PERFECTION: Remembering Badin’s 28-0 boys basketball season of 1987-88

1:13 p.m Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017 Journal-News Sports
Badin’s Jon Webster (front) celebrates with his teammates after the Rams defeated Zoarville Tuscarawas Valley 68-63 to win the Division III state championship March 26, 1988, at St. John Arena in Columbus. COX MEDIA FILE PHOTO

Gerry Weisgerber remembers a whole lot about Badin High School’s perfect boys basketball season in 1987-88. But some things are admittedly a bit fuzzy.

The Rams went 28-0 that year and won the Division III state championship under Weisgerber’s direction. On Friday night, Badin will honor that team between the junior varsity and varsity games against Purcell Marian at Mulcahey Gym.

Weisgerber will be there, but he’ll be busy. He’s in the midst of his second stint as the Rams’ head coach.

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“I do remember that we were undefeated and won the state,” Weisgerber said with a smile. “It brought back some memories when the invitation was sent out with the schedule of games we played. We were in the 90s a couple games. I couldn’t remember that we scored that many points.

“We didn’t press. We picked up people halfcourt in our man defense. But offensively, they just ran that motion offense to perfection. We didn’t shoot that many 3s, but we had all kinds of people that could score.

John Brinck, a 1988 Badin High School graduate, talks about the Rams’ 28-0 boys basketball season and Division III state championship in 1987-88.

“It’s good to see that a lot of the guys are going to be able to come back. I’ve seen so many of them anyway because they’re still around, but it’ll be good to see the group together again.”

The 30-year anniversary celebration will honor a 12-member squad that was comprised of eight seniors (John Brinck, Sid Imhoff, Kevin Keene, Ed Larkin, Kevin McGuff, Doug Rosmarin, Matt Thompson, Jon Webster), three juniors (Tony Brown, Ken Horner, John Richter) and one sophomore (Dan Richter).

Weisgerber’s assistant coaches were Fred Hesse and Jim Weislogel.

The 1986-87 season ended with a 50-38 loss to Dixie in a sectional final. The Rams finished 19-4, yet still had plenty of motivation heading into the following campaign.

“We played together all the time,” Brinck said. “We would go to different schools, and we would all be on the same team. Hamilton High would come over to Badin High School and play summer basketball. Our Sunday nights when we played open gym were probably some of the best games that Butler County ever saw, and nobody got to see ’em.

“We didn’t come in the gym and do individual workouts. We didn’t hit the weight room real hard. But we took conditioning real seriously, and when we played, we played seriously. We played the same way on Friday night as we played on a Wednesday night in the summer.”

How difficult is it to be a perfect state champion? Only 11 boys programs in Ohio have accomplished that feat since Badin did it in 1988. They are:

• 1995 — Zanesville, Division I, 26-0; Findlay Liberty-Benton, Division IV, 27-0

• 1997 — Van Wert Lincolnview, Division IV, 27-0

• 1999 — Bedford St. Peter Chanel, Division III, 26-0

• 2000 — Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, Division III, 27-0

• 2005 — Upper Sandusky, Division II, 27-0

• 2007 — Georgetown, Division IV, 28-0

• 2008 — New Knoxville, Division IV, 27-0

• 2012 — Dayton Dunbar, Division II, 28-0

• 2014 — Convoy Crestview, Division IV, 29-0

• 2015 — New Madison Tri-Village, Division IV, 30-0

Badin’s road to perfection had a rocky beginning. As freshmen, the Rams’ record was 5-9.

“I tell the kids that I have coached that when I was a freshman, I was 18-for-51 from the free-throw line, 36 percent, and I couldn’t catch a ball and walk and chew gum,” Brinck said. “Coach Hesse told me that every day.

“Freshman year, all we had to do was learn how to play. We just learned how to play all year — drills, offensive ideas, fundamentals. We got exponentially better each year because we had such a good foundation freshman year.”

Brinck hasn’t left the area. He’s an eighth-grade history teacher and a seventh-grade basketball coach at Talawanda Middle School.

Thompson has remained as well. He was Badin’s head coach for three seasons and works as the facilities director at the school.

“I feel blessed that I played when I did, with the guys I did and for whom I did,” said Thompson, who attended Ross schools through the eighth grade. “We competed every time we played, whether it was in a driveway or in an open gym or in a game. They were my best friends then … they’re still my best friends. Everybody in that group has moved on to be successful in their chosen field, which is no surprise to me. Those guys like to succeed.”

McGuff has followed a winding road coaching women’s basketball at the collegiate level. He was an assistant for three years at Miami and six years at Notre Dame before making head coaching stops at Xavier (nine years), Washington (two years) and Ohio State.

He’s in his fifth season at the OSU helm and has the Buckeyes among the top teams in the country, but McGuff said he clearly and fondly remembers his days as a Badin Ram.

The 1987-88 Badin High School boys basketball team

“It was certainly a special time in my life,” McGuff said. “The thing I think about the most is the camaraderie. We had really great teammates, so for us to be able to accomplish something so special with the right type of kids in the program was really fun to do.”

He said the principles he learned at Badin followed him as a player at St. Joseph’s (Ind.) and into his coaching career.

“The same lessons apply,” McGuff said. “It’s teamwork. It’s commitment to team. It’s execution. It’s committing to getting better. It’s team chemistry. It’s really kind of cool to think back in that regard and say, ‘Hey, many of the things I emphasize now, we were doing back then.’ ”

There were countless memorable moments surrounding this team and its championship drive in 1988. The following is a list of related facts, figures and some opinions:

1. Badin scored 73.4 points per game and gave up an average of 53.5.

2. Weisgerber said five players from the 1987-88 squad went on to play college basketball: McGuff at St. Joseph’s, John Richter at Dayton, Brinck at Wittenberg, Horner at DePauw and Dan Richter at Florida Tech.

3. McGuff fired in 40 points during an 83-60 victory over Fenwick in Game 10. Mike Holweger scored 35 for the Falcons.

Badin coach Gerry Weisgerber watches intently as his Rams face Springfield Catholic Central in a Division III regional final March 19, 1988, at the University of Dayton Arena. Badin won 51-48 in overtime to advance to the Final Four. Watching from the bench (from left) are John Brinck, Ken Horner and Dan Richter. COX MEDIA FILE PHOTO

4. The Rams rallied from an 8-point deficit to defeat visiting Moeller 69-64 in overtime in Game 11. It was the 100th win of Weisgerber’s coaching career (he’s now 286-158 in 20 years at Badin).

Brinck sat out the entire first half with an ankle injury. He limited 6-foot-8 Moeller senior Craig Hodges to 8 points in the second half and OT after Hodges tallied 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting in the opening half.

“I was only 75 percent,” Brinck said. “I remember my mom yelling at Coach Weisgerber on the stage because I was playing, and she wanted him to get me out. I’m saying to her, ‘Sit down, I’m playing.’

“For me, Moeller was the turning point. I’m thinking, ‘We’re pretty good. I don’t see anybody beating us.’ ”

5. Two teams tried to play stall ball against Badin that season, Norwood (50-33 in Game 14) and Hughes (50-38 in Game 19).

6. The Rams rolled past Madison 85-52 in the second round of the tournament. It was the last of eight games at the University of Dayton Arena that day. The game tipped off at 11:15 p.m. and finished at 12:40 a.m.

7. The regional final was perhaps the most memorable game of the season, with Badin overcoming an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat Springfield Catholic Central 51-48 in overtime and gain its first Final Four berth.

Neither team played great basketball, but the game was intense, physical and proved to be a thriller.

Maurice Houston hit a short jumper in the lane with seven seconds left in regulation to give the Irish a 44-42 lead. The Rams had to go the length of the court and caught a break when Brinck’s inbound pass was knocked out of bounds near midcourt by Charlie McFarland, who later played with Brinck at Wittenberg.

Badin’s Matt Thompson takes his turn at cutting down the net after the Rams defeated McNicholas 82-50 in a Division III district final March 9, 1988, at the University of Dayton Arena. COX MEDIA FILE PHOTO

“The idea was to throw it to halfcourt and call a timeout because we had two timeouts left,” Brinck said. “After McFarland tipped it out of bounds, we called a timeout and ran a play that we had run several times. Matt Thompson was going to set a screen, John Richter’s going to set a screen, and Kevin’s going to curl around the baseline, catch the ball on the wing and make a play. That’s exactly what happened.

“Kevin caught the ball on the left wing, did a little half shot fake, took two hard dribbles into the lane and just raised up and shot a little swish. Kevin was so good at contorting his body. His lower body could be everywhere, but his upper body was always square.

“I’ve still got it on DVD. I watch it every now and then. I just watch it to see how fashionable our uniforms were back then.”

McGuff’s 10-footer with two seconds left sent the contest into OT. The rest, of course, is history.

“Looking back on it, I was just trying to make a shot,” McGuff said. “The magnitude of what the situation was … those are the type of things that kind of dawn on you later. I think it was the right execution on the team’s part to run the right play. Fortunately, the ball went in.”

Thompson had a great view of McGuff’s game-tying shot. He was getting himself in position to tip in a rebound if necessary.

“I always went to the basket because it wasn’t coming back to me for a shot,” Thompson said. “When it went to McGuff, Richter or Brinck, there was no reason to throw it back to Thompson. So I got in rebounding position.”

Weisgerber isn’t known for being consistently animated on the sideline. But he was that day.

“Well, that was the game to get us into the Final Four,” Weisgerber said. “I want to thank the Springfield Catholic kid for trying to steal the ball and knocking it out of bounds for us. That allowed us to run the last play.”

Badin’s Kevin McGuff cuts between Springfield Catholic Central’s Chris Kestner (42) and Maurice Houston (12) on March 19, 1988, during the Rams’ 51-48 overtime victory in a Division III regional final at the University of Dayton Arena. COX MEDIA FILE PHOTO

8. Badin wasn’t at the top of its game at the state tournament either, but defeated Sparta Highland 67-43 in a semifinal and then beat Zoarville Tuscarawas Valley 68-63 to win the title at St. John Arena in Columbus.

The Rams routed Highland with a 21-3 fourth quarter. Against Tusky Valley, Badin earned a 21-8 advantage over the last five minutes and turned in a record-setting 37-of-48 effort at the foul line. Brinck was 11 of 12, McGuff was 9 of 10 and John Richter was 11 of 15 from the charity stripe.

McGuff, who was 8 of 8 at the line against Highland, was quoted after the title game saying, “You just get up there and think knock ’em down. That’s all you can do is try to knock ’em down. If you’ve practiced enough, they’ll go in.”

Reminded of that quote this week, McGuff replied, “That’s right. That’s exactly it.”

Brinck’s two free throws with 0:07 remaining clinched the win. He stole a pass at the defensive end and was heading the other way for a layup when he was intentionally fouled by Steve Franks.

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“I can remember we sat in the stands watching Tusky Valley play,” Brinck said. “I’m sitting right next to Coach Weisgerber, and he looks at me and says, ‘That point guard, every time he comes down the lane, will jump in the air and do a look-away pass.’ Sure enough, that’s the steal I get to win the game.

“My dad even asked me when the game was over, ‘How’d you know he was going to throw that pass?’ Because Coach Weisgerber told me he would. We had great coaches. We had guys that put us in positions to win. Weisgerber doesn’t get enough credit for that because nobody knows it. He’s the reason I got that steal.”

9. Webster, a 6-4 center, played a major role off the bench at the state tournament. Thompson went to Columbus with flu and back problems and only played 10 minutes in the semifinal. He twisted his ankle early in the championship game and played just nine minutes.

Webster, who spent three years at Badin after growing up in suburban Columbus, scored 10 points against Highland. He added seven points and a game-high nine rebounds in 28 minutes against Tusky Valley.

“I still have that bad back,” Thompson said. “Jon Webster came in for me and did a tremendous job. I just wanted to win. More important than me playing was us winning.”

Badin’s John Richter (25) battles Sparta Highland’s Tom Casteel during a Division III state semifinal on March 24, 1988, at St. John Arena in Columbus. Richter scored 18 points in the Rams’ 67-43 victory. COX MEDIA FILE PHOTO

Thompson was a role player for the Rams. Setting screens, rebounding and defense were his jobs.

“That’s all they needed me to do, and I did it to the best of my ability,” Thompson said. “I was perfectly OK with that. If I tried to do more than that, we wouldn’t have won all those games, pure and simple. Those dudes did their job. I did my job.”

He took a critical charge late in the win over Springfield Catholic.

“Maurice Houston stole the ball,” Thompson said. “I’m getting back, and he’s attacking the rim for a layup. I understand that if this comes down to athleticism, he’s going to score and I’m going to put him on the line. I figured, ‘I only have one shot at this. I’m going to take a charge.’ So I took a charge. I’ll never forget laying on my back at UD staring at the lights waiting to hear which side cheered. Our side cheered, I knew it was a charage, and we got the ball back.”

10. Rituals are part of all sports. They were part of Badin’s unbeaten season as well.

“I always had a Snickers bar before the game. For whatever reason, it was some superstition,” Brinck said. “I would go get a Snickers bar like at halftime of the JV game and eat it, and I’d go down and get ready and have a good game. And the word got out.

“So when we left for state. I think I must’ve had 30 or 40 Snickers bars that parents were giving me because they weren’t sure I was going to get one in Columbus. I can remember getting care packages of Snickers bars. Another little quirk was that I had to crack everybody’s back before the game. I was team chiropractor. And I wouldn’t take my pants off until the game started. Stupid, I know. But we were wearing short shorts back then, so maybe that was a good thing.”

Badin’s John Brinck (left) and Ed Larkin celebrate March 26, 1988, after the Rams captured the Division III state championship with a 68-63 victory over Zoarville Tuscarawas Valley at St. John Arena in Columbus. COX MEDIA FILE PHOTO
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