Memorable nights of Pickaway County basketball

Editor’s note: Long-time area sports broadcaster and Westfall graduate Greg Bigam is a fantastic storyteller about the history of Pickaway County sports, going back to the pre-consolidation days that featured township schools such as Darby, Scioto, Pickaway and many others. Bigam recounts a 1959 instant hardwood classic between Darby and Scioto townships that led to a near run on a Grove City bank from angry fans. We hope you enjoy this story and look back at our past.

By Greg Bigam

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People love to talk about this game or that game, and there have been many unforgettable matchups. I still think the days of the Pickaway County League, before consolidation, and ending with a county tournament at the Pickaway County Fairgrounds, might still be the most memorable times!

Let’s go to February 1959. The Darby Trojans are 16-0 and ranked 5th in the state. Darby is 8-0 in Pickaway County league play and only a game at Scioto (Commercial Point) remains. Scioto is 7-1 in league play, having lost to Williamsport. A Scioto win would create a tie for the league title.

Darby featured the often titled “Dynamic Duo” of junior guards Tom Walters and Tom Liff. The Trojans also had John Drummond (one of the taller players in the county) and David “Rip” Musselman.

Scioto featured the top scorer in the county Dickie Melvin, who was averaging around 25 points a game. The Buffaloes also included James Sealock and Ernie Milburn.

Newspaper accounts mentioned that fans were lined up at 3:30 pm and over 200 people were turned away. Darby is now a part of Westfall and Scioto is part of Teays Valley. They are neighboring townships.

Scioto jumped out early, but Darby rallied to tie the game heading to the fourth quarter. The Buffaloes prevailed 70-60 which created a co-championship and ruined Darby’s unbeaten record. However, the story doesn’t end here.

Scioto was led by Melvin with 34 points and Milburn’s 15. Scioto shot 74 times hitting 27. Darby shot 81 times hitting just 24 field goals. Alvin Cox and Drummond led the Trojans with 17 and 13. Drummond was in early foul trouble, and Liff (12) and Walters (8) only combined for 20 and both eventually fouled out.

The Circleville Herald credits Scioto’s Sealock with his game of the year and describes Melvin as unstoppable at times. The Herald also notes that 38 fouls were called and Darby had 18 turnovers “many of which were three seconds”.

And now, as Paul Harvey often said, for the rest of the story….The referees that night were listed as Malone and Blasconis.

The story continues with the fact that one of the referees (Mr. Malone) worked at a bank in Grove City, which was just north of Darby Township and the bank to many in Derby and Darby Township. As soon as this Grove City bank opened the next day, there was a line of Darby fans and faithful lined up to withdraw their money from that bank!

As you can see, Pickaway County basketball fans were serious about basketball over 60 years ago. There was also a rumor that the same referee may have had a brick thrown through his home window. I wasn’t able to verify that part of the story.

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