Stow boys basketball coach Dave Close said three Bulldogs teams from the 1990’s will be honored Friday night when Stow hosts Barberton.
Close said the celebration is part of a 20-year reunion. The players from the teams of the classes 1992, 1993 and 1994 will be recognized before the start of the game, which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Close said a majority of the players from those teams will be in attendance.
The 1991-92 Stow team finished its season with a 22-3 overall record, a Metro League championship, a sectional championship, a district championship and reached the round of eight of the Division I tournament. They were ranked No. 2 in the final Associated Press OHSAA Division I basketball poll.
The 1992-93 Bulldogs team finished 24-2 and won Metro League, sectional, district and regional Championships to reach the state semifinals of the Division I tournament. They were ranked No. 1 in the final AP Division I state poll and reached a ranking of 10thin the USA Today national rankings.
The 1993-94 Stow team had an undefeated regular season at 20-0 and finished with a 23-1 overall record. The Bulldogs won Metro League, sectional and district championships, and reached the round of 16 of the Division I tournament. They were also ranked No. 1 in the final AP state poll and were ranked as high as No. 5 in the USA Today national rankings.
“I am really big on legacy, and I think every team has a responsibility to know their legacy, where they came from and how they should live up to it and leave one behind,” Close said. “To bring together these teams that played at an elite level is special. These teams were not only state ranked as No. 1 or No. 2, but they were ranked in the top 10 and top five nationally. To read about Stow basketball in the USA Today, that is a pretty cool legacy.”
Close said four All-Ohio selections were key players on three teams, 1992 graduate Brian Higley, 1993 graduates Kevin Kovach (AP POY) and Chet Feldman, 1994 graduate Geoff Byrne (Coaches poll POY) and 1995 graduate Andy Norman.
Kovach was the Division I AP Ohio Player of the Year in 1993 and Byrne was the Coaches Poll Ohio Player of the Year in 1994.
“Jim Leone and Jason Herceg from the Class of 1994 played on all three teams and Steve Wood from the Class of 1993 played on the first two teams,” Close said. “[Barberton coach] Kenny [Rector] was my assistant coach all three of those years and will be a part of the ceremony. That was the only three years he was on staff here.”
Close, a 1976 Stow graduate, is in his 25thyears as Bulldogs head coach. He said the 1992-1993 and 1993-1994 teams averaged over 93 points per game.
Close guided the three teams to a 57-3 overall regular season record and began a string of six consecutive league championships, the longest streak in Metro League history.
Families, fans and friends are encouraged to attend the recognition ceremony prior to tip-off Friday and to join them in an informal reception after the game to honor these teams and players.