Category Archives: Basketball-Boys

Who Was Neil Johnston? Here’s More on the 1950s NBA Star & CHS Alumnus

Presented by Hometown-Motors, Inc.

More than 70 years after high school, Neil Johnston is back home in Chillicothe. 

Monday evening, the statue memorializing NBA champion and Hall of Fame Inductee Neil Johnston was placed at the north side of the main entrance to Chillicothe High School’s Ellis B. Hatton Memorial Gymnasium.

The wrapped statue of Neil Johnston is hoisted in place on the north side of the main entrance to Chillicothe High School’s Hatton Gym.

Four years ago when approached by local sports memorabilia collector Bruce Caplinger, noted sculptor Brian Hanlon jumped at the chance to create the lasting image of Johnston.

Caplinger remembers the conversation well. 

“He said, Bruce, we’re gonna make this happen… it’s not a matter of is it gonna happen, but when.”

Caplinger began his campaign by presenting the idea of a statue to honor Johnston, a charter member of the CHS Athletic Hall of Fame, to the Board of Education in 2016. The project was expected to cost $50,000, which would be raised by private donations. To assist in lowering the costs, Vince Beverly Concrete donated the foundation on which the sculpture sits. Beverly was a Cavalier Basketball teammate of Caplinger’s. Many others made material and service donations as well.

Bob Sigler and his wife Kathryn watch as the statue of his childhood friend is unwrapped from its crate.

The 11-foot-4-inch tall statue portrays Johnston’s patented hook shot while his crew cut, lanky 6-foot-8-inch frame bursts upward through boards of hardwood from the court.  

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a planned dedication ceremony was postponed in April. “We’ve had this statue since November of 20th of last year” said Caplinger, who headed up a twenty three member volunteer committee. “We’ve all agreed, let’s set it up, enjoy it and we’ll have a nice celebration later on when we can.”


After graduation from Chillicothe High School in 1946, Johnston played baseball and basketball at the Ohio State University for two seasons. He left college to pursue a pro baseball career. 

Baseball didn’t pan out in the minor leagues with Philadelphia Phillies organization, Johnston was given a tryout with the NBA’s Philadelphia Warriors. It’s where he would make his mark.

After signing with the team, Johnston played 8 NBA seasons (1951-59) and won the 1955-56 NBA championship. He led the NBA in scoring three consecutive seasons (averaging 23.1 ppg), led the Warriors in rebounding five straight seasons and was a six-time NBA All-Star. 

In a preview of the 1958 NBA All-Star Game, Sport Illustrated described Johnston’s famous hook shot. “He starts with his back to the basket, goes through a rhythmic series of feints to confound his guard and, just as the hoop comes in view in a corner of one eye, he releases the ball. Rhythm, instinct and flash perception make it a deadly shot for Johnston.” (Photos by Hy Peskin, January 20, 1958 edition of SI)

Johnston battles for a rebound with New York’s Carl Braun. SI photo by Hy Peskin
Johnston’s hook shot in Philadelphia-New York game in 1958. SI photo by Hy Peskin

Just a handful of players have led the NBA in scoring at least three season consecutively: George Mikan, Johnston, Wilt Chamberlain, Bob McAdoo, George Gervin, Michael Jordan (twice) and Kevin Durant… pretty good company for a lanky kid from Ohio’s First Capital.

A knee injury ended his playing career and he was later hired to coach the Warriors, which included the first two seasons of NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain’s career. As head coach, Johnston led Philadelphia to a 95-59 record.

Johnston died of a heart attack in 1978 while playing basketball in Irving, Texas where he was an athletic director of North Lake College.

Johnston was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in May of 1990 and the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008, the same season his alma mater, Chillicothe won its only Boys Basketball state championship.





Sports Illustrated from January 1958 with a preview of the NBA All-Star Game. SI photo by Hy Peskin

#1 Harvest Prep Upends Pioneers

The Pioneers’ tourney run came to a close at The Convo in a 58-46 loss to top-ranked Harvest Prep Wednesday, before a crowd to rival an open practice or scrimmage.

Action by the Ohio High School Athletic Association Tuesday, limited the number of spectators for the game due to the outbreak of COVID-19. 

As for the game, Zane Trace came out of the gates hot in their Division III Sweet 16 battle with #1 ranked Harvest Prep, posting a 7-2 lead, but the Warriors scrapped back for an 11-10 score through the first period… then, Harvest Prep ratcheted up the defense and rallied with a 17-0 run. Cam Evans nailed a basket to stop the Pioneers scoring drought. 

Harvest Prep held a 26-17 lead at the half.In the third, Zane Trace managed to pull within 28-26 but the Warriors hit another gear and pulled back on top by the end of the period by five points, 37-32.

The Pioneers tightened the game again at 39-36, but that was their final gasp as Harvest Prep moved to 44-36 with 4:30 remaining.

The final as the Pioneers season closed at 22-4.

Cam Evans dropped in 26 points for Zane Trace and with just minutes remaining became the Pioneers’ top scorer in school history with 1,652 points.Prior to last weekend, only the 1969 and 1970 Zane Trace Pioneers had won District Titles for their school. 

Harvest Prep returns to The Convo Saturday night for a spot in  next week’s Division III Final Four.

WATCH our Litter Media Sports post game report with highlights and Coach Kellough.
Cam Evans (10) is congratulated by Nick Nesser (5) and Colby Swain (0) after sinking a free throw which was the basket that made him the All-Time leading scorer in Zane Trace Boys Basketball. Photo by Dan Ramey/Litter Media
Few in numbers, the Pioneer fans made themselves heard Wednesday night. Photo by Dan Ramey/Litter Media.

Pioneers Headed to the D III Sweet 16

Zane Trace won its fourth District Basketball Championship in school history with a 51-41 win over Ironton Friday at The Convo.

Nick Nesser had a hot hand early, scoring 9 of his team high 20 points in the first period as Zane Trace turned a 9-9 tie into a 13-9 lead.

Ironton kept pace with the Pioneers in the second period, cutting the margin to 23-20 by the half. 

Zane Trace pulled ahead again in the 3rd quarter and appeared in command until Triton Davidson picked up his fourth foul of the game midway through the period forcing the Pioneers to go to the bench for freshman Nalin Robinson. 

Despite the Tigers Reid Carrico keeping Ironton in the game with his team high 20 points, down the stretch, the Pioneers nailed some free throws to secure a 51-41 victory for the school’s fourth district title and winning them back to back for the first time since the 1969 and 1970 seasons. 

Nesser led the Pioneers with 20 points and Cam Evans added 15 while Reid Carrico also netted 20 to lead Ironton.

Zane Trace will face Harvest Prep Wednesday at Ohio University with a 6:15pm tip-off. Harvest Prep nipped Worthington Christian Friday night 49-47.

In the game prior to the Zane Trace-Ironton game, Fairland socked Chesapeake 71-43. Fairland battles Ridgewood in the nightcap at 8pm Wednesday at The Convo. Ridgewood breezed past Morgan 65-48.

Logan Elm Takes Warren 51-48

Logan Elm fell behind in the early going as Warren took a six point lead. The Warriors’ Brandon Simoniette dropped in a couple of buckets to set the margin for a 13-6 lead over the first 8-minutes and managed a 24-19 lead at the half.

Logan Elm came out of the intermission hot tying the game at 24 in the first two minutes on a shot by Isaac Ward and Jason Sailor gave the Braves their first lead of the game at 26-24. Logan Elm had a 32-31 lead through three quarters. Jeremy Weitelmann gave Logan Elm its biggest lead at 39-35 on a three-pointer with 5:28 remaining.  

Warren’s Kurt Taylor pulled the Warriors to within 44-43 on a trey with 1:00 left.

Jared Harrington got behind the defense to sink a layup on a pass from Weitelmann and 46-43 LE

It’s Logan Elm’s fifth District Championship since 2006.

Brayden Sallee led Warren with 14 points. Logan Elm was paced by Gabe Chalfin with 18 points and Isaac Ward with 14. 

The Braves will face the winner of Meadowbrook and Tried-Valley on Thursday March 12th.


Zane Trace Edges Adena 51-48

The third meeting between the Pioneers and Warriors was much closer than the first two. Zane Trace won by margins of 16 and 13 points in their previous matchups in 2019-20.

Adena had taken the first period 12-9 on a drop-in by Cade McKee just before the buzzer. Zane Trace got a hot hand while Adena cooled its shooting in the second quarter as the Pioneers outscored Adena 17-7 to take a 26-19 lead at the half.

It looked like Zane Trace was going to run away with the game in the third, but Adena drained three-pointers on three consecutive possessions and pulled to within 32-30. The Pioneers recovered and extended their lead to 40-30 to close out the period.

In the 4th, Adena stormed back and whittled the lead to 51-48 with an opportunity to tie the game at the end of regulation, but a three-pointer from Logan Bennett missed its mark and Zane Trace grabbed the rebound as time expired.

Nick Nesser led the Pioneers with 17 points ahead of Cam Evans’ 15. Logan Bennett was the game’s top scorer with 19. 

Adena closes its season at 16-9 while Zane Trace improves to 21-3.

The win sends Zane Trace to the DIII District Championship game March 6th at 8:15pm with upset minded Ironton. The Tigers were a 56-41 winner over 3rd seeded Eastern Brown Sunday. Ironton trailed 3-0 but went on a 17-0 run and kept Eastern Brown down 10-17 points the rest of the game. Ironton is 13-10 entering Friday’s game. Zane Trace defeated Ironton in the regular season 54-50.

Nick Nesser aims for two of his team high 17 points for Zane Trace. Photo by Dan Ramey/Litter Media

Logan Elm Handles Athens 65-45, Reaches District Final

Logan Elm’s Isaac Ward crossed the 1,000 career points mark in a memorable place, The Convo in Athens.

The junior guard tallied 16 points to help lead the Braves to a 65-45 victory over Athens and secure a spot in Thursday’s District Championship game with Warren.

Gabe Chalfin added 12 points while Luke Baldwin and Jeremy Wietelmann netted 11 points each as Logan Elm controlled the game from the start.

The Braves held a 32-18 lead at the intermission and had built a 53-33 lead through the third period.

Logan Elm faces Warren who had defeated Waverly 45-42 earlier in the evening.

Jeremy Wietelmann drives the lane for two points. Photo by Dan Ramey/Litter Media
Gabe Chalfin lays in two for the Braves. Photo by Dan Ramey/Litter Media
Isaac Ward became the newest member of the Logan Elm 1,000 points club. Photo by Dan Ramey/Litter Media

Warren Nips Waverly 45-42 For Trip to District Final

The two had played in the season opener at Piketon with Waverly earning a five point victory. With the 2019-20 campaign on the line, it was Warren coming out on top 45-42 to advance to Thursday’s District Final with Logan Elm at The Convo.

Warren’s Brandon Simoniette was held to just three points in the first half, but finished the final 13 minutes with 14 more. It all started with about 5 minutes left in the third period with the Warriors going scoreless and Waverly held a 24-22 advantage.

It turned out to be the turning point in the game.

Warren’s Blaine Maddox said it was time to place some weight on the shoulders of his senior “We do that sometimes, but we didn’t quit. We kept battling and Simoniette with about with about 5 minutes left in the third quarter, I said ‘This is your time, bud… This is it for you’ and he turned it on. 

Waverly’s Travis Robertson said Simoniette (17 points) hit some timely shots for Warren. “He played a great game tonight” said Robertson. “We knew he was their best perimeter guy… We were supposed to be going up top over all those screens, we had breakdowns. When you have breakdowns you pay for them.”

The Tigers trailed 14-8 before closing the fist period on a 7-0 run and the game was knotted at 22 by the half. 

Trey Robertson found Tanner Smallwood for a shot to beat the buzzer to give Waverly a 35-32 lead to close the third quarter. 

The nail in the coffin for Waverly was a three pointer by Joel Chevalier to put Warren up 43-41 to take the lead for good.

Waverly finished its season 19-5 while Warren (16-9) plays Logan Elm for the District Championship Thursday.

The Warren Warriors huddle before the tip-off. Photo by Dan Ramey/Litter Media
Waverly’s Trey Robertson tries to avoid Warren defenders. Photo by Dan Ramey/Litter Media

Cavs Earn 62-48 Win Over Marysville

The casual observer wouldn’t have known Chillicothe hadn’t played since February 15th. There was no rust on the Cavalier offense as they racked up a 62-48 Sectional Final win over Marysville at Hatton Memorial Gymnasium. 

The Cavs’ three Musketeers, Tre Beard (19), Jayvon Maughmer (18) and Brandon Noel (12) combined for 49 points while Eli Taylor (7), Vinny Roper (4) and Kam Smith (2) gave Chillicothe the cushion necessary for the win.

Chillicothe controlled the game from the start taking a 13-5 lead after the 1st Quarter, then led 31-19 by the intermission. Marysville failed to get closer than 10 points in the second half. 

Chillicothe (19-4) has won five straight and will face Pickerington North in a District Semi-Final Wednesday at a site to be determined Sunday afternoon. The game will have a 7pm tip-off with the winner heading to the District Championship Game at Ohio Dominican University Saturday. March 7th at 11:00am.


Brandon Noel throws down two of his 12 points on night. Photo by Dan Ramey/Litter Media
Tre Beard eyes the Marysville defense before sinking two of his 19 points. Photo by Dan Ramey/Litter Media

Danny Oates Selected to OHSAA Officials Hall of Fame

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Fifteen individuals have been selected for induction into the Ohio High School Athletic Association Officials Hall of Fame. The OHSAA Officials Hall of Fame induction banquet is scheduled for June 20 in Columbus and will welcome these 15 individuals selected by the OHSAA Officials Hall of Fame Committee.

Each of the 15 inductees is being honored for outstanding officiating careers and significant contributions to interscholastic officiating in Ohio. More information on the OHSAA Officials Hall of Fame is posted at:

“In addition to being outstanding officials in their chosen sports, these 15 individuals have mentored countless other officials along the way,” said Beau Rugg, OHSAA Senior Director of Officiating and Sport Management and himself a member of the Hall of Fame. “Officiating is a service to student-athletes, coaches, schools and other officials and it is a joy to recognize these highly respected individuals with induction into the OHSAA Officials Hall of Fame.”

2020 OHSAA Officials Hall of Fame Induction Class

Larry Black, Westerville (SB)

Robert Brammer, Dublin (FB, BK)

Don Green, Delaware (BK, BB, SB)

Don Giffin, St. Clairsville (FB, BK)

George Gulas, Medina (BK, BB, SB)

Michael Vaschek, Youngstown (FB, BK) (Deceased)

John Vicarel, Youngstown (FB, SO, VB, BK, BB, SB)

Truman Claytor, Toledo (BK)

Mark King, Fremont (FB, BK, BB)

Michael Poole, Maumee (FB)

Danny Oates, Chillicothe (FB, BK)

Tony Lingardo, West Chester (FB, BK, BB)

Richard Loewenstine, West Chester (WR)

Harry Robinson, New Carlisle (XC, TF)

Ken Myers, Fremont (FB)

Boys DII: Logan Elm & Waverly Advance to The Convo

DII Sectional Champs

Game 1: Logan Elm 57, Jackson 38
The Logan Elm Braves trailed Jackson 12-7 following the first eight minutes. That would change quickly in the second period.

The Ironmen went cold and were limited to two points in the second quarter, all while Logan Elm’s efficient offense clicked and its defense contained Jackson’s Caleb Wallis. The Braves played Miami Trace without their Jason Sailor in Wednesday’s semi-final. Coach Doug Stiverson regarded Sailor as his team’s best defender and Saturday, it showed. Wallis managed 13 points on the day, but Sailor shadowed and challenged his every move.

Meanwhile, the Braves began to pull away, leading 23-14 at the half and 36-26 through three.Jackson scrapped to within five on three possessions in the fourth, but couldn’t get closer. The Braves also distanced themselves with their play at the line, hitting 28-of-31 free throws. Thirteen of those were dropped in by Isaac Ward, who finished as the game’s leading scorer with 21 points. Gabe Chalfin added another 18, half of which were from the stipe.The Ironman were paced by Wallis with 13 and Braxton Hammond’s 11 points.

Jackson’s season closes at 20-4 and the Braves head to The Convo for a District Semi-Final with Athens Saturday February 29 at 8:45pm.


Game 2: Waverly 38, Unioto 34 
Waverly took the lead from Unioto in the final quarter to open the fourth with a three-pointer by Trey Robertson and Unioto fought to keep pace, but the Tigers clawed out a 38-34 win for their fourth straight Sectional Championship.

The Tanks maintained a slight advantage over Waverly for most of the game, but couldn’t gain enough ground to keep the lead. The Tigers went ahead just before the half on a Robertson bucket, but Unioto’s Isaac Little drained a jumper at the buzzer for a 20-18 halftime lead. Little netted 17 points for the Shermans.

Waverly cut the margin to 25-24 through three quarters in a low scoring period before assuming the lead in the fourth. Robertson led Waverly with 18 points and Jason Futhey came up with some big buckets late.

The Tigers play Warren on Saturday February 29 at 7pm. The two clubs met at the beginning of the season in Piketon with Waverly coming out on top 63-60.

Gabe Chalfin (13) and Isaac Ward (4) celebrate a championship while Jason Sailor (10) looks on. Logan Elm faces Athens in the District Semi-Finals Saturday February 29th at The Convo in Athens. Photo by Dan Ramey/Litter Media
Waverly Coach Travis Robertson affirms with his team that moments like this is why they work so hard for so long adding “We’ve got more work to do.” The Tigers play Warren in the District Semi-Final Saturday February 29th at 7pm at The Convo in Athens. Photo by Dan Ramey/Litter Media
Watch the Litter Media game report and hear from Logan Elm’s Doug Stiverson, Jackson’s Max Morrow, Waverly’s Travis Robertson and Unioto’s Matt Hoops.