By Greg Bigam
Special to SportingPumpkin.com
Consolidations were completed in Pickaway County when Westfall participated in the 1964-65 school year.
Circleville was at that time the biggest school (Class AA) and was a long-time member of the South Central Ohio League. Teays Valley moved to Class AA (there were only two divisions back then) and became a member of the Metro Conference. Circleville and Teays Valley were part of the Central District.
That left Logan Elm and Westfall as Class A schools, in the same Central District sectional tournament and both members of the Scioto Valley Conference.
Teays Valley and Circleville would develop a rivalry but playing in different conferences it didn’t probably develop that quickly. Westfall and Logan Elm was the county rivalry that filled the gym twice every year and in the late sixties, culminated in meeting a third time in the sectional tournament.
Beginning in 1967, the Mustangs and Braves met three straight years in the Teays Valley hosted sectional tournament and the final score was never more than a three-point difference.
In 1966-67, Logan Elm and Westfall each had their original basketball coaches in Keith Merrin (LE) and Larry Wilson at Westfall. As it would turn out, both moved on to other schools after this season.
The Braves swept the season games 57-50 and 52-47. At that time, the schools played twice with the second game designated as the SVC conference game. Logan Elm was led by Coach Merrin’s brother Russ Merrin who was a senior.
The Braves also had Dale Jenne, senior Jim Morehead, and Tom Smith. Westfall had graduated their talented class of 1966, and played sophomores Tony Lightle and Ed Cornwell, Juniors Charles Palmer and Andy Hamman, and Denny Fletcher. Delbert Haney was the only senior starter along with Charlie Long.
The 1967 tournament looked on paper like a sure win for Logan Elm. The Braves were a top seed at 14-4 while Westfall came in at 5-13. Again, maybe it was that “third” time thing, but the Mustangs upset the Braves 47-44.
Merrin paced the Braves with 19, but Westfall slowed the pace and used the free throw line to pull off the win. Cornwell had 15 and Hamman 12 to lead Westfall.
In 1968, it was deja vu when the Mustangs and Braves split their two regular season games and met for the sectional championship. New coaches were on the benches as Chuck Pritchard headed LE, and Paul Hoskins had moved up from junior varsity coach to head Westfall.
The Braves were big inside with 6’ 8” Royce Woolever and 6’4” Dennis Karshner. Sophomore Dan Fausnaugh teamed up with Jenne at guard.
Westfall had returning seniors Andy Hamman and Charlie Palmer. Junior Gene Carfrey joined junior returners Tony Lightle and Eddie Cornwell.
Another nail biter to the wire, but Logan Elm would avenge the previous year’s upset by winning 45-43 and advancing to the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Columbus. Fausnaugh’s 12 and Woolever’s 11 led the win.
Hamman and Carfrey combined for 32 of Westfall’s 43 points.
The 1968-69 season would make it three years in a row for the Braves and Mustangs to meet in the sectional finals. The Mustangs won the first game of that regular season 66-59. Logan Elm came back to win the second meeting at Westfall 70-64 in overtime, which counted as the SVC game.
As a side note, I was told years later that our Westfall gym had the old furnace fired up at that second game in 1969. Seems there may have been a bit of gamesmanship in trying to “tire” out big Royce Woolever. As I recall, Woolever didn’t slow down a lot and you couldn’t move him with a bulldozer.
Again a packed TV gym and a trip to Columbus for the district was on the line as the Braves and Mustangs met again. The Braves had seniors Woolever , Karshner, and slick shooting junior Dan Fausnaugh back and added Dan Ankrom, Humphrey, and company.
Westfall had seniors Carfrey, Lightle, and Barnes and had added juniors Bill Blair and some guy named Greg Bigam.
Logan Elm went up 20-5 early. Bigam, the Mustangs leading scorer, had four first half fouls. The Braves still led 61-53 with five minutes left in the game. Westfall tied the game at 65-65. Logan Elm held the ball, but Westfall stole the ball and was fouled with just seconds remaining.
The Mustangs hit the front end of the one and one, missed the second and survived a final 20 foot shot by Fausnaugh to win 66-65.
The Braves had great balance with Ankrom 11, Karshner 14, Woolever 15, and Fausnaugh 20. Bigam’s 25 and Carfrey’s 20 led Westfall. Bob Barnes added 8 and Lightle 7 for the Scarlet and Gray.
Westfall would make it to the District Championship, losing a late 10-point lead to district winner Licking Valley aided by a “phantom technical” foul. (Another story for another day).
Three straight years the Braves and Mustangs fought it out in the SVC and then met a third time in the Class A sectionals. The tournament games were a three-point win, a two-point win, and one-point final.
I can’t remember a Logan Elm- Westfall game that wasn’t packed during the late sixties. Eventually, Logan Elm would leave the SVC in the early-1970s for the Mid-State League and the 1970 tournament saw a change in tournament sites with Westfall going to Lancaster.
There was another Logan Elm -Westfall match up down the road about 10 years later that was billed as the biggest yet. Both schools ranked in the top ten in the state….but that will be a future story.