Clark County state champs you didn’t know: 100 years ago, Plattsburg High won Ohio’s first Class B basketball title

SPRINGFIELD — 100 years ago, Clark County got its first taste of March Madness.

In 1923, the Plattsburg High School boys basketball team won the first-ever Class B state championship, beating Bellpoint 16-15 on March 10, 1923 at the Ohio Fairgrounds Coliseum, according to the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s website.

Ben Garrett scored a game-high 10 points in the victory, while Jesse Stewart had four points and Harold Ervin added two points for Plattsburg, which finished its season 24-2.

Plattsburg “gave one of the most wonderful exhibitions of coming from behind and winning out ever seen on a cage court. They simply refused to surrender and turned defeat into victory in the last minute of play,” the Springfield Daily News wrote in its March 11, 1923 edition.

The team was coached by Paul R. Glenn. Plattsburg had about 50 boys enrolled in the school, according to the Daily News.

The first state championships were played in 1923, according to OHSAA Director of Media Relations Tim Stried. A state basketball invitational tournament was held prior to that, Stried said.

Plattsburg qualified for the state tournament by going 5-0 in the Southwestern Ohio Interscholastic Basketball Division tournament in Oxford earlier that March, beating West Liberty, Dixon Twp., Beavercreek, Mt. Healthy and Lebanon by an average of 16.6 points per game. Plattsburg’s only losses in the regular season came to Lawrenceville and North Hampton.

Plattsburg beat Wellsville 18-17 in the state quarterfinals and beat West Unity 29-11 at the Ohio State University Gymnasium to advance to face Bellpoint in the state championship game.

Plattsburg won the championship game in comeback fashion, according to the March 24, 1963 edition of the Springfield Daily News. Bellpoint led 10-6 at the half and led 12-9 entering the fourth quarter. Plattsburg tied the score on a basket by Garrett before Bellpoint took the lead at 13-12 on a free throw. With less than a minute remaining, a Plattsburg player “intercepted a pass, tossed it to Jesse Stewart, who made the field goal and won the game.”

Garrett and Richard Farish were selected to the Class B All-Tournament Team, as well as the Class B All-Ohio team.

The team also included former Clark County Commissioner Charles B. Mitch, Bus Rae, Caleb Osborne, Bill Sharp, David Stewart and Lacey Stinson.

In winning the state title, Plattsburg took down one of the early dynasties in Ohio High School basketball history. Bellpoint advanced to the state invitational tournament in 1922 before finishing runner-up to Plattsburg in 1923. Bellpoint went on to win the state championship in both 1924 and 1925.

Ervin went on to become a three-year starter at Ohio State University, according to their website. He led the team in scoring with 88 points in 1930, according to Ohio State University’s Lantern newspaper. In 1938, the Springfield Daily News called Ervin “the most famous athlete to ever attend Plattsburg.”

Plattsburg was later consolidated into the Northeastern Local School District in the early 1950s.

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