Carrie Molnar leans forward on the bleachers in the gym at W Holmes Loftier School in Millersburg, Ohio. The manicured nails of her right manus dig into her cheek as she stares at the court, watching her daughter Natalie, a senior, play.

“Oh male child,” she says. “Oh boy. This is mode too close.”

Information technology’southward early Dec, and the Knights of West Holmes Canton are playing the Hiland Hawks of Berlin, in East Holmes. They’re playing in a gym that West Holmes calls “The Dungeon.” Everyone here has already walked through a lobby that features a huge rock with an embedded sword — a replica of Excalibur — and through a doorway to the gym designed to look like it will deposit yous into the type of room that holds people confronting their will. But once you lot get through, y’all’re in a 15-yr-old gymnasium, a hotbed that seats 3,000 people.

Photo: Halee Heironimus

Holmes County, Ohio, is abode to the world’south largest Amish settlement, bigger even than that of Lancaster Canton, Pennsylvania. Columbus and Cleveland and Pittsburgh are all about the same distance away — too far. There are no pic theaters in the county. The nearest mall is xxx miles abroad in New Philadelphia and takes about 45 minutes to get there — if you lot’re driving a car, and this beingness Amish country, many people neither drive cars nor go to the movies.

It’s also domicile to just two high schools, two schools with the nearly storied girls’ basketball game programs in the land.

Combine the two schools’ records (Hiland started playing girls’ basketball in 1968, West Holmes in 1975), and yous become a remarkable 1,517 wins versus 466 losses, a .765 winning percentage over more than 40 years of basketball. Hiland hasn’t had a losing flavor since they went 10-xi in 1983-84. West Holmes last losing season was in 1998-99.

Ohio first held a girls’ basketball tournament in 1976 and since then, the two schools take combined for 21 trips to the Last 4 of their segmentation, 15 championship game appearances and eight state championships. Hiland won three land championships over the class of four years, from 2005-08. In the 1980s, West Holmes won 3 state championships, and, in the final four seasons, information technology’s fabricated the finals three times and won once.

When these two teams play, the game brings out the type of oversupply you don’t ordinarily see at a high school girls’ basketball game. It’south the blazon of game that can fill The Dungeon.

Despite their difference in size — Hiland (Division IV) is one of the smaller schools in the land with merely about 400 students in grades seven-12, while Due west Holmes (Division II), has double that in just grades 9-12 — they play each other just once every year. It’south a game nearly anybody in the canton looks forward to. Over the previous 10 years, the series is tied at 5-5. Every yr, the game is ridiculously tense. Every year, the game seemingly comes down to the final moments.

This game is shaping up to be no unlike. On the courtroom, the defense is relentless. Both teams are having trouble making shots, because every shot is contested. Indeed, at the start neither squad scored for the first several minutes in the game, until Hiland’s Kennedy Schlabach striking a three with a hand in her confront. Westward Holmes responded as the first quarter grinded on, with two three-pointers past Kacie Leppla. But other shots just weren’t falling, and defenders, emboldened past the fact the referees were non bravado their whistles, got simply a picayune closer to the offensive thespian they were matched up confronting.

Photo: Halee Heironimus

In the stands, the fans are likewise tense. Hiland brought a big group, including about l students. Dressed all in white, they stood up at the tip and haven’t sat down since. They’ve been loud, and the Westward Holmes fans, dressed all in blue behind the team demote, have responded in kind.

“Oh boy,” Molnar says after a West Holmes player misses a free throw. “Information technology’s much easier playing than watching.”


Holmes County is a place where half the farmers still till their land the style many of our ancestors did more than 100 years ago. Information technology’due south a county that has tiny villages — Amuse, Walnut Creek, Winesburg — where you are more likely to see horse and buggies than cars. Here, in Holmes County, history is not just a affair to know to avert repeating. History must be known, so it
tin
be repeated. So information technology can exist replicated, because what happened in the past is what was good and what was right.

Photograph: Halee Heironimus

In a higher place:
Mark Losinger

And in that way, in a world where everything is so focused on the present and the hereafter, on applied science and ways we tin always brand things better, many of the people in Holmes County, even those who no longer strictly adhere to their Amish heritage, think otherwise.

“Information technology’due south different here,” says Mark Lonsinger of the Voice of Holmes County, a Millersburg-based website that offers all kinds of media content covering the county, including live-streams of West Holmes and Hiland basketball games, both boys and girls.

Lonsinger, who lives in Coshocton Canton, which is just to the due south of Holmes, has been calling basketball game games on the radio and the web since the tardily 1970s. And while none of the girls (or boys, for that matter) who play basketball game in Holmes County are Amish — the Amish driblet out of public schools past middle school, if they go to public school at all — daily life is unlike from other places.

“In that location’s a work ethic, there’s a family life, at that place’s a community life that is a throwback to the way it used to exist in this country,” he says. “Is information technology all perfect? No. Merely I’m just proverb it’s a different type of raising that the kids become, a dissimilar type of community structure than what exists in a lot of places today.”

Have, for example, Dave Schlabach, the caput coach of the Hiland Hawks. He graduated from Hiland in 1984. He’s now been coaching the girls’ squad since the 1991-92 season. In all that time, he’s had two players who came from families where the parents were divorced. Ii. Out of more than 100 players. The divorce charge per unit in the United States ranges between 40 and 50 percent. For the parents of Schlabach’s players, it’s less than two per centum.

“High school is challenging enough,” Schlabach says. “This place makes it a petty easier, but that’s also why I have to build some toughness as well.”

Lisa Patterson, the caput coach at Westward Holmes, graduated from that school in 1988. She played on a championship team, and now coaches the daughters of the girls who were once teammates.

Both Schlabach and Patterson moved back to Holmes County subsequently going to college because that’south what, ultimately, people from Holmes County generally do. Considering they like it. And neither motorcoach has ever thought about coaching some other team anywhere else.

These are the things that make Holmes County a unlike kind of place. And perchance it’s that strict adherence to what has happened in the past, or maybe information technology’s something unlike. But Lonsinger thinks the past holds the primal, especially for the basketball programs.

Photograph: Halee Heironimus

Indeed, anywhere y’all go in the canton, in that location are people who are willing to talk about girls’ basketball game like they talk nearly the Packers in Green Bay or the Red Sox in Boston. Invariably, the talk drifts to two coaches — one long-agone retired and moved away and the other expressionless far likewise young. Both men are notwithstanding every bit nowadays in their communities. Both are spoken of in reverence. Both have taken on a mythical quality that most makes one wonder if what they accomplished was real.

Make no mistake. It was real, and that’south one of the things that make these programs and so storied. Because information technology’s the stories each community shares that brings them both together.


Carrie Molnar wasn’t always Carrie Molnar. She was one time Carrie Wells. Carrie Molnar is just as tiny as Carrie Wells was, and she still has the same brusk hair that didn’t need to exist put into a ponytail when she played. Simply now, instead of existence down on the courtroom — at the real “Dungeon,” which at present is the gym at the eye school — she sits in the stands and remembers what information technology was like to play while she watches her girl do what she did then long ago.

Carrie was a scrappy defensive specialist for West Holmes, the blazon of player who head coach Jack Van Reeth put on the opposing squad’s point guard, so she could press all the way down the court, swatting away the ball from the opponent when she had just the tiniest opening.

It was the late autumn of 1983, and Van Reeth was a new motorbus for the girls’ team, although he wasn’t new to W Holmes.

Photo: Halee Heironimus

Van Reeth, also the banana principal, had been coaching the West Holmes boys’ basketball game team for nearly a decade. He was known for always dressing with a shirt and tie, for standing on the sidelines with his artillery folded, and stomping his feet whenever he wasn’t happy, which was most of the time. He would shout at the referees and growl at his players.

In the 1960s, he’d even coached a team of boys from Dresden to a state championship. Earlier the 1983-84 flavour, though, several people came to Van Reeth and asked him to switch over to the girls’ team.

1 of those men was Herm Cline, the father of a girl named Lisa. Lisa was a junior, and, every bit far as anybody in Holmes County was concerned, about to modify girls’ basketball.

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Van Reeth said no.

“I’m too outgoing,” he told Herm Cline. Just by outgoing, he didn’t mean welcoming.  He meant only the opposite. He meant besides loud, likewise hard on players, likewise tough, no nonsense. “They’ll never play for me,” he said.

“Let’southward give information technology a try,” Herm told Van Reeth.

Van Reeth relented. He went to the girls on the team, which included Carrie Wells and Shane Ridenbaugh. Along with Lisa Cline, those 3 juniors would make up the core of the squad — Cline the unstoppable scorer, Ridenbaugh the rugged rebounder and Wells the relentless, always-pesky defender.

“I’ve coached one way for 25 years,” Van Reeth told the girls. “I’chiliad not going to change. You’re going to change.”

I’ve coached one manner for 25 years. I’m not going to change. Y’all’re going to modify.Jack Van Reeth

While this coaching philosophy might non cut it today, information technology worked back then. Each daughter on an already good squad got meliorate. The Knights, coached by a human who coached girls like they were boys, went 28-0. In the championship game, a game played against briefing rival Orrville (the home of Bobby Knight), Carrie was guarding the Ruby-red Riders’ point baby-sit in overtime. In the last minute, she knocked the ball away and went diving for information technology, colliding with Lisa Cline who was also going subsequently the loose ball. West Holmes got possession, Cline hit a layup and the Knights won past a single signal, taking their first country championship.

They were just getting started.

The next flavor, the Knights of West Holmes would also become 28-0. In Jan 1985 against Akron Coventry, Lisa Cline scored 76 points, breaking the state record of 74, set three years before. That is still the tape in Ohio, and nobody has really even come nearly information technology.

“Jack knew she was getting close,” Molnar says.

“Go her the ball,” Van Reeth told the girls in timeout huddles. “Hells bells, girls. Get her the ball!”

“We wanted her to get the tape,” Molnar says, “because nosotros wanted to be a part of that, as well.”

With 56 straight wins, everyone thought the streak would stop quondam the next flavour. Cline graduated as the third all-time leading scorer in Ohio and the record-holder for points in a flavor. She went on to Ohio State, where she played for iv years and was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and later the Large X Player of the Year, leading the Buckeyes to three Big X championships. Ridenbaugh, the squad’s leading rebounder, went to Ohio Land where she was Lisa Cline’s roommate. Molnar graduated and played at Capital in Columbus.

They weren’t supposed to go along winning, and nevertheless they kept winning. Fifty-fifty as the lineup changed, the approach and the results, did non. Another 28-0 record in the 1985-86 season. Another championship.

Photo: Halee Heironimus

It wasn’t until the team’s 23rd
game of the 1986-87 season that the streak came to an terminate, at the hands of Wellsville in a regional final game played at Muskingum College.

The team had won 108 straight games, still the record in Ohio. 1 girl who played on the third championship team, and who was also on the team that saw the streak stop, was Lisa Straits. Lisa Straits would one 24-hour interval become head coach Lisa Patterson.

While at that place may exist many ways in which Patterson is similar to the man who coached her, there is one difference: Unlike Van Reeth, Lisa isn’t overly concerned with getting lots of media attending. She doesn’t offering a lot of comments after games and she doesn’t brand bold predictions about what her team will do adjacent. Instead, she stands on the sideline, wearing West Holmes’ bluish and red, pacing dorsum and forth. She lets her team do all the talking, and it’s washed a lot of that over the final few years.


Eastvery November, anyone associated with basketball, girls or boys, in the Eastward Holmes Schoolhouse District, gathers at the Der Dutchman Restaurant in Walnut Creek for the Perry Reese Jr. Tip-Off Banquet. The Der Dutchman serves honest to goodness Amish cooking — pan-fried chicken, mashed potatoes, noodles, green beans and pie — lots and lots of pie, apple, Dutch apple, blackberry, cherry, peach and more. Information technology’due south the type of cooking these families, or almost of them anyway, have grown up on.

The banquet kicks off the loftier school basketball season for Hiland Loftier Schoolhouse. All of the players and coaches, all of their parents and families, all of the boosters, they all gather in the banquet room to consume and visit.

Merely really, they gather to hear stories about Perry Reese Jr.

Reese had such an impact on the county that Dave Schlabach estimates there are almost 50 kids running around the area with Reese as a first or middle name.

Yous may recognize Reese’s name. In 2001, Gary Smith of Sports Illustrated wrote an epic story on how Reese, a blackness human, concluded upward in Holmes County, which at the fourth dimension, was 99.ix percent white. In the eastern part of the canton, that number was actually 100 pct, with most of that population being either Amish or Mennonite. Both religions come up from the Protestant tradition known as Anabaptism and are often confused by outsiders. While both groups believe in uncomplicated living, Mennonites limited that belief differently from Amish, who believe one must remove him or herself from contemporary society equally much every bit possible.

Smith wrote the slice after Reese died in 2000 of a encephalon tumor, a death that devastated the community. Reese had such an touch on the county that Dave Schlabach estimates there are about 50 kids running effectually the area with Reese as a first or middle name.

Reese nevertheless, coached boys’ basketball. Smith’s story details the magical season of 1991-92, one that started with four boys being caught stealing from local businesses and ended with the team winning the state title.

Schlabach took over the girls’ varsity team that same season.

“It actually encouraged me to build a good programme and to provide the opportunity for our kids to play in a state championship,” he says, “so they could see what it was all about.”

In 2001, one yr after Reese’s expiry, Schlabach, whose brother Mark coaches the boys’ squad at Hiland, started the annual banquet. The sole purpose of the banquet was to keep the memory of Reese alive in Eastern Holmes County, to tell the younger generations about the man who meant so much to them, not just on the basketball game court, but off it too.

“At to the lowest degree my players get to hear, one time a year, stories about Charabanc Reese,” Schlabach says. “But it’due south harder and harder. You lot tell the story, merely the kids don’t feel the effect. I don’t know what’s going to happen as the years laissez passer by.”

Over the years, Schlabach has brought in 10 erstwhile players to tell stories most Reese. He’s also brought in other people from outside the district, people nobody in Holmes County probable had always heard of, and however everyone who talks was deeply affected by Reese. Every year, there’s someone else coming from somewhere around the country — from North Carolina, Atlanta, Canton — to sit down and tell stories about how Perry Reese Jr. changed their life.

Photo: Halee Heironimus

Many of those stories center on how much Reese screamed at his players, merely they’re told with a knowing express joy and a smile, as if it’southward obvious
now
why everything Reese was doing was for their own skillful, fifty-fifty if information technology might not have been so articulate then. And all the stories always end in a i-on-ane talk with Reese, where hearts are opened and lessons are learned and love, real love, is felt. If it sounds like a cheesy sitcom, so be it. Everyone who experienced Reese is however moved as they retell the stories.

In 2011, one of the people doing the storytelling was Junior Raber, the star of the 1992 state champions. Raber was part of the magic of 1992 as much as Reese was. In the country semifinals, the Hawks were down past two with just seconds to get. Hiland had to bring the ball up the court, and Raber heaved a shot from half-court at the buzzer. Information technology missed, but he was fouled. Raber knocked downwardly all three gratuitous throws and sent Hiland to the championship game, which they won handily.

Simply at the Tip-Off feast, he told all those younger players, boys and girls alike, not about the last-second shot, only about the time Bus Reese sent him to the locker room with three minutes left in a game because the coach didn’t like the mode he was acting. Raber, after all, had kicked a chair after existence taken out of the game. The chair went flying, and Reese looked at him and said “Get into the locker room.”

Afterwards the game, which Hiland won, Reese came storming into the locker room and went right after his star.

“He comes straight at me and laid into me,” Raber said.

And then, after everyone had showered up and was ready to leave, Reese approached Raber again.

“Junior, you lot’re riding habitation with me,” the coach said.

“Information technology was a heart-to-heart that we had on that drive,” Raber said at the feast. “He taught me a whole heck of a lot more than how to play basketball.”

That’s what Schlabach wants his girls to hear. He wants them to hear nearly Reese, and to know that he strives every unmarried day to be as much like Reese as he tin be.

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He’s hard on his girls. He’ll yank them out of games if they’re non playing difficult plenty. He’ll take away their iPhones if he’s non happy with practice. He’ll yell and scream at them at halftime or after a game. He’ll make them practice at 11 p.k. after a really bad game, and and so he’ll kick them out of practice if they’re nonetheless not working hard enough. He’ll practice annihilation it takes to get the accented most out of every girl on his squad. These stories virtually Reese show the girls why their jitney acts the way he does, lets them know that once y’all get beyond that bluster, there is someone who cares so incredibly much about the girls on that squad that he would exercise anything for them. And and then they volition do annihilation for him.

Because that’s how Coach Reese was.

Photo: Halee Heironimus

On the basketball court, it seems to have worked. Hiland has been to more Final Fours in Ohio than whatsoever other schoolhouse in all divisions. They’ve won four state championships. Forty-three players from this tiny little school in the hills of Holmes Canton have gone on to play all levels of higher basketball, including more than than a few in Segmentation I.

“I can probably practice things here that I couldn’t do everywhere,” Schlabach says. “But our parents empathize that nosotros have 100 per centum their best interest at heart. We’re not just trying to produce a good player or athlete, but great kids who are now business organisation leaders in our community. Our kids demand to exist challenged and disciplined, and that buy-in really creates a potent bond. I dubiousness that happens at other schools.”

There’south some other story virtually Reese that Schlabach likes to tell.

In 1994-95, Hiland was poised to have a great twelvemonth. Only then, as can oftentimes happen in sports, the Hawks’ two best guards both tore their ACLs about halfway through the season. The twenty-four hours Schlabach heard virtually the 2nd tear, he was sitting in his office right before exercise, moping.

Reese walked in and hit him upside the head.

“He reminded me that I still had 15 kids out there waiting on me to come to practice,” Schlabach says, “and how I walk out and arroyo that practice was going to determine the rest of our year.”

And, Schlabach says, “He reminded me that it wasn’t about me.”

“I finally figured it out,” he says at present. “The yr was never almost y’all as the coach. It was always about your players and getting them to where they needed to be.”


Throughout the second quarter, Hiland runs a full-court press against the Knights. Natalie Molnar, Carrie’s daughter, finds herself guarding Kennedy Schlabach — Dave’southward girl — and attaches herself to the three-indicate shooter like her mom used to adhere herself to point guards. West Holmes turns the ball over 10 times in the quarter. In that location are traveling calls and bad passes, all caused past how the Hawks fly to the brawl. Hiland gets few points out of these turnovers, though, because every time they go to shoot, at that place is a manus, or multiple hands, in the shooter’s confront.

Photo: Halee Heironimus

In a higher place:
Natalie Molnar

At halftime of the Due west Holmes-Hiland game, the score looks like one from the 1980s. West Holmes leads 15-13. The Knights take ii players who take already committed to playing higher basketball. Hannah Clark, whose female parent, Julie, played on the Westward Holmes team that fabricated it to state in the mid-1990s, will be playing at Division I Northern Kentucky. Brittleigh Macaulay will be playing at Segmentation Ii Ohio Dominican. Combined, they accept two points in the game.

Fans mill nearly in the stands, talking. Molnar talks with Randy Martin. Martin, 51, has attended just about every West Holmes girls’ basketball that’s been played, going dorsum to when he was a pupil in the late-1970s and early-80s. Now he drives a semi, delivering lumber effectually the county. He graduated from West Holmes in 1981, and in the mid-80s, he was ane of several men who Jack Van Reeth brought in to practise against the girls’ team.

Martin is a burly guy, and while he may not take been equally burly just later on graduating from high schoolhouse, he certainly would have seemed burly to a teenage girl, at least on the basketball court.

“He said he wanted u.s.a. to crude ‘em upwardly a little,” Martin says of Van Reeth over the din of the pep band.

That’s the general consensus: John Coakley, the official scorekeeper for West Holmes, Van Reeth and Molnar, they all say those practices were designed to create toughness in the girls.

“Sometimes they complained,” Van Reeth says, “only they soon learned that they didn’t complain.”

If anybody had a correct to complain, it may have been the men who were brought in to practise.

“Shane (Ridenbaugh) and Lisa Cline were and then freakishly strong, they roughed us up,” Martin says.

Today, the West Holmes defense is roughing upwardly the Hiland offense. Unfortunately, the same thing is happening on the other cease of the court.

“Hannah is getting past that starting time defender and thinking she is open,” Martin says.

“They need to accept reward of their size,” Molnar says.

“They haven’t washed that all season,” Martin says.


Basketball, more than whatever other sport, is 1 where excellent teamwork can vanquish pure athleticism. With brawl movement and actor movement and a keen understanding of what every unmarried person on the floor volition do in whatever given 2nd, and with the free energy and stamina to play harder than you’ve ever played before, a team of short girls from the relative heart of nowhere tin beat any city or parochial squad with super-athletic guards and towering post players in the pigment.

In Holmes County, they go this idea of teamwork. And it starts with the Amish and Mennonite communities that call the canton home.

Photograph: Halee Heironimus

During the last demography, 42 percent of Holmes County residents were Amish. There are even predictions that the county could be the first in the state to be bulk Amish, and that it could happen by 2030.

You only need to watch a barn-raising to understand how the Amish, and their less conservative brethren, the Mennonite, work as a team. Terminal May in Wayne County, the county directly to the due north of Holmes, a fire destroyed the workshop of an Amish shed and swing-set up builder.

Two days later, while the rubble was however smoldering, the local Amish community already had a new and bigger workshop framed. Less than two weeks afterward the fire, the edifice was done.

Or consider healthcare. The Amish exercise non buy health insurance. If someone gets ill, anybody in the community fries in to pay the bills.

Nosotros’re from completely different cultures, and yet we find ways, when we need to, to come together and do whatever we need to exerciseMark Lonsinger

How does this translate to basketball game success? Well, on the Eastward Holmes side of the county, where the vast bulk of the Amish and Mennonite alive, Schlabach says that half his players speak Pennsylvania Dutch, which means they have Amish relatives. Even Schlabach’due south dad was built-in and raised Amish. In fact, at that place’s a huge population in Holmes County of former Amish, folks who felt they could live simply and maintain that mindset while participating in other parts of society. About all of those onetime Amish at present attend one of the more than a dozen Mennonite churches in the county. The sect shares a similar philosophy only is non so strict.  Mennonites, for example, can wear regular clothing, drive cars … and play basketball game.  Generally speaking, the Amish don’t play organized sports because they believe they promote competitiveness and immodesty.

Nevertheless, that piece of work ethic and that want to help i another and play as a team translates well into basketball, and has made its mode to the other side of the county besides. When Carrie Molnar talked about why the teams from the 1980s were and then good, she kept talking nigh how everyone knew their function and nobody ever tried to pace outside of information technology.

Marker Lonsinger likes to talk about the fact that the county has no incorporated cities, and well-nigh no heavy manufacture. What it does take is independent villages with a lot of mom-and-pop businesses. Y’all take, essentially, people taking care of themselves, until they demand to come together. And and then they do.

“It’due south a really interesting dynamic,” Lonsinger says. “I can’t explain it. We’re not all Amish. We’re from completely different cultures, and withal we find ways, when we need to, to come together and do whatever we need to practice.”

Lonsinger thinks that mental attitude has obviously been passed down, from generation to generation, to today’due south basketball game players. And that, he says, starts to explain why they’re so successful.


After halftime, the Hiland students pulled off their white T-shirts to reveal black shirts. At present, the whiteout behind the Hawks’ demote has been replaced by a black hole.

Offensively, both teams are able to brand a few more shots. This includes one possession where Hannah Clark dribbles past a Hiland defender into the paint and lays a shot off the backboard, virtually uncontested, a rare occurrence in the game.

Photo: Halee Heironimus

By the finish of the tertiary quarter, on the back of Clark who scored 10 in the quarter, Westward Holmes leads Hiland 29-20.

Lisa Patterson continues to pace to and fro in front of her bench. She’south not loud, at least not while play is ongoing. If she is loud, if she yells at her players during timeouts, it’s drowned out by the fans and the band.

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At first, Patterson didn’t want to be the head passenger vehicle of the Knights. Just she’s been in that position for 10 years now. In each of the last 4 seasons, W Holmes has fabricated it to the Concluding Four. They’ve been to 3 championship games and, in 2012-thirteen, the team went 29-0 and won it all.

The last time a team from Due west Holmes had finished a season unbeaten, Patterson had been a sophomore.

Afterwards high school, she went and played basketball at Walsh College. She got a teaching caste and moved back to Holmes County, to Killbuck, where she grew up. She took a job at West Holmes Heart School as an intervention specialist and started coaching centre school volleyball and basketball.

Then the caput charabanc position opened up, and not a lot of people practical. There was as well much force per unit area to exist groovy, it seemed.

“The athletic director at the time sought me out,” Patterson says. “He said, ‘I think you should practise this.’ I said ‘No.’”

The able-bodied manager asked iii times, and like her coach, Jack Van Reeth, she finally relented.

“I did it because I knew what it felt similar to win a land championship,” she says. “I wanted these kids who are so very talented, who are going through here now, I wanted them to experience that. I saturday and watched some teams who I felt could have gotten in that location, and for some reason, there was something missing.”

What was missing, she thought, was that connectedness to the past.

“I felt similar I could make that connection.”

Photo: Halee Heironimus

In that location were other connections, also.

One daughter on those early teams of Patterson’s was Lindsy Snyder. She was the daughter of Shane Ridenbaugh, now Shane Snyder, from the get-go two state championships.

And so came Shane’south other girl, Laina, and Carrie’south daughter, Emily. They were the core of the team that went 29-0. And the connections didn’t end there. In 2012, Lee Ann Race took over the athletic managing director position at the school. She played on the championship teams of the 1980s. And the school’s superintendent at the fourth dimension, Kris Pipes-Perone, was a point guard on all three teams that won state championships.

When Shane Snyder talks about West Holmes basketball, it’southward oft hard to tell which team she is talking about, her teams or her daughters’ teams. It doesn’t really matter, because the same could exist said for both.

“We expected to win,” she says. “That was a lot of pressure. They expected us to win. The bulldoze that class had. They were workhorses. They know what information technology means to work.”

All of those connections have added up to 221 wins and just 37 losses in Patterson’south coaching career. In fact, the only W Holmes coach who has won more games than Patterson for the school is Van Reeth, with 321.

And while Patterson will say she’s very different from the human being who coached her — she says if she coached like Van Reeth, she wouldn’t have a task for long — others aren’t so sure.

“She a good bit reminds me of Jack,” says Coakley, the long-time scorekeeper at Due west Holmes, who also grew up and lives in Killbuck and knew Lisa when she was just a little girl. “She’southward the boss. Yous can have all the assistants you want, but she’due south the boss. And them girls know it. Lisa is a proficient bit similar him.”

Patterson, like Van Reeth, is placidity at kickoff, giving just curt answers to questions. But once you get both of them going, they open up up. And Coakley, who accompanies Patterson on scouting trips and rides home with her after games simply like he did with Van Reeth, says she’s just every bit friendly equally the old coach, but similar Jack, you accept to go to know her.

Carrie Molnar knew that when Patterson took over, the programme was going dorsum to where information technology had been for so many years.

“Information technology got intense,” she says. “She has expectations, and a plan in her mind. Everyone knew she had been effectually the plan, and we figured she’s gonna wanna keep some tradition.”

One of those traditions was Coakley. He had stopped being the official scorekeeper when Van Reeth left in 1998. But when Patterson took over in 2007, she chosen him. She wanted Coakley to be her scorekeeper because she saw him as a skilful luck amuse.

He hedged, until Patterson put her foot downwardly.

“John,” she said, “y’all kept score when I played, and you can go along score when I coach.”

Coakley said OK. He said in that location was no doubt who was in accuse. Information technology was just like the days of Van Reeth.


In Hiland’southward previous three games, the squad has averaged 79 points per game. They won those games past an boilerplate of sixty points. Simply tonight, nothing is falling. The West Holmes defense is suffocating.

Photo: Halee Heironimus

Schlabach stands on the sideline and watches, quietly. He’south inverse over the concluding 25 years. If he has to yell, he’ll do it in the locker room, which he will do loudly and often when this game is over.

In the stands, Molnar continues to dig her fingernails into her cheek.

“The girls are tired,” she says. “The emotions are too much, and the game is simply besides physical.”

Hiland pulls within five points — 34-29 — with less than 3 minutes to go, and has the ball. Senior guard Brittany Miller misses an open 3-pointer and Westward Holmes gets the rebound. On the next possession, Hiland misses an open shot but gets an offensive board, just to miss an open put-back. They become the rebound again and miss some other open layup. And so again. They shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot and can’t become anything to fall, as if the openness, something that was and then strange to this game, has thrown them off.

That series ultimately adamant the game. West Holmes made a few free throws nearly the terminate and put the game away.

“I can breathe a petty fleck now,” Molnar says.

The last score: Due west Holmes 39, Hiland 31. Hiland fabricated just 10 out of its 46 shots on the dark.

It’s the everyman scoring game in Schlabach’s 25-year coaching career.


Before Schlabach built his abode just northeast of Millersburg about 10 years ago, he outset built a gym. He jokes that his married woman says he’s just like an Amish human being, who builds the barn before the business firm. The gym is a big brick building back backside the house, which itself is at the back of a long driveway. A split drive leads to the gym, with enough parking for a dozen or and then cars. Within, there’s a full courtroom, albeit a little shorter than regulation, and high ceilings. The floor is a rubberized surface, non a great every bit hardwood, but better than the tile on concrete you find in places like church gyms and uncomplicated schools.

This building is almost always unlocked, and if it’s not unlocked, anybody knows where Schlabach hides the key.

Anyone from Hiland (or actually anywhere, mostly) can sign in and work out in the gym. It’s a identify where teenagers hang out in Holmes Canton, because, well, there isn’t much else to do.

“When I was growing up,” Schlabach says, “I was e’er looking for places to play.”

During the summer, anywhere between 50 and 75 kids will sign into the gym and shoot or workout on a given day.

In Gary Smith’s story on Perry Reese, a central theme was the fact that the charabanc’south door was always open. Players hung out at his house playing cards or video games all the time. Information technology was a way for Reese to build relationships.

For Schlabach, that’s some other reason he built the gym. It’s just one more way for him to show his players that he’s there for them. And as if the gym isn’t enough, he’south putting in an in-ground pool right beside it, so in the summer players can cool off after a hard conditioning.

Often times, he says, afterwards a rough game, he will become domicile and sit down to figure stats, look out the window into the dark and see the lights pop on in the gym. It doesn’t always happen — Schlabach’s career coaching tape is 552-87 — just it does frequently enough that he is non surprised. And when it does, he’ll look at a clock and run across that it is 10:30 or 11 at dark. Then he’ll check the video feed from the gym to meet who is in there. Invariably, it volition be one of his all-time players.

“When I was a role player, the last thing I wanted to do was get home and heed to mom and dad talk well-nigh how I played. Equally a child, that’southward the last thing you lot want to do.”

The gym, he says, is kind of a sanctuary.

Photo: Halee Heironimus

In March 1984, the year West Holmes won its first country championship, more than 7,000 people from Holmes County collection over an hour s to Columbus to sentinel the championship game. Less than thirty,000 people lived in the canton at the fourth dimension, which meant just well-nigh a quarter of the entire canton was in Columbus that dark.

Molnar remembers the announcer at that game saying that he hoped the last person out of Holmes Canton had turned the lights off.

The thing about Holmes County, though, is that the low-cal will ever be burning, lit from the successes of years past. There will always exist a calorie-free on, and it will unremarkably exist in a gym, as some girl heads out late at nighttime to shoot baskets.

When Schlabach got habitation from the game against West Holmes, the lite in the gym was already on. His daughter, Kennedy, walked down to the gym and joined three other girls as they shot and shot and shot. They went to piece of work in that gym tardily at nighttime, because that’south what so many girls in the past have done after a hard game, considering that’southward the right thing to do, to work harder, to get improve, to shoot until you feel like you can’t shoot anymore, and and so shoot some more, building something better, all together, afterwards every loss.

Source: https://www.sbnation.com/longform/2016/2/10/10937414/the-gyms-of-holmes-county