Walnut Ridge and Fort Recovery meet in match-up of polar opposites and state ranked unbeatens

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2012 GOOD SAMARITAN FLYIN’ TO THE HOOP

Roll out the Red Carpet. The 2012 Good Samaritan Flyin to the Hoop showcase event
tips off this weekend at Kettering’s Trent Arena. Four days, 36 teams,
and 21 games. That’s enough avoidance for any wife to file for divorce.
And MVPhd is back to cover the most intriguing matchup between polar
opposites…


The year was 1971. A gallon of gas cost 40 cents. A postage stamp went for eight cents. Richard M. Nixon was President and 60% of Americans were against the Vietnam War. Busing, desegregation, and split sessions were school issues.
 
On March 27, Columbus Walnut Ridge captured the AAA state championship by dispatching Dayton Dunbar 76-63 at St. John’s Arena. It was the Scots first and only state basketball title. Under head coach Jack Moore (1988 Hall of Fame Inductee), Ridge finished the season 25-0.
 
That same day, Fort Recovery was crowned state champions in the A classification by dismantling Marion Pleasant 70-57. It was the Indians first and only state title. Recovery coach Al Souder and his troops finished with a 26-2 record.
 
Some 41 years later, Walnut Ridge and Fort Recovery cross paths, once again at the Good Samaritan Flyin to the Hoop in Dayton. The two tangle Saturday at 1:15 p.m. Both schools are newcomers to the 10th anniversary event.
 
Walnut Ridge stands tall at 8-0 and ranked 4th in the state in the D-I JJ Huddle Power Poll. Fort Recovery boasts an 8-0 record and is ranked 5th in the state in the D-IV JJ Huddle Power Poll. Ridge represents the Columbus City League and Recovery competes in the rural Midwest Athletic Conference.
 
Walnut Ridge is loaded with talent and depth. They operate with experienced guards and their bigs are long and athletic. The Scots average 70.2 ppg and allow 41.6 ppg.
 
JJ Huddle Basketball Analyst Kurt Stubbs said, “The Ridge may have its best team this year with enough talent to field two quality teams.”
 
Coach Jason Bates shuffles players in and out at a high frequency to feed his up-tempo demands. Seven players average 7.0 ppg or more with an 11-player rotation.
 
Three starters return from last season’s 18-5 record. Senior guards Fred Hardgrove and Adam McCall are the mayhem guys on defense and Roy Alexander is the leading scorer, averaging 12.6 ppg. Alexander is strong and athletic and can score inside or outside.
 
Hardgrove averages 10.2 ppg and McCall adds 9.5 ppg.
 
Allasane Kah (6-9, Sr) and Kai Turner (6-7, Sr) anchor the middle. Kah averages 7.1 ppg and 10.3 rpg. Turner is the chairman, averaging 10.9 rpg.
 
Newcomers Malik Dime (6-9, Sr) and Grant Harris (6-2, Sr) come off the bench. Dime scores 7.0 ppg and Harris, a transfer from Harvest Prep, averages 8.6 ppg. Last year, Harris averaged 19.3 ppg for the D-IV state runners-up.
 
Other key players are Isaiah Brooks (4.8 ppg) and Rob Wheelwright (8.3 ppg).
 
Bates is in his fourth season as coach and owns a 47-20 overall record. His team has progressed each year and the glory days of the 1971 season are back. His calling card is man-to-man defense. No doubt this squad has a nice blend of size, quickness, and athleticism.
 
“We have the opportunity to be a special team,” Bates told the Columbus Dispatch. “We need to stay hungry and make defense our top priority.”
 
Ridge plays D-III Africentric (8-1) Friday in an emotionally-charged matchup. Bates’ brother Michael is the head coach for Africentric. Quite a family. Leroy Bates, the father, coached Toledo Libby years ago.
 
What’s that saying, “Be careful what you wish for.” Fort Recovery coach Brian Patch and school principal Jeff Hobbs have been lobbying FTTH President and Founder Eric Horstman for the past two years for the opportunity to play in this event…Their wish was granted.
 
Fort Recovery is not as talented or as deep as Walnut Ridge, but surprised a lot of teams over the summer during various shootouts, including wins over D-I schools Upper Arlington, Newark, and Hilliard-Davidson. In addition, Wade Gelhaus sparked interest from college recruiters on the AAU circuit with Team CBIZ.
 
The 6-6 junior leads the Indians in scoring (20.1 ppg) and rebounding (10.5 rpg). Gelhaus can play any position on the floor. He is a great athlete with plenty of hops and creates tough matchups for opponents. Don’t be surprised if Alexander and Gelhaus are pitted against one another.
 
Patch said, “Wade can post, step outside, bring the ball down court. He is our go-to guy.”
 
Gelhaus has verbally committed to the University of Findlay, but offers are still coming in from Wright State, Belmont, and Davidson.
 
Patch said, “This team has the potential to be better than the 2010 team. No Greg Kahlig, but more weapons. As a whole, we play better defense.”
 
The Indians went 21-4 that season, only to lose to eventual state champs Dayton Jefferson 55-51 in overtime in the regional finals.
 
The other four starters are Elijah Kahlig (brother of Greg), Jared Kahlig (cousin), Jason Pottkotter, and Ben Dilworth.
Elijah is a 6-2 sophomore and averages 13.7 ppg with 2.3 steals. He shoots 53.6 % from three-point range. He also played for Team CBIZ.
 
“Elijah is more of a pure shooter than his brother. Greg was more of a scorer,” said Patch.
 
Jared is a 6-5 senior and averages 11.7 ppg and shoots 72 % from the foul line. Long time Capital University coach Damon Goodwin is pursuing Jared Kahlig.
 
“Jared guards the best offensive player,” Patch said. “He is a lot like Wade. He can handle the ball and play any position and create his own shot.”
 
Pottkotter is a 6-2 senior averaging 10.5 ppg and shoots 61 % from the field and 70 % from the foul line.
 
Only a sophomore, Dilworth rounds out the starting five. He is a strong rebounder and has a nice pull-up jumper.
 
Sophomores Alex Kaiser and Kent Retz are the sparks off the bench along with Derek Gaerke.
 
Patch, in his ninth season, utilizes a 7-8 player rotation. The Indians run a five-man motion offense with a lot of inside/outside action.
 
“We really don’t have a point guard, ” Patch said. “All our players can handle the ball, play any position, shoot outside or post.”
 
The Indians average 60 ppg and allow 37 ppg. They play a pressing, man-to-man defense and like to push the ball, but are disciplined to play a half-court game, if necessary.
 
Like Ridge, Recovery has a trap game Friday against 3-5 Coldwater.
 
Keys to the Game: In order for Fort Recovery to win, they can’t get into foul trouble with a seven-player rotation. And they need to dictate the tempo, play at their pace. Settle the nerves, get off to quick start, commit fewest turnovers, and don’t get dominated on the boards. Also, be able to weather ballistic scoring runs. That’s it.
 
In order for Walnut Ridge to win, the Scots need to go out and play their game, dictate the tempo, relax and have fun. The score should take care of its self.
 
And so, regardless of the outcome, this should be one fascinating and intriguing matchup. Only at the FTTH extravaganza. Only on MVPhd.

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