NOTE: The Pickaway County Player of the Year trophies for football, boys and girls basketball and wrestling were taken over by the county schools this past fall. John Howley and Brad Morris were named trustees of the trophies and determine the winner. We want to thank Roese Bros. Paving for becoming a presenting sponsor of the trophies and helping to preserve them for future generations. Roese Bros. Paving also provides a plaque for each winner to keep. The winning school gets to keep the traveling trophy in its trophy case for a year, per tradition.
By Brad Morris
It takes a lot of sweat, a lot of repetition and hard work to become a sharp shooter.
Logan Elm senior Isaac Ward can attest to that.
“Every morning my dad and I would get up and shoot at the YMCA for awhile and this year here at Logan Elm before school,” Ward said. “Outworking other players is something I pride myself on. I knew that if I wanted to be successful, be a strong player and leader that I had to work extremely hard to accomplish those things.”
Ward scorched the nets inside Spangler Memorial Gymnasium for four seasons, becoming the third leading scorer in program history (1,379 points) and averaging 20.2 points per game during his senior season. He was recently recognized for his outstanding senior season and career by earning the Bob Bowsher Memorial Trophy, presented to the top senior boys basketball player in Pickaway County.
“It’s quite an accomplishment to win this award and I know I wouldn’t be here by myself,” Ward said. “I’m thankful for my family, for my coaches and teammates from when I was a freshman through this season.
“They played a huge role in getting me to this point and winning this award.”
Ward, who shot 51 percent from the field and 42.2 percent from three-point range, has been well-recognized for his achievements on the hardwood. The senior guard was named the player of the year in both the Mid-State League Buckeye Division and Division II in the Southeast District, sharing that honor with Waverly junior Trey Robertson, and earlier this week was named second-team All-Ohio.
Logan Elm coach Doug Stiverson believes the passion for the game that Ward displays has translated into his success.
“It’s been a lot of fun to see Isaac grow over the last four years and watching him for a long time,” he said. “To me, what sets Isaac apart is his work ethic and the passion that he has for the game of basketball.
“He’s in here shooting every day before school, not just during the offseason or preseason, but when we have a practice later in the day during the season. Isaac has also hit the weight room hard and gotten a lot stronger, which has helped him develop his overall game. Isaac’s dedication to the game of basketball and the success of our team had been remarkable.”
A four-year starter for the Braves, Ward was primarily a three-point shooter when he broke into the starting lineup, but has steadily added other facets to his game as he has grown and become a strong young man.
“Getting a lot stronger has really helped my game and getting to the basket,” Ward said. “I’ve also worked hard on developing my mid-range game, so if I start towards the basket that I can pull up and knock down a jumper if I feel that’s my best option to score against a taller player.”
Ward was joined in the starting lineup during his freshman season by two other classmates, Jason Sailor and Jeremy Wietelmann. Another classmate, Gabe Chalfin, received significant playing time off the bench.
While the group had to learn on the run and what it took to win on the varsity level as freshmen and sophomores, they broke through last season by leading the seventh-seeded Braves to their first district championship since 2014.
“We were tough on this group and threw them into the fire when they were freshmen,” Stiverson said. “They didn’t have the luxury of one or two classes above them showing them the ropes and how to win championships. They had to learn that themselves.”
Ward scored his 1,000th career point in a district semifinal win over Athens and had an opportunity to claim his piece of the Convocation Center net after a district final victory over Warren.
“I remember watching Dillon Young, Logan Thompson and that group getting to play at the Convo in 2014 and thought what an awesome experience it would be if I got to play on that floor someday,” Ward said. “When we beat (second-seeded) Jackson and got to play on the Convo floor, that was a surreal experience and then to win the district championship and cut down the net.”
Unfortunately, the Braves were never able to play in the Sweet 16 as the rest of the tournament was first postponed and ultimately canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Ward and his teammates had a district title on their resume, they had yet to conquer the Mid-State League Buckeye Division.
The Braves added that elusive league title this season by going 13-1 to win the outright league championship for the first time since 2014.
Ward helped the Braves to a pair of two-point wins over Liberty Union, 71-69 in double overtime at home and 47-45 in the second meeting. Ward set his career-high with 39 points in the double overtime win and made eight clutch free throws in the pair of bonus periods.
Logan Elm wrapped up the outright league title with a 49-43 win over Fairfield Union, avenging their lone loss during the regular-season. Ward led the Braves with 22 points in that tilt.
“The double overtime game against Liberty Union was fun, because it was back-and-forth for the whole game and we made a lot of tough plays as a team to fight for that win,” Ward said. “To clinch the outright league title against Fairfield Union and get revenge for that earlier loss was an awesome feeling.
“It was nice to get to cut down the nets here at home and get to celebrate with my teammates. That’s something I’ll never forget.”
Ward wanted to see the Braves maximize their success during the season and in order for them to do so, the senior felt he needed to step-up and be more of a vocal leader.
“We worked extremely hard and had a lot of intense practices, but I wanted those to be chances where we could laugh a little and still have fun,” he said. “I wanted our team to have the best season we could, so I knew I needed to step-up and assert myself more vocally. I wasn’t scared to say something if it needed to be said.
“I’m hoping that rubbed off on the younger guys, the freshmen and sophomores, and they’ll help to carry that on into next season.”
The Braves went on to win a sectional title against Miami Trace before falling in a district semifinal to Unioto.
Ward plans on majoring in either pre-med or biology in college and is considering playing basketball at the next level.
As Ward prepares for that next step in his life, he’ll fondly remember the brotherhood he was apart of for the past four seasons.
“We loved being around each other and we had an incredible bond, a brotherhood,” he said. “There were times when you were a little down and didn’t want to go into the gym that day, but we did and we stuck with it because we wanted to accomplish big things.
“I think the coaches would tell you that we were a group that worked hard in the open gyms, practices and during the summer and did all of those things that needed to be done. And we had a lot of fun together along the way.”
Bob Bowsher Memorial Trophy winners
1948 — James Picklesimer, Williamsport
1949 — Robert Pontius, Walnut
1950 — William Rowley, Darby
1951 — Lester Sanders, Monroe
1952 — Harley Evans, Atlanta
1953 — William Evans, Pickaway
1954 — Kenneth Kirk, New Holland
1955 — Harold Gerhardt, Atlanta
1956 — Gene Stonerock, Williamsport
1957 — Dave Smith, Pickaway
1958 — Richard Hoover, Ashville
1959 — Gary Valentine, Saltcreek
1960 — Robert Hoover, Ashville
1961 — Robert Eitel, Jackson
1962 — Thomas Rathburn, Ashville
1963 — Rick Pond, Williamsport
1964 — Tom Seeley, Monroe
1965 — Bill Fortner, Teays Valley
1966 — Neil Coleman, Westfall
1967 — Russ Merrin, Logan Elm
1968 — Charles Palmer, Westfall
1969 — Tom Lightie, Westfall
1970 — Dale Lambert, Teays Valley
1971 — Mark Knece, Logan Elm
1972 — Terry Morrison, Circleville
1973 — Tom Sykes, Logan Elm
1974 — Craig Pontius, Teays Valley
1975 — Perry Hoskins, Circleville
1976 — Biff Bumgarner, Circleville
1977 — Chuck Cave, Logan Elm
1978 — Toren Bensonhaver, Circleville
1979 — Terry Wright, Logan Elm
1980 — John Sanders, Teays Valley
1981 — Jerry Mowery, Westfall
1982 — Brad Rivers, Westfall
1983 — Doug Hoover, Teays Valley
1984 — Luke McConnell, Circleville
1985 — Marc Gothard, Teays Valley
1986 — Kyle Wolfe, Westfall
1987 — Trond Smith, Logan Elm
1988 — Shane Roese, Teays Valley
1989 — Mike Miller, Teays Valley
1990 — Donn Rathburn, Teays Valley
1991 — Chris Strawser, Circleville
1992 — Ashley Hoskins, Circleville
1993 — Brian Dollison, Westfall
1994 — Brandon Lambert, Teays Valley
1995 — Tony Picklesimer, Westfall
1996 — Trevor Younkin, Teays Valley
1997 — Thom Patete, Westfall
1998 — Lee Gunn, Logan Elm
1999 — Brad Brooks, Logan Elm
2000 — Tyler Schleich, Westfall
2001 — Adam Stewart, Teays Valley
2002 — Matt Fosnaugh, Teays Valley
2003 — Craig Stewart, Circleville
2004 — Drew Shaw, Westfall
2005 — Tyler Evans, Logan Elm
2006 — Evan Blake, Logan Elm
2007 — Cory Cooper, Circleville
2008 — Steve Largent, Logan Elm
2009 — Tim Congrove, Logan Elm
2010 — Adam Blake, Logan Elm
2011 — Nate Anderson, Teays Valley
2012 — Nathan Moats, Circleville
2013 — Alek Stonerock, Westfall
2014 — Dillon Young, Logan Elm
2015 — Preston Gothard, Teays Valley
2016 — Michael Camp, Circleville
2017 — Ridge Young, Logan Elm
2018 — Isaac Roese, New Hope
2019 — Ryan Wolfe, Teays Valley
2020 — Jay Wyman, Westfall
2021 — Isaac Ward, Logan Elm
— Bob Bowsher was an outstanding student-athlete from Circleville who died in World War II serving his country.
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