DARKE COUNTY – This past year was full of big sports stories in Darke County. Here are 10 of 2015’s biggest sports stories:
1. Tri-Village boys basketball team wins state
The Tri-Village boys basketball team won the first state championship in school history by defeating Canal Winchester Harvest Prep 48-46 in the Division IV championship game. Senior Colton Linkous made the game-winning basket on a fade-away jumper with just 1.2 seconds left to complete the Patriots’ undefeated season.
2. Versailles girls basketball team wins state
A year after falling short in the championship game, the Versailles girls basketball team won the Division III state championship with a 49-46 win against Ottawa-Glandorf. Senior Taylor Winner blocked two shots in the final 13 seconds as the Lady Tigers hung on for the win.
3. Tri-Village starts a high school football program
Tri-Village added football to its high school sports offerings during a public announcement in January. The Patriots, under the direction of veteran coach Jason Schondelmyer, played a junior varsity schedule during their first season of high school football and in September recorded their first victory, a 55-12 win over Northridge.
4. Greenville boys basketball team wins GWOC North
For the first time in 60 years the Greenville boys basketball team won a league championship. The Green Wave won the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division with a 9-1 record. Junior Clay Guillozet was named the GWOC North boys basketball player of the year after leading the GWOC in scoring with 22.4 points per game, and Mike Bashore was named the GWOC North boys basketball coach of the year.
5. Clayton Murphy wins gold at Pan American Games
In the first international competition of his career Tri-Village graduate Clayton Murphy won gold in the 800 meter run with a time of 1:47.19 at the Pan American Games in Toronto. Murphy, who is a junior at the University of Akron, also went on to represent the United States in the 800 meter run at the International Association of Athletics Federations World Track and Field Championships in Beijing, China.
6. Kyle Ahrens competes in national dunk contest
Versailles’ Kyle Ahrens competed against some of the country’s best dunkers on national television in the American Family Insurance High School Slam Dunk Championship. Ahrens, who now is a freshman on the Michigan State basketball team, won an online vote to earn a spot in the competition at Carmel High School in Indiana.
7. Ally Russell named an all-American
Greenville senior Ally Russell was named a second team all-American by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, becoming the second player in Lady Wave history to earn all-American honors. Russell, who also was named a third team all-American in 2013, was one of just 48 players across the nation to receive the all-America honors. Russell, who now plays softball at Wright State, helped lead the Greenville softball team to a No. 1 ranking in the Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association poll and within one game of the state final four.
8. Soldier surprises sister
Private First Class Micah Donthnier surprised his sister, Greenville girls soccer player Moreah Donthnier, by returning home from Afghanistan prior to a Lady Wave soccer game in October. After both teams’ rosters were announced, Micah Donthnier walked on to the field for the Star Spangled Banner. His sister, who was standing at midfield, sprinted across the field and embraced her brother as the public address system announced his return home after seven months in Afghanistan with the United States Army.
9. Craig Stammen’s injury
Versailles alumnus Craig Stammen had his season cut short in April after he torn the flexor tendon in his right forearm, which required season-ending surgery to repair. It was the first time in Stammen’s seven-year Major League career that he had to go on the disabled list. Following the season the Washington Nationals declined to offer Stammen a contract, making the relief pitcher a free agent.
10. Eldora Speedway’s big year
There were numerous big stories at Eldora Speedway beginning with the death of Earl Baltes, the founder and longtime promoter of Eldora, at age 93 in March. Christopher Bell won the third annual NASCAR truck series race in Rossburg in July, and in November NASCAR announced it would continue the nationally televised NASCAR race in Rossburg through 2020.