Saturday, May 5th, 2018

St. Henry title teams to be honored

By Gary R. Rasberry
Submitted Photo

The 1990, pictured, and 1991 St. Henry state championship boys basketball teams will be inducted this evening into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in Columbus. The Redskins went 53-2 during the two-year stretch and won state titles in Division III in 1990 and Division IV in 1991. Photos provided by St. Henry High School.

When Fran Guilbault was asked to recommend one of the three state championship teams he coached at St. Henry to be inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame, the longtime coach couldn't do it.
"Those were about the three best teams to have played in Columbus," Guilbault said, referring to the Redskins' 1979, 1990 and 1991 state championship teams. "No way was I going to pick."
In the end, the board chose the 1990 Division III and 1991 Division IV state championship teams for induction during tonight's ceremony at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus.
"That was the same team both those years, so they decided to induct both," Guilbault said. "That's good for the kids."   
"None of us would have thought, when we started playing together, that we would end in the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame," said Bob Hoying, a starting guard on the 1990 and 1991 title teams. "We're all in our mid-40s. For this to happen at this time is a very special moment for all us."
The teams went a combined 51-2 during the run. Van Wert provided the only losses on the Redskins' record. The teams' talent level made for some dominating contests during the two years.
"I probably did less coaching in those two years than in the other years I coached," said Guilbault, who was inducted into the hall in 2013 for his 38 years and 625 wins at St. Henry. "We had so much talent."
While the players made it look easy on Friday and Saturday nights, practices during the week were intense.
"We had a lot of up-tempo practices. A lot of full-court pressing," said Hoying. "A lot of running at practice. I think it all paid off because we scored a lot of points in games. I think the game has changed a lot over the years, but I thought one of his best strengths was letting us go out and play together."
"It was pretty much like a game-night atmosphere," said Kevin Niekamp, who also started on both title teams. "As soon as we walked into the gym, we'd set up a zone-press for the first 15-20 minutes. It was up-and-down, scrimmaging and pressing with a lot of condition. We worked a lot on game situations and not much on fundamentals other than shooting. Shooting was a big part of the practices. It seemed more like scrimmages than practices."
One key to success was the fact that the players were tight-knit on and off the court and had been playing basketball together going back to elementary school.
"We were really good friends all the way through," said Terry Niekamp, Kevin's older brother and a starting forward on the 1990 state title team. "We were playing for each other and picking each other up, just all those things you need to be special."
The team proved to be unselfish, especially the 1991 team on which senior starters Kevin Niekamp, Scott Brunswick, Hoying and Scott Heitkamp each averaged double figures and junior forward Tony Glass was close to the mark.
"We were all very unselfish with the ball," Hoying said. "It was good ingredients and you put a hall of fame coach at the head of those groups of guys, we had two state championships and some great experiences."
Guilbault talked about remembering the bench more than the starters. The reserves featured players who could have started at any other school. Players such as Josh Link, Brad Beyke, Rob Beyke, Bryan Homan, provided the starters with plenty of challenges during intrasquad games at practices.
"I wanted to have the five best players on the floor all the time, so at the end they would get in," Guilbault said of the bench. "They really helped those teams by battling in practices and entertaining the fans during the games."
"If you take our five (starters) out and put those five in, they would have definitely competed and possibly won the MAC that year," Kevin Niekamp said."That made us better players."
Terry Niekamp noted that intrasquad scrimmages had the feel of big Friday night contests.
"We're all competitive and wanted to beat each other in a good way," said Terry Niekamp. "We competed to have fun."
"They're a fun bunch and were close knit," Guilbault said. "They backed one another. They had a lot of fun."
Hoying had praise for Guilbault's guidance.
"Coach Guilbault coached my dad (at St. Henry), so I knew him growing up," Hoying said. "All of us did. To get to play for a hall of fame coach is something that, at the time, some of us took for granted. … One of his best strengths was he let us go out and play together. We didn't have a lot of specific offensive sets to get guys the ball. To allow us the freedom to play together really made the difference for us."
Being inducted into the hall of fame will be:
1990 team members: Denny Lefeld, Scott Brunswick, Jeff Hartings, Scott Heitkamp, Rob Beyke, Scott Gels, Josh Link, Tony Glass, Kevin Niekamp, Terry Niekamp, Pat Droesch and Bob Hoying.
1991 team members: Greg Bruns, Brad Beyke, Steve Gels, Bryan Homan, Rob Beyke, Kevin Niekamp, Hoying, Brunswick, Glass, Heitkamp, Link. Head coach Fran Guilbault and assistant coach Al Summers.

Wolf to be honored with Ashland team:
The 2013 Ashland University women's basketball team that finished 37-1 and the NCAA Division II national champion will also be inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame.
Minster High School graduate Delanie Wolf was a sophomore on the Eagles' team that season, averaging 3.4 minutes in 19 games that season and scoring 1.4 points per game.
Submitted Photo

The 1991, pictured, and 1990 St. Henry state championship boys basketball teams will be inducted this evening into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in Columbus. The Redskins went 53-2 during the two-year stretch and won state titles in Division III in 1990 and Division IV in 1991. Photos provided by St. Henry High School.

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