie girls had “cut the nets” on the previous weekend, also at the University of Dayton Arena. Both county squads scored 60 points in the title games.
Botkins was the favorite to win the SCAL throughout the season and did emerge as co-champion with Anna at 10-2 as they split their two encounters. The Trojans also had a pair of close games with Loramie which resulted in a split before Botkins claimed the rubber match in a district semi-final. There were other close calls on the schedule including second round league rematches with Jackson Center and Russia.
My point is that Botkins proved it was very good, and actually got better through a number of stiff challenges not only within the league but also outside including quality wins over New Bremen, Marion Local, Fort Recovery, and Minster. The third overall loss was non-league to Antwerp (24-2) in double overtime. The Trojans were tested and ready for their tournament run. They made us proud.
Throughout the games played by the Loramie girls and Botkins boys, SCAL Commissioner and Sidney attorney Stan Evans held down a corner seat just off the playing surface. To say he was enjoying all of this would be a massive understatement. Many from the basketball community stopped to visit. Stan was “holding court” and totally in his element.
Early this week I asked him for a few thoughts he’d like to share with my readers. I’ll start with something he always mentions. “We get very solid officials from a wide area to work our regular season games. They enjoy our level and environment of play. (In the officiating community) we’re known for committed coaches, competitive players, and knowledgeable fans.”
Evans relishes the double round of league games played by SCAL members. “I call it the second season. Results can be very different the second time around.”
Over the two weekends, Stan also traversed press row to see the media who regularly cover the seven county schools. He always covers all the bases. Evans is a superb commissioner, well qualified and in love with his job.
It was great to see the small town/hometown atmosphere at the Arena the past two weekends as four small towns supported their teams at the state finals level. Only McDonald, from the Youngstown area, had a long trip (241 miles). Fort Loramie, Botkins, and Columbus Grove all had convenient journeys down I-75 with Grove having the longest trek of only 86 miles.
Back to Dayton?
The girls tourney is already under contract to UD for two more years while the boys are officially TBA. UD genuinely wants to host these events and should be able to do so even when the NCAA “First Four” returns next year, especially with the OHSAA being willing to play on Sunday.
I’ve talked to insiders at UD and the OHSAA, and both parties apparently want to make this happen. “Great building, easy to get to, they want us here, and they know how to host,” one OHSAA official told me.
How about Ohio State in Columbus? They don’t really want these games and also have problems reserving athletic facilities for outside use well in advance. OSU Director of Athletics Gene Smith has made this abundantly clear to the OHSAA.
Dayton has a great arena with all the modern amenities. Both the city and university would embrace the high school championships on a continuing basis and make Dayton an ultimate hoops destination in the month of March. NCAA “First Four” would be a great centerpiece to such a calendar.
Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross covered his first state basketball tournament in 1977, and is now in his fourth decade as a media advisor to the Ohio High School Athletic Association.