Buckeye Trail pays homage to past, beats Monroe Central in PVC tilt


Buckeye Trail 54, Monroe Central 37
Friday was a night to celebrate “Warrior Pride” and this year’s Buckeye Trail boys’ basketball team did itself proud in front
of the home folks with a 54-37 victory over visiting Monroe Central in a Pioneer Valley Conference game. On a night when Trail brought back its 1977-78 squad — the
school’s first as a consolidation of old Madison and Zane Trace —
Trail picked up its fourth win.

OLD WASHINGTON — It was a night to celebrate “Warrior Pride” and this year’s edition of the Buckeye Trail boys’ basketball program did itself proud in front of the home folks with a 54-37 victory over visiting Monroe Central in Friday night’s Pioneer Valley Conference matchup.

On a night when Trail brought back its 1977-78 squad — the school’s first year as a consolidation of old Madison and Zane Trace — Trail picked up its fourth win of the season as four players reached double figures while the defense held Monroe Central to just eight total field goals.

“We talked about that a little bit,” veteran Trail coach Dave Linn said of playing in front of the 30-year group. “Those guys talked about the pride that they had in building the Buckeye Trail program and we wanted to show them that it’s still here. I think our guys did that tonight.”

Trail opened with an 11-8 first quarter lead, with seniors Nick Warnock and Brock Davis scoring four points each while junior Joe Collart tallied three. Monroe stayed close, however, despite a 2-of-10 shooting effort and eight turnovers thanks to a pair of three-point connections.

In round two, Warnock tallied six points while Davis and sophomore Bobby Beros each had five as the hosts increased their advantage to 29-20.

A 16-9 surge in the third chapter — featuring nine points from Collart — gave Trail full control of the game as the lead ballooned to 45-29 and the teams pretty much played out the string in the final frame.

Collart finished with a 16-point, seven-rebound game to lead the Warriors (4-5, 3-3 PVC). Warnock collected 15 points; Bobby Beros had 12 points and four rebounds; and Davis tallied 11 markers and had seven caroms.

“Joe did a nice job with post defense and he came around offensively and played pretty well,” Linn stated.

Despite sending Monroe Central to the line 29 times (making 19), Linn felt his team played well defensively as the Seminoles were just 8-of-35 (22.9 percent) from the field.

“Some games, they (officials) let you play and sometimes they don’t,” the BT coach commented, “and I know we have to be able to adjust to that.

“We took some things away from them and I thought defensively, our guys did a nice job,” Linn added.

Trail finished 18-of-40 from the floor (45 percent); had a 29-27 rebounding edge and was charted with 17 turnovers, five less than the visitors.

Senior Ryan Highman led Monroe Central (3-6, 3-4 PVC) with 10 points (all at the free throw line) and nine rebounds while junior Mikey Habig had 10 tallies and five caroms.

Despite the up-and-down first half record-wise, Linn sees good things ahead for his team.

“I think we’re going to continue to get better,” he offered. “We’ve got two sophomores and three juniors who are playing a bunch of minutes and I think the experience is starting to do us some good.”

Many schools undergo athletic “growing pains” in their first few years of consolidation.

Not so for the Buckeye Trail Warriors, who made an immediate splash in the high school sports world in their first year back in 1977-78.

When Zane Trace and Madison came together to form Buckeye Trail, the basketball program took off immediately and on Friday, the school paid homage to its first-ever team with a 15-minute ceremony prior to the Warriors’ game against Monroe Central.

Serving as master of ceremonies at the event was Gary Lucas, the long-time principal at Buckeye Trail who also served as the public address announcer.

In addition to recalling the school’s pride which took off right from the start, Lucas recalled that the first home game ever for the Warriors came again the Skyvue Golden Hawks at the old “Pillar Palace” gymnasium in Old Washington.

Head coach of the Warriors at the outset was the highly-successful Terry Leggett, who had been head coach at Zane Trace, with Kim Cunningham as his assistant coach.

Ironically, the coach at Madison at the time of the consolidation was none other than Dan Schwieterman, who then went on to Shenandoah High where he continues to coach and has amassed more than 400 career victories.

That first Trail boys’ team pulled off the unimaginable by ripping though a perfect 18-0 regular season, claiming the OVAC Class A championship and winning Class A sectional and district titles and advancing all the way to the regional finals before dropping a 43-42 heartbreaker to Indian Valley South at Marietta College to finish with a sparkling 21-1 overall record.

According to Leggett, his team wasn’t the only one having a “dream” season at the time as the boys’ junior varsity and seventh grade teams and the girls’ varsity teams also posted undefeated regular season marks in ’77-’78.

Of the 12 varsity players from the first squad, 10 were on hand for Friday’s event including Rick Spratt, Jay Heady, Brent Doutt, Dane Fairchild, John Lyons, Doug Bates, Jeff Cox, Danny Taylor, Brent Allen and Dan Burga. Only Fred Peterson and Ken Brothers were unable to attend.

“We had a lot of fun together,” Leggett said. “They set the tempo for the future of Buckeye Trail basketball.”

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