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Can’t beat the ‘64 Belmont team for memories

Long before Belmont High School would win the 1964 boys state high school basketball championship, it was Middletown that ruled supreme.

Playing the Middies meant beating a path to Wade E. Miller Gym.

“The only way (coach) Paul Walker would play a young city school from Dayton is we had to come to Middletown two years in a row,” recalled Bill Hosket, a key member of the ’64 title team.

The Bison did the season before and were taken apart in the second half. There was so much anticipation of the rematch that the game was moved to the University of Dayton Fieldhouse, with an unusual twist.

“We wore our road uniforms and they wore their home whites,” recalled Hosket. “We were visitors on the scoreboard; I’ll never forget that. You couldn’t get a seat there, either.”

Belmont won the rematch and won over many others throughout its title run. Considered by many to be the best Dayton-area boys team ever, they continue to reap honors. Coach John Ross’ Bison will be part of the 2013 Class to be inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame today.

The eighth annual ceremony will be held at the Columbus Convention Center. Among the inductees will be Randy Ayers of Springfield North High School (1974 graduate) and Miami University and Wally Szczerbiak of Miami. The featured speaker will be Wayne Embry, a Tecumseh High School grad and yet another former Miami great.

Hosket and Don May were Belmont’s stars. Only two managers are deceased. Hosket will host all the players for a luncheon this afternoon at his Columbus home. Ross also will be there, making the trip from Florida.

Belmont was 26-1 that season, losing only in overtime to Chaminade, also at UD. The Bison averaged 82.9 points, topped 100 four times and scored 90-plus five more times.

They were especially lethal in the postseason, crushing Urbana 90-64 in a regional final, Canton McKinley 80-56 in the state semifinal and Cleveland East 89-60 to win a Class A title.

Hosket, a frequent spectator at the boys final fours in Columbus, said he often hears from fans about that Belmont team.

“In the ’60s, it was a fabulous time to grow up in the city of Dayton,” Hosket said. “Basketball is still a huge deal in the Dayton area and Southwest Ohio, but it was really large then. In the early ’60s, you had Ohio State and Cincinnati dominating the college scene and UD was right behind them. It was a hotbed of college and high school basketball.”

Hosket’s father, Bill Sr., won three state titles with Stivers. Bill was often asked as a youth if he would ever win one.

“I don’t know if any championship meant as much to me as winning a high school state championship in Ohio because it’s the one that we thought about the longest,” he said.

“For years after, you realize what it meant not just for the players on the team, but our entire community. When you get older, you appreciate that even more.”

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