Sports Extra with Dave Ross: Piqua sectional is special

Sports Extra - With Dave Ross

It’s been over 40 years since our area’s small school boys basketball sectionals landed in Piqua. The move to a new, larger, and more centrally located facility came at a time that the Shelby County Athletic League was emerging as a premier basketball grouping.

League members always meet twice in the regular season, meaning that a tourney matchup with a fellow SCAL team would be the third time around. Each February, the final games at Piqua yield two teams to advance to separate games at the district finals. As was the case last weekend, the sectional finals are often SCAL rematches.

Before last Friday’s Jackson Center versus Fort Loramie contest I was visiting with tournament manager and former Dayton Flyer Chip Hare. “I’ll be disappointed after Saturday’s Botkins-Russia game. We won’t get to do this for another year. I love the competition, attendance, energy, and overall sportsmanship of what happens here,” he enthusiastically opined. With COVID restrictions now eliminated, those aspects were all elevated here in 2022.

Almost on cue, Jackson and Loramie delivered the goods that Hare described. The lead changed hands twice in the final :15 as JC took the exhausting verdict after leading most of the night. Postgame interactions revealed deep respect among players, coaches, and fans from both sides. I stayed in my press row seat to take it all in.

I remembered the two years in the 1980’s when this duo both advanced from Piqua and eventually met in the regional at the UD Arena. In 1985’s regional final, Jackson pulled it out at the end and went on to the state title. Two seasons later, Loramie returned the favor in convincing fashion in a regional semifinal, then also won the state. In each instance the game after JC-FL was against nationally ranked Columbus Wehrle with our county team prevailing while generating national attention.

As I exited Piqua’s Garbry Gym last Friday, Chip Hare looked at me and smiled. “It doesn’t get any better than this,” he proclaimed as I nodded in agreement.

Celena is tops

Sidney grad Celena Taborn completed a fine four year women’s basketball career at Division I Furman a year ago. This season the 6’3” forward decided to play one more year as a “graduate transfer” at Butler in Indianapolis. Though the Bulldogs finished the regular season at 1-26 with no wins in the rugged Big East, Taborn led the nation in field goal percentage at 68.78 on 130-189.

She averaged 13.1 points and 5.5 rebounds. Her high point outing was 33 in an early season match with Denver. Butler plays Seton Hall this afternoon in the Big East tournament.

Andre Gordon

There’s a splendid Youtube feature on Sidney’s Andre Gordon, now in his third basketball season at Texas A&M. Google “Andre Gordon Youtube work rooted” and go from there. He’s a wonderful ambassador for Sidney and the Yellow Jackets.

Sports Extra

With Dave Ross

Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross has covered local sports since 1975. He’s the senior member of the OHSAA Media Advisory Committee.

Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross has covered local sports since 1975. He’s the senior member of the OHSAA Media Advisory Committee.