NEW MADISON – Tri-Village honored its community’s basketball history prior to its game against Northridge by recognizing the 1954 state final four Westmont Wildcats boys basketball team.
Westmont was a combination of the Hollansburg and Palestine communities prior to the consolation with New Madison that formed Tri-Village Schools.
The 1954 Westmont Wildcats were the Darke County champs, district champs, regional champs and reached the final four of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Class B state tournament at Cleveland Arena. The Wildcats lost 71-62 in the state semifinals to the eventual state champs from New Lexington St. Aloysius.
During the regular season Westmont went 17-1 that year with its lone loss coming to Newton by just 2 points, finishing the season 26-2 overall.
“Some of my earliest basketball memories and some of yours might include going to Westmont or New Madison basketball games with your parents,” Niles Richards from the Tri-Village Hall of Fame committee said. “Both schools played in gyms that were small, always full and loud. You could smell the popcorn and almost feel the electricity in the air. We played basketball in the hallways with wadded up paper for balls, shooting into trash cans until the janitors ran us back into the gym.”
People representing the 1954 Westmont boys basketball team attended the ceremony including players and their family members. Lowell Brinley, Jim Deeter, James Denlinger, Ralph Hurd, Duane “Bucky” Moore, Robert Prether, Duane Richards, Verl Sharp and Bill Wilson were team members in attendance. Karla Garrison Spitler, the daughter of Kenneth Garrison; Darren Hiatt, the son of Richard Hiatt; Barb Dotson Gunkle, the step-daughter of Jack Holland; Rod Hyre and Greg Hyre, the sons of Jerry Hyre; Tom Richards, the brother of Garry Richards; JoAnne Richards Stocksdale, the wife of Jack Richards; Barb Wilcox, the wife of Carroll “Butch” Wilcox; and Roger Harter, the nephew of Coach Glenn Harter also were in attendance.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.