1973: A New Rivalry Begins; Another Rivalry Intensifies

By Greg Bigam

Special to SportingPumpkin.com

It has been 50 years, almost to the day.

Logan Elm and Circleville would play on the hardwood for the first time. Logan Elm had been playing basketball as a school since 1961. The Braves had a great rivalry with Westfall and played Teays Valley. Logan Elm had just moved up to Class AA but had yet to have a game against the school only five miles away.

In asking why, the story seems to be that the superintendents didn’t want to schedule a basketball meeting. Now in 1973, the schools found themselves in the same Groveport Sectional, along with Teays Valley.

Rumor has it that Circleville Superintendent Fritz Jacobs may have even requested the OHSAA that Logan Elm and Circleville be put in different sectionals for the tournament but, as it turned out, maybe he should have requested Teays Valley and the Tigers be at different sites).

The tournament draw proceeded with Logan Elm at 12-4, Circleville at 11-4, and Teays Valley at 11-5. Three solid teams.

Well guess who drew each other for the first game? The Tigers and Braves would play each other for the first time in 1973, and the winner would meet Teays Valley.

John Lawhorn was in his fourth season of building an excellent basketball program at a school full of football history. Chuck Pritchard continued his success as coach at Logan Elm.

The Braves featured one of the best guard tandems in school history with Tom Sykes and Tim Justice. Both could fill the basket. LE had Doug Marshall, Stew Jones, Marty Eveland, and Mike Holbrook to support the dynamic guard duo.

Circleville countered with inside scoring strength. Three-sport standout senior Dave Truex, senior Greg Hoskins (son of earlier Westfall coach Paul Hoskins) and center Dan Graham supplied the scoring. The Tigers added Robin Martin, Doug Radabaugh, Glenn Gillespie, and John Ankrom for support.

“It was quite a game and well played,” Truex recalled. “We had scrimmaged LE all summer. We knew each other and every move both teams had.”

“Well, we were close to each other and just so happens we showed up at each other’s open gyms all summer,” CHS coach John Lawhorn commented about the familiarity.

Circleville won the initial matchup 60-57. Bill McGaffney, the popular Circleville Herald Sports Editor, led his story with “ What was billed as a real donneybrook turned out to be just that. A rivalry begins.”

The Tigers led 29-25 at the half, and the game was 35-35 midway in the third quarter. Circleville built a late nine-point lead and the hung on to win 60-57.

As expected, the Tiger frontline led the winners. Hoskins had one of his best games with 24 points. Truex added 16 and Graham 14. Martin added 6. LE was again led by Sykes with 22, while Justice had 12. Marshall and Eveland scored 6 each and Jones added 5.

Two schools that were only five miles apart finally met because of the tournament. As McGaffney accurately predicted it would become a great rivalry. McGaffney describes a “boisterous crowd but a great game with sportsmanship and no problems”.

As mentioned earlier, the winner would meet Teays Valley in the Sectional Finals. Circleville had beaten the Vikings during the regular season. Tournament officials moved the game from Groveport to the Fairgrounds Coliseum because of the anticipated crowd.

As it turns out, the anticipated “problems” with LE and Circleville should have maybe been applied to a wild game in Columbus.

Truex described having his nose broken in the regular season matchup with Teays Valley.

“I caught an elbow, and told our team doctor Dr. Myers I was still playing. He said “ok, hold still,”. He put it back in place and said “don’t blow your nose,” Truex said.

The Vikings of Bob Hoover were big and featured one of the best Teays Valley guards of all time in Craig Pontious. Jim Logsdon and Jeff Anderson were tall forces inside. Add Jay Brinker, Jerry Sabine, and Terry Collins and Terry Lambert. TV was deep and gave Circleville a tough match up.

The Vikings shot lights out hitting 63 percent from the Coliseum floor. Pontious was great with a game-high 31 points. Four other Vikings hit double figures that day. Logsdon had 14, Brinker 13, Sabine 12, and Collins 10.

Hoskins had 16 and Truex only 12 but neither one got to finish the game. Graham led the Tigers with 21. Ankrom added 7 and Radabaugh 6.

As the Herald described in its recap, “Tempers flared in the fourth quarter and several Tigers were ejected. Teays Valley would win 91-70 and advance to District Play against Licking Valley.

“TV was a lot bigger than us,” Truex recalled. “We tried to be physical, and it was rough inside. However, the problem happened on a loose ball. Coach Lawhorn had a rule that if you didn’t get on the floor after a loose ball, you were coming out of the game.

“I went on the floor and Anderson jumped in too (probably not a good pairing). More players piled in.”

Truex remembers getting up and being told to leave the game.

“I had to walk through the tunnel under the TV fans. It was not very friendly, as I recall,” he said.

I think Hoskins may have commented and had to also leave. Eventually these two schools would become league foes, first in the South Central Ohio League and then until the end of next school year in the Mid-State League.

My final part of the story is being told with humor and my respect of Truex as a competitor.

“I have some of my best friends today who played at Teays Valley during that era. Also, I really enjoy then TV head coach Bob Hoover and our back and forth 50 years later, said Truex.”

Still the best ending to a county rivalry story. The Circleville bus is headed home from Columbus after the loss. The bus goes through South Bloomfield and as they pass, a couple of Teays Valley faithful are holding up a sign so the bus could see. The sign read, “We beat Truex!”

After passing the sign, Coach Lawhorn calls Truex to the front of the bus and tells Dave, “You know I love you, but you may be the most disliked player I have ever coached.”

Fifty years ago, Logan Elm and Circleville began a basketball rivalry and Teays Valley and Circleville intensified an early rivalry. The three weren’t in the same conference, but the tournament threw them together with a lot riding and a new exciting era of Pickaway County Basketball.

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