March Madness, 1911 style


By Rosemary Anderson - Plain City Times



The 1911 Plain City High School state champion basketball team. From left are: Coach John Nau, Ruby Bechtel, Clair Lewis, Fred Lambka, Howard Foust, and Everett Finch.


We tend to think of March Madness as a relatively modern phenomenon, but for Plain City, at least, it began 107 years ago.

The Plain City Advocate had a six-column format in those days, and for the issue of Thursday, March 2, 1911, the first two columns were devoted to the subject of “Basket Ball” (two words in the headline and the article that followed). Although the Plain City High School had just won the state basketball tournament, the lead article concerned the Plain City Cubs, a semi-pro team made up largely of former Plain City High players. Two-thirds of the first column was devoted to the game between the Cubs and the Newark YMCA team, which Newark ultimately won, 32-24.

There were no districts or divisions among high school teams in those days. The Advocate reported that 10 teams were entered in the tournament, which was held on a Friday and Saturday at Edwards gymnasium of Delaware High School, and went on to note that “the Ohio State Journal says the classy bunches were easily those that came from Plain City, Mansfield and Chagrin Falls.” On Friday night Plain City defeated West Milton 25-11 in the preliminaries.

In the Saturday morning semifinals Plain City beat Delaware 36-22. Mansfield defeated Chagrin Falls 33-30 “in which was considered the best game of the whole series.” Saturday afternoon in the final game Plain City defeated Mansfield 33-17.

The Advocate’s account of the game and the town’s reaction can scarcely be improved upon.

Athletic Director Page told the boys that their classy team work and close guarding were responsible in large measure for their victories. He also told them that the tournament this year was the best ever [this was the third annual state basketball tournament] and that the cup awarded them was fully the equal of any which the colleges awarded.

http://www.plaincity-advocate.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2018/03/web1_PlainCityHistoricalSocietylogobw-3.jpeg

The 1911 Plain City High School state champion basketball team. From left are: Coach John Nau, Ruby Bechtel, Clair Lewis, Fred Lambka, Howard Foust, and Everett Finch.
http://www.plaincity-advocate.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2018/03/web1_1911PCStateChampspicbw.jpegThe 1911 Plain City High School state champion basketball team. From left are: Coach John Nau, Ruby Bechtel, Clair Lewis, Fred Lambka, Howard Foust, and Everett Finch.

By Rosemary Anderson

Plain City Times

Rosemary Anderson is the vice president of the Plain City Historical Society.

Rosemary Anderson is the vice president of the Plain City Historical Society.

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