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Monroeville, Wakeman won first-round games in 1953

By Don Hohler • Apr 3, 2019 at 11:00 AM

If there was one event annually that grabbed the attention of local sports fans it was the annual Huron County Basketball Tournament. All of the games were played at the biggest gym in the county, the Norwalk High gymnasium on East Main Street.

First-round results of the 1953 tournament had Monroeville stopping Greenwich, 57-44, while Wakeman slipped by North Fairfield, 61-57.

Greenwich, then called the Shamrocks, held an early lead on the strength of the shooting of Jim Pettit, but Monroeville would turn it on late in the quarter and into the second period even though one of its starters, Dale Scheid, had to retire to the bench because of fouls. In the end, Ray Christman led the winners with 19 points while Dick Moser led the Shamrocks with 13.

Trailing by 10 at halftime, the Bob McNutt-coached North Fairfield Indians got within two before Townsend-Wakeman eased away to win by four.

Some familiar names in both boxscores. Monroeville used Christman, Herner, Scheid, Fries, Latham, Wilde and Peacock against Pettit, two Moser’s, initials D. and R., Patton, Dupee, Beck and Jenkins.

The Townsend-Wakeman players were Palmer, Burke, Becker, Dauch, Sherwood, Mahl, Friend and Carey. North Fairfield countered with Phillips, Conaway, Brown, Wheeler, Clemons, Sands and two Sweeting’s, initials J. and R.

For those interested, two officials, Dickerhoff and Enderle, worked both games.

Let’s break this basketball stuff up with a little table tennis.

That’s right, table tennis. It was city-wide event in Norwalk back then, one that was contested in three divisions, Junior Girls, Junior Boys and Senior Boys. Terry Turner was back to defend his senior boys title as was Jack Godfrey in junior boys.

Some of the female contestants included Judy Hutchins, Darlene Perkins, Liz Baker, Pheriba Downing, Nancy Rice, Martha Motsch, Barb Diringer and Jackie Helsel.

Godfrey’s bracket included Calvin Rennecker, Eugene Walker, Irvin Oglesby, John Zink, Don Zureich, Phil May and Bill Cash.

No idea as to who won. After all, it was not basketball.

The sports page carried the headline that Bob Feller had to take a 20-percent pay cut when he signed his 15th contract with the Indians. He had his first losing season in 1952 so he was only going to make $40,000. When quizzed about the pay cut, Feller would only say, “deservedly so.”

St. Paul and Huron were tied atop the Firelands Basketball League at this writing. Overall, Huron was 8-0 and St. Paul 8-3. The story goes on to say the New London is the dark-horse because of the potential scoring of Jack “Zeke” Evans and Russ Edgington and Monroeville would also be in the hunt had it not been for season-ending injuries to Ray Christman and Dave Latham.

Christman must have made a miraculous recovery, however, as his name was found in a later boxscore against St. Paul, the 38th meeting between the two teams, this one won by the host Flyers, 55-51 even though their No. 1 scorer, Hank Landoll was on the bench with four fouls most of the game.

The Flyer’s, coached by Les Zorge, is said to have been “wobbily” at this point of the season, especially in their recently loss to York Township.

The starters for St. Paul included the highly-touted Landoll. He scored 26 against Huron, one better than the Tiger’s sharp-shooter, Jim Armstrong. Also in the boxscore for the Flyers were Al Gamble, Larry Mahaffey, Bud Stoll, Ralph Shoemaker and Gene Seitz.

On a sad note, a pleasure flight out of Willard’s Heisler’s Airport, ended up in the death of two men, the pilot, William F. Schuck and his passenger, Harry Arnold. The plane crashed on the farm of Paul Miller, one-half mile west of the airport. It was reported that neither of the men had a pilot’s license.

Getting back to more fun-stuff, the Grant Wall-coached Truckers were winning two out of every three mainly on the strength of the 1-2 scoring punch of Dan Ebert and Jim Spettle. At this writing, they had strung together wins at the expense of the Railroaders from Crestline, Fremont St. Joe and Canton Timken.

Looking to the south, Willard was riding on a wave created by JC Miller, then called Bevo after the Rio Grande star, Clarence “Bevo” Francis. Miller scored a school record 45 points at the expense of Mansfield Madison on a Tuesday night and then came back three nights later to lay 51 on Norwalk.

The boxscore of the Willard game showed the following players. For Willard it was Miller, Keaton, Kline, Arrington, Bogner and Reed. Norwalk countered with Olcott who had 19, Ebert with 16, Sharick with 20, Battles with 10, Zureich, Hunter and Rogers. The final was 83-74.

The Firelands Football League would break up in two years. The story stated that new London, Huron and Vermilion would be leaving and would join Amherst, Clearview and Wellington starting in the 1955 season. The latter three teams were left out in the cold after the Southwestern Conference teams of Berea, Oberlin, Rocky River, Medina and Fairlawn decided to organize their own conference.


Don Hohler is a longtime Reflector sportswriter.

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