1961 Elyria High Basketball

Inducted 2007

1961 Elyria High Basketball

THE 1961 PIONEERS: (From Top Clockwise) Rick Coven (32), Ron Korka (50), Bill Jackson (40), Dick Roberts (22), Jim Garbash (14), Steve Hays (20), Lee Johnson (44), Fred Bernstein (12), Dave Dicken (30), Rick Brecklebaum (42), Bob Clark (34), Ken Dick (24).

Legendary coach Dale Reichenbach built Elyria High into a basketball hotbed in the late 1950s and 1960s. Over the course of 10 years from 1957 through 1966, Elyria won the big school district championship nine times – including an unprecedented eight straight but it was the 1961 team that came closest to taking all the marbles. The Pioneers hadn’t even won their own league as they finished second behind Sandusky.

However, led by Elyria’s first All-Ohio basketball player – Lee Johnson – the Pioneers (20-6) caught fire late in the year – beating Clearview, 84-31, Elyria Catholic, 54-20, and Lorain, 65-35, in sectional tournament play. The Pioneers then avenged one of their regular season losses by defeating Lakewood, 52-49, in the District semi-finals at Baldwin-Wallace before eliminating highly-favored West Tech, 56-47, to qualify for the Toledo Regional.

In the semi-final at Toledo against Lima Senior, Johnson hit one of his patented turn-around jump shots to win the game, 44-42, in sudden death overtime – the final sudden death game ever played in the state of Ohio. The Pioneers drilled Toledo Libbey, 68-51, the next night to qualify EHS for it’s first-ever appearance in the state tournament.

Elyria lost the semi-final game, 54-52, to eventual state champion Portsmouth. Johnson (409 points), Rick Coven (330) and Ken Dick (276) were the high scorers on the team. Jim Garbash (236 points), Steve Hays, Bill Jackson and Dick Roberts were other major contributors to the success of the team. Johnson was said to be Reichenbach’s pet project from his freshman year on – turning him into a great scorer and rebounder. Garbash, ironically, hadn’t played varsity basketball all through high school until he was invited to try out for the team for his senior season. The year before, Reichenbach suggested he play in the local YMCA league to hone his skills to become the point guard on the state-bound team.

Elyria High School Pioneers 1960-61 Basketball
Head Coach: Dale Reichenbach      Assistant Coach: Bob Hersman
# Player G FG FT TP High AVE
50-51 Ron Korka 4 6 4 16 8 4.0
12-13 Fred Bernstein 9 10 23 43 14 4.8
14-15 Jim Garbash 26 89 58 236 19 9.1
20-21 Steve Hays 20 16 21 53 9 2.7
22-23 Dick Roberts 14 24 15 63 10 4.5
24-25 Ken Dick 25 106 64 276 21 11.0
30-31 Dave Dicken 5 3 6 12 3 2.4
32-33 Rick Coven 26 136 58 330 25 12.7
34-35 Bob Clark 10 16 1 33 8 3.3
40-41 Bill Jackson 16 26 14 66 15 4.1
42-43 Rick Brecklebaum 2 1 3 6 4 2.5
44-45 Lee Johnson 26 160 89 409 29 15.7
10-11 Bob VanValkenburg 0 0 0 0 0 0.0
52-53 Bill Masonis 1 0 1 1 1 1.0
Marty Frankiewicz 0 0 0 0 0 0.0

1960-61 Schedule and Results  (20-6)

Date Opponent Result Record Leading Scorers
Nov.25 North Olmsted 56-50 (1-0) Dick 14, Johnson 10, Jackson 10, Roberts 10
Dec 2 Lakewood 71-72 (1-1) Johnson 25, Garbash 17, Jackson 15
Dec 9 Massillon 59-36 (2-1) Dick 20, Garbash 12, Johnson 10
Dec10 at Berea 57-47 (3-1) Coven 21, Garbash 11, Dick 10
Dec16 at Findlay* 62-48 (4-1, 1-0) Johnson 26, Coven 10
Dec 22 at Fremont Ross* 61-24 (5-1, 2-0) Coven 18, Dick 13, Garbash 11
Dec30 Lorain* 39-38 (6-1, 3-0) Johnson 15
Jan 6 Sandusky* 54-56(SDOT) (6-2, 3-1) Johnson 29, Roberts 10
Jan 13 at Marion Harding* 57-74 (6-3, 3-2) Johnson 13, Coven 10
Jan 20 Findlay* 69-48 (7-3, 4-2) Johnson 23, Coven 14, Dick 14
Jan 21 Canton Lincoln 53-61 (7-4) Johnson 15, Dick 14, Coven 13
Jan 27 Fremont Ross* 71-49 (8-4, 5-2) Johnson 26, Bernstein 14, Garbash 10, Dick 10
Jan 28 at Mansfield 56-50 (9-4) Dick 19, Coven 14, Garbash 11
Feb 3 at Lorain* 66-46 (10-4,6-2) Coven 22, Dick 13, Johnson 10
Feb 4 Toledo Libbey 63-51 (11-4) Dick 21, Johnson 18
Feb 10 at Sandusky* 33-47 (11-5,6-3) Johnson 11
Feb 11 Ashland 83-48 (12-5) Coven 25, Garbash 19, Johnson 12
Feb 17 Marion Harding* 58-54 (13-5,7-3) Johnson 20, Coven 13, Garbash 11
Elyria Sectional Tournament
Feb 24 Clearview 84-31 (14-5) Johnson 19, Coven 17, Dick 12
Feb 28 Elyria Catholic 54-20 (15-5) Johnson 16, Garbash 11, Coven 10
Mar 3 Lorain 65-35 (16-5) Dick 17, Johnson 17, Coven 16
Berea District at Baldwin-Wallace
Mar 8 Lakewood 52-49 (17-5) Coven 18, Garbash 14, Johnson 12
Mar 12 West Tech 56-47 (18-5) Dick 17, Coven 14, Johnson 11, Garbash 11
Toledo Regional at Toledo University
Mar 17 Lima Senior 44-42(SDOT) (19-5) Johnson 18, Coven 13
Mar 18 Toledo Libbey 68-51 (20-5) Coven 22, Dick 18, Johnson 12, Garbash 12
State Tournament at Columbus (St. Johns Arena–Ohio State)
Mar 24 Portsmouth 52-54 (20-6) Johnson 17, Coven 13, Garbash 11

Buckeye Conference Standings: Sandusky 8-2, ELYRIA 7-3, Marion 7-3, Lorain 5-5, Findlay 2-8, Fremont 1-9.

In 1961, Elyria made its first state tournament appearance since 1936 when it was a 16-team tournament. Also of note, Lee Johnson’s basket in sudden death to beat Lima at the Toledo Regional, was the last time the sudden death rule came into play. The following year, the overtime sessions were not decided by sudden death.