Laricca ‘See Them Rise Showcase’ set for Sunday-Monday
Ohio Hall of Famer Rex Leach to be honored at annual Lariccia basketball event
By Doug Chapin
Twenty-eight years ago Tuesday, sharp-shooting guard Jay Burson of John Glenn High School in New Concord, became Ohio’s all-time leading scorer in basketball. (He since has been passed by Jon Diebler).
The player Burson passed that January night in 1985 had held the record since his career ended in Trumbull County in 1955.
That player, Rex Leach, will be honored on Sunday during the second annual Lariccia’s See Them Rise High School Basketball Showcase at the Covelli Center. The Showcase promises two full days of outstanding basketball Sunday and Monday, and also will give Mahoning Valley basketball fans a chance to salute one of their own and one of Ohio‘s greatest hardwood stars.
Leach, who was inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008 and still stands fifth in career scoring in the state, will be honored with a Mahoning Valley Career Excellence in Basketball award just before the 8:30 p.m. game on Sunday. Event organizers plan to make the award an annual part of the Showcase which this year includes 11 games with start times from noon to 8:30 p.m. on Sunday and from noon to 8 p.m. Monday.
Leach scored 2,537 points at Vienna High School (now part of the Mathews District) in his career, including an astounding 1,256 (43.3 per game) in the 1954-55 season. He scored 72 points in a game against Southington and scored 53 or more five times. Vienna reached the Class B state semifinals that season. The Flyers put together a 46-game winning streak over two seasons during Leach’s time.
In college, Leach was a three-year starter at Bowling Green and captained the Falcons as a senior. He later was a high school basketball coach, including stops at North Lima and Mathews.
The two-day slate of games — six on Sunday, five on Monday — includes local boys teams from Ursuline, Cardinal Mooney, East, Struthers, Campbell, Springfield and LaBrae as well as the Struthers and Canfield girls teams.
Playing at a neutral site against an unfamiliar opponent with a different starting time can be cause for concern among coaches.
“It’s a little different for the kids who haven’t played there, it takes some getting used to,” Cardinal Mooney coach Brian Danilov said. “We also have to get focused for the different start time. We’re used to being ready to play at 6 or 7 and Sunday we’re playing at 3:30. We’ve got to get dialed in and ready to play earlier.”
The Cardinals (5-4) face Brookside High from Lorain County. Danilov and his staff are working on gathering information on their opponent.
“We’re focused right now on St. Thomas who we play on Friday, and we will focus on Brookside on Saturday,” Danilov said. “The Covelli Centre is a nice place to play and Eric Ryan does a real good job down there.”
LaBrae’s battle with West Middlesex, Pa., on Sunday at 8:30 and East High’s contest Monday (2 p.m.) against Hudson are considered to be two of the event highlights. Peyton Aldridge of LaBrae (8-2) and Matt Dogan of West Middlesex ( 9-2) could end up in a scoring shootout, and East (8-3), coming off three tough losses, faces another strong opponent in the Explorers (7-4).
The final game of the event, the Canfield girls (12-1) against Hickory, Pa., (10-1), is also expected to be one of the more closely-contested games of the event. The boys game between Springfield (9-2) and Deer Lakes, Pa., (9-5) at noon on Monday also should be a competitive contest.
What could be the best game of the event is the first game which tips off at noon on Sunday. Twinsburg (9-2) is ranked in the Plain Dealer Top 15 and Kiski Prep School from the Pittsburgh area is ranked in the Top 10 nationally with a 14-4 record against a national schedule. Former Youngstown Christian standout Casey Carroll played at Kiski before going on to Drexel University.
Another interesting game pits Spire Academy, a prep school located in Geneva, against the University of Mount Union JV squad. Former local stars Nate Jacubec (Struthers) and Cody Dillon (Newton Falls) are not expected to play as both are varsity starters for the Purple Raiders.
Tickets for the event are $7 at the door for a full day of basketball. Tickets can be purchased at reduced rates — $6 for adults and $4 for students — at the respective schools. Parking is free.