The Panthers’ rise
(Continued from last week)
York won it’s sixth straight and 21st win of the season in decisioning Ada 47–41 in the district opener.
In the hectic final minutes of play with the score knotted at 38–38, Larry Bowersox put the Panthers up by two. Ada tied it at 40 seconds later. Jerry Bogner put York up for good with a free throw, Hayward and Johnson stretched the lead to 45–40 with Hayward connecting on a tap-in.
Ada scored the final point on a free throw in the final seconds. York captured its second District title in four years with a 57–41 win over Lakeside. Hayward, Bogner and Rich Zieber were in double figures to lead the Panther attack. And for the second time in four years York made it to the regionals.
The Panthers squared off against Gomer in the opener. Paced by Bud Hayward’s 12 points and Jerry Bogner’s with six, York took a 21–11 lead at the end of the first period and hung on to win 54–47. With two minutes to go, York held a slim 50–46 lead.
Gomer’s Bruce Roberts and Dave Kesler made just one of five attempts from the free throw line, while holding the Panthers scoreless. Johnson’s tap-in with 22 ticks on the clock, at the :05 mark Jerry Bogner connected on two free throws, and the Panthers were in the regional finals for the first time.
The Panthers, only one game away from their first Class A state tournament appearance and in their first regional title game, squared off against Pettisville. The Blackbirds 20–5 shaded Western Reserve 71–63 then coached by Elvin “Ike” Ferres, a member of Bellevue’s “Whiz Kids,” the 1945 state basketball champions.
Gwin’s Panthers showed 2,300 fans at Shawnee High School in Lima, a display of team work, that was a York trademark. Two big periods sent York into the state finals as they tripped Pettisville 69–62. With all five starters clicking, the Panthers raced to a 19–7 lead at the first quarter break. The Blackbirds began mounting a comeback but York led at the intermission 34–23. Pettisville found the range in the third canto and outscored the Panthers 23–10 to take a 46–44 lead into the final frame.
The Blackbirds extended their lead by six at the out-set. Bogner’s two long bombs and Haywards lay-in on the end of a fast break tied it at 50–50, Richmond’s tap-in put the Panthers up by two, but the Blackbirds knotted the count at 52–52 at the halfway mark. Hayward, Zieber and Johnson scored to put the Panthers up 58–52 at the three-minute mark. A Pettisville score was countered by Zieber’s fast break lay-in and the Panthers were never headed.
Bob Gwin, coach, turned into Bob Gwin, athletic director, on Monday morning and began selling tickets to the state Class A finals at St. John’s arena in Columbus.
On Tuesday of that event-filled week, Gwin was given the highest honor a coach could earn. He was named Class A “Coach of the Year” by the Associated Press. In a four-year span (1960–64) Gwin posted a 81–12 record. His over-all 10-year record at York was 155–67. Another honor came to one of his players. sophomore sensation Gary Johnson was named All-Ohio, Honorable Mention.
The Tournament Trail, often called the Heartbreak Trail, ended when the Jackson Center Tigers eked out a 44–40 win. The Tigers put their best Foote (Marv) forward with two clutch free throws with :10 to give them a 42–38 lead. Bogner’s jumper narrowed the count 42–40 with six seconds left. The Tigers added two free throws at the buzzer.
The Panthers 24–3 record was the best ever by a York team.
A huge throng of area and local fans lined Belleuve’s Main St. to welcome the York Panthers on their return from the state tournament. The Bellevue Gazette headlined their story with — “York’s Panthers Told ‘You’re Our Cham-pions.’”
Mayor William C. Transue, in congratulating the team and their coaches, presented the key to the city to Coach Gwin. The parade included bands from Bellevue, Thompson and Townsend.
The York gym was packed to capacity by appreciative fans, school officials, York Township officials and a delegation of the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce. Each of the group’s representative heaped praises upon Gwin, his assistant and former Panther star Eddie Weller, and the Panther squad for their outstanding achievements.
(To be continued)
Bellevue Historian Bill Oddo writes a weekly column for The Bellevue Gazette.