The End of an Era and Beginning of a New One

By Greg Bigam

Special to

The old saying goes that it is difficult to beat a team that third time. That theory held true in 1962, when Ashville and a just consolidated Logan Elm met for the third time in the Central District tournament at Denison University.

As a side note, this would be the final basketball game in the storied history of Ashville. It was just the second season for Logan Elm, after consolidation of Pickaway, Washington and Salt Creek townships. Ashville would be a part of brand new Teays Valley in the 1962-63 school year.

In 1962, county teams met during the regular season, then played the Pickaway County Tournament inside the old Fairgrounds Coliseum. Only the top three teams (regular season champ and tournament champ and tournament runner-up) advanced to district competition.

The Broncos beat the Braves 72-63 in the regular season and 73-62 in the Pickaway County Tournament finals. In the county tournament semifinals, Ashville beat Williamsport 83-56 behind 54 combined points from Tom Rathburn and Dick Hollenback.

The Braves advanced beating Scioto 57-44 behind Dave Horn and Dan Hicks scoring a combined 38.

As mentioned, Ashville won the county tournament championship 73-62, but both teams advanced and as luck would have it, would meet for the third time.

Ashville was coached by the legendary Russ Gregg, who played on an Ashville team that went to the 1945 Final Four. Logan Elm had its first coach Keith Merrin, who coached the Braves until he left after the 1966-67 season.

The Braves probably had more depth and featured sharp shooting junior Chuck Spangler. They had Roger Clarke, Dave Horn, big Dan Hicks, two Hardman’s, Bob Parker, Brigner, and Hoffhines.

Ashville was led by four-year starter and Bob Bowsher winner Tom Rathburn. Rathburn was 6’4” and went on to play on the freshman team at Ohio State because freshmen were not eligible to play college varsity back then. The Broncos had Dick and Dan Hollenback and Sonny Roof.

The magical third game took place at Denison University in Granville. Ashville jumped out to a 22-13 lead after one quarter and led 41-33 at the half.

Logan Elm went on an 11-0 run in the third quarter and trailed 52-48 going to the final period. The final quarter saw the lead change hands 5 times.

Eventually, Ashville trailed by two. With two seconds remaining, Rathburn hit a shot to tie the game at 67-67. The Circleville Herald story does not mention an “and one” foul shot, but two participants do vaguely remember.

Bob Parker, retired Pickaway County Engineer, told me, “I am the one who fouled Rathburn, but I still think he charged. If he makes the foul shot, I am the goat!”

On the other side, was Ashville freshman Dave Roese. “I was just a freshman and Coach Gregg let me dress. I am sitting on the bench and probably saying this is game is over because Tommy (Rathburn) has hardly missed a foul shot all year.”

As it happened, Parker got a reprieve and maybe Dave jinxed the shot? Anyway, Rathburn missed, and he rarely missed any shot. The game goes to overtime.

The Braves jumped out to an overtime lead they wouldn’t relinquish and beat the Broncos 74-71.

The Herald credits the Logan Elm man-to-man press and depth to pulling away in overtime to win the game. The recap mentions the defense of Hicks, Horn, and Parker on Rathburn, holding him to 19 points.

The story also mentions the defense of Gary Hardman on Hollenback and the big overtime shots by Spangler, who led the Braves with 23. Clarke added 18 and Horn 12.

The Broncos were led by Dick Hollenback’s 26, Rathburn 19, and Roof had 12.

Amazingly, Logan Elm hit 31 field goals to Ashville’s 20. However, Ashville knocked down 31 of 40 foul shots to stay close.

If you read the account of this storied game, the Herald had an insert story in the middle of the game story. “Cage Excitement Too Much” read the headline. It seems a Mrs. Harold Horn, in the heat of the excitement, lost consciousness and had to be treated at the Granville hospital. Turns out Mrs. Horn was the mother of Logan Elm player Dave Horn, proving that back then and still today, that watching your child play a game can be harmful to your physical and mental well-being!

Logan Elm would go on to beat Ridgedale in the district finals and make the first of two consecutive trips to the Sweet 16.

Ashville would end a storied basketball history that included a Final Four, and a trip to the regional finals in 1960 with Rathburn as a sophomore and Bob Hoover as a senior.

As a final thought, Ashville ended its basketball history that night in Granville and Logan Elm began to write what would become a storied basketball history.

Also, the Pickaway County Tournament at the Fairgrounds ended that year also. Double-digit Pickaway County high schools playing on a tile floor in the coliseum and going to Noel’s Restaurant, across from Fairgrounds Coliseum, after the game to celebrate or commiserate. It was an exciting time and the beginning of bigger schools, new rivalries, and new places to eat after the game.

One thought on “The End of an Era and Beginning of a New One

  1. Great stories Greg. Really enjoy the memories of exciting sports contests in volving the county schools. Say you wouldn’t be related to the late Bill McGaffney would you? Lol

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