OHIO — Ohio High School honored six of the greatest basketball players to wear the Bulldog uniform between games of Wednesday’s Homecoming Night between the LaMoille/Ohio co-op and Ashton-Franklin Center.
The retired numbers of Ike Beers (No. 52), Brad Bickett (No. 24), Steve Etheridge (No. 32), Todd Etheridge (No. 12), Lance Harris (No. 10) and Brian Piper (30), were rededicated and will be framed and displayed in a shadow box in the gym lobby trophy case.
The Etheridge brothers along with Bickett and Beers returned for Wednesday’s event. Harris planned to make it back, but had to cancel due a last-minute family emergency. Piper was unable to make the trip from his Arlington, Texas home.
In their questionnaires they compiled, each talked about the fond memories of their days playing for the Bulldogs. The group of Bickett, Harris, Todd Etheridge and Beers memories’ centered around taking part in the 1986 Bulldogs’ magical march to the IHSA State Championship game.
“My favorite memory of being a Bulldog is how every player on the team came together with one goal in mind and that was to play in Champaign,” Harris said. “Each player knew their role and played for the team every night and not for themselves. This was a team that comes along only once in a lifetime, and I will cherish the opportunity I had to play with this group for as long as I live.”
Todd Etheridge said his favorite memory was “getting the firetrucks out for a trip around town after a big win.”
Bickett, who coaches at Rock Falls High School, talked about the “great relationships” that were developed with teammates, coaches, administrators, teachers and community members.”
Beers, who made it back from Littleton, Colo., where he serves for the nearby Lakewood Police Department, had similar memories.
“My favorite personal memory was seeing the sea of support the team had when we rode the fire truck back into Ohio after coming back from state,” he said. “It was incredible to see a small town basketball team capture the hearts of so many people and how an entire community and area became one big family for this event that touched so many lives and changed mine. I will never forget that.”
For Piper, tiny Ohio lived up to its slogan where small is mighty.
“Something that always stuck with me was the ability to compete against and beat many of the larger schools in our area when we had an enrollment around 60 at the time when I was in school,” said Piper, who noted he remains close friends with his old teammates. “Gave us as a team, school and our community a great sense of pride when we would knock off the bigger schools.”
Steve Etheridge, class of 1984, said his best memory was beating Tampico for the Manlius Holiday Tournament championship two weeks after getting beat bad by the Trojans.