Boys high school basketball teams from Butler County have won 16 state championships, but none since Hamilton in 2004. No Butler County team advanced to this week’s state tournament games in Columbus.
Middletown High has won seven state titles, but the last came 62 years ago in 1957. The Middies won championships in 1944, 1946, 1947, 1952, 1953, 1956 and 1957. The 1944-1945 team was undefeated until losing, 36-34, to Bellevue in the championship game at the University of Toledo Fieldhouse.
More than a decade later, the Middies, led by Jerry Lucas, won back-to-back state titles in 1956-57, before losing the 1958 state championship game, ending their state-record 76-game winning streak.
The Middies’ seven state championships are tied with Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph and St. Vincent-St. Mary for the most in Ohio history.
Middletown’s Coach Paul Walker won 562 games and lost 136 during his 30-year career for the Middies.
He is a member of the National High School Sports Hall of Fame (1986) and the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame (2006). He also was named the National High School Coach of the Year in 1974.
From 1937 to 1954, a span of 18 seasons, Middletown or Hamilton combined to win the state 10 times.
Hamilton has won four state championships: 1937, 1949, 1954 and 2004.
In the 1937 Class A title game against Massillon Washington, which was then coached by the legendary Paul Brown, the Big Blue overcame a six-point halftime deficit and won 37-32, giving the school its first state basketball championship.
In 1949, Hamilton whipped Toledo Central, 70-52. At the time Hamilton’s 70 points was a record for a state championship game.
In 1954 the Big Blue defeated Columbus South, 66-56, to earn the school’s third state title.
Hamilton won its fourth state title in 2004 when it beat Toledo St. John Jesuit, 51-48.
Hamilton Taft won the state in 1962, Hamilton Ross won its first state title in any sport in 1980, Middletown Fenwick, coached by the legendary John “Butch” Rossi, won it in 1982, Hamilton Badin completed a perfect season by winning the 1988 state championship and Lakota won the 1992 title.
The Ross Rams, led by a nine-member senior class that included Tim Burns, John Reinhardt and Associated Press Class AA third-team all-state guard Randy Smith, edged Portsmouth, 45-44, on a Reinhardt layup with nine seconds left to clinch the school’s first state championship in any sport. The Rams were coached by Ron Chasteen.
Rossi delivered Fenwick’s only boys basketball title. Over the course of 31 season, he led Fenwick to a record of 402-282. His teams were regional runners-up three times and won seven district titles, in addition to the 1982 state championship. In 1985 he was named the Class A Coach of the Year.
The Badin Rams went 28-0 in 1988 and won the Division III state championship under Gerry Weisgerber’s direction.
Lakota won its only boys basketball championship by outlasting a Lima Senior team led by two-time Ohio Associated Press Mr. Basketball Greg Simpson in an 88-86 overtime win at Ohio State University’s St. John Arena.
Lakota lost to Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph, 76-72 in OT in the previous season’s state championship game.
Butler County boys basketball state champions
Middletown: 1944, 1946, 1947, 1952, 1953, 1956, 1957
Hamilton: 1937, 1949, 1954, 2004
Hamilton Taft: 1962