John Rice caught the basketball bug as a player at the former Bladensburg (Ohio) High School, where as a senior he was part of a 19-3 Blades team and the school s last graduating class in 1963.
That bug is still firmly in place some 44 years later as the former longtime Whiteford coach succeeds Keith Lowe as boys head basketball coach at Bowsher.
Lowe was a longtime Rebels assistant coach before taking over as head coach.
He resigned shortly after this past season after three years and a 17-40 record.
Rice, 61, has compiled a 459-301 career record as a boys head coach at four schools, including a 411-245 mark over 30 seasons (1973-2003) at Whiteford, where he led the Bobacts to seven Tri-County Conference titles and eight district championships at the Class D/Division 4 level in Michigan.
His last boys team at Whiteford went 23-1 and 14-0 in TCC play in 2002-03. True to his coaching bug, Rice also served double duty, coaching the Bobcat girls team. He was the junior varsity coach under head girls coach Kris Hubbard for 23 years (1980-2003) before taking over as the girls varsity coach for two seasons (2003-05) and posting a 25-17 record.
Rice, a native of Mt. Vernon, Ohio, worked the late shift at two different jobs right out of high school before figuring out that wasn t the life he wanted. He had harbored a desire to coach and teach, so he quit his job and enrolled at Salem College in West Virginia, where he earned his bachelor s degree. He later earned a master s at Xavier.
My passion is coaching basketball, Rice said. I love coaching and I love challenges, and I know this is a challenge at Bowsher. We re going to run a program that plays by the rules and plays fundamentally sound basketball.
We re going to play hard, play smart and play together. I ve stuck with those three things for a long time and they ve worked well. I m just interested in making kids into better student-athletes. Every day they step on that court I want them to improve as individuals and I want us to improve as a team. If we can do that, we will be successful.
Rice got his start with two seasons (1969-71) at Danville (Ohio), where his teams went 27-12. He arrived at Whiteford in 1973 and retired from teaching at the school in 2005.
After his final season as boys coach at Whiteford, Rice went 17-27 in two seasons at Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (2003-05), spent a season as an assistant under Corey Tucker in the City League at Woodward, and last season went 4-17 with an all-underclassman starting lineup at Flat Rock (Mich.).
It s the caliber of basketball in Toledo and the style of play that I like, Rice said. I ve inquired [about coaching jobs] many times over the years, but with the union [hiring process] it was always difficult to get your foot in the door, and I had so many years as a teacher at Whiteford that I didn t want to give that up. Now that I m retired it s a perfect scenario.
The best singles and doubles players in northwest Ohio have advanced to the district, and will begin with opening-round matches in Divisions I and II today at Sandusky and Port Clinton, respectively.
In Division I, Derek Than of St. John s, the City League s No. 1 singles champion, won the Bracket I sectional at Jermain Park. He enters as one of four senior top seeds. The others are Kyle Collete of Findlay, who won the sectional at Ada, Kyle Doyle of Anthony Wayne, who won the Bracket II sectional at Jermain, and Eliot Parker of Fremont Ross, the sectional champ at Sandusky.
In Division II at Sandusky, the four sectional champions who enter as No. 1 seeds include freshmen Eyad Jaara of Maumee Valley and Blake Troller of Port Clinton, junior Adam Swick of Lima Central Catholic, and sophomore Wes Nitzsche of Mansfield Christian.
The top doubles teams in both divisions also begin with first-round matches today at their respective sites. The tourneys concluded in both divisions at Port Clinton on Saturday. The top two singles players and doubles teams in D-I and the top three finishers in singles and doubles in D-II advance to the state tournament in Columbus (May 25-26).
The Carey girls got a scare, but everything turned out well for the Blue Devils at the Midland Athletic League track and field championships at Fostoria.
Carey nipped Seneca East 108-107 with Mohawk (101.5) and Fremont St. Joseph (101) not far behind.
Seneca East made things interesting by setting a meet record in winning the 1600-meter relay, but Carey s fourth-place finish was enough to claim the title.
Senior Danielle Jacoby led the Blue Devils by setting meet records in both the 200 and 400, while also winning the 100. She finished second in the long jump.
On the boys side, Hopewell-Loudon had an easier time with a 168-119 edge over runner-up Seneca East. The Chieftains earned the title because of their depth as they claimed just five event titles, three of which were by relay teams.
Liberty-Benton swept the Blanchard Valley Conference championships. The Eagle boys won the BVC for the sixth straight year and 14th time in the last 15 seasons, while the L-B girls claimed their eighth consecutive crown and 22nd in the past 24 years.
On the boys side, Liberty-Benton senior Michael Busch was named the meet s outstanding performer thanks to victories in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles as well as spots on the winning 400 and 1600 relays. Freshman Seth Butler also was a key runner for L-B, winning the 1600 and 3200 while running on the winning 1600 and 3200 relays.
Senior Kesha Brooks led the Eagle girls, setting a meet record in the 800 and anchoring three victorious relays to give her 12 BVC titles in her career. Liberty-Benton collected 11 first-place finishes overall.
Napoleon defended both its boys and girls titles at the Greater Buckeye Conference championship meet run on the Wildcats home track. The Napoleon boys earned a 166-109 victory over second-place Fremont Ross, while the Wildcat girls held a 161-119 edge over runner-up Marion Harding.
Lucas Oberhaus won the 300 hurdles and long jump to claim two of Napoleon s eight individual crowns. On the girls side, Napoleon s Jenna Lauf won both hurdle events to earn two of the team s seven event titles.
The Hilltop boys and Pettisville girls were champions of the Buckeye Border Conference meet at Edon.
Senior Michael Polley led the Cadets by winning four events, claiming the long jump as well as the three sprint events. Hilltop won four other events to finish with a 181-124 advantage over second-place Pettisville to earn a second straight title.
Pettisville girls won with 175 points to runner-up Edon s 155.
Leading the way for Pettisville was Dani Rufenacht, who won the three distance events, and Alyssa Ritchey, who won both hurdle races and added a pair of second-place finishes.
Tinora swept the Green Meadows Conference meet at Ayersville. The boys outran second-place Edgerton 128-95 , while the girls beat Ayersville 142 -124.
The Ram boys were led by Tom Postema, who won the two throwing events, and Richie Hughes, who took first in both the 100 and 200. The Tinora girls claimed titles in four of five field events as well as two relays.
Sandusky Perkins won its fifth Sandusky Bay Conference boys title in the last six years with Edison taking second.
The Perkins girls won their sixth consecutive SBC title. Clyde was second.
The Defiance boys and Ottawa-Glandorf girls claimed narrow victories in the Western Buckeye League at Kenton.
The Defiance boys earned their second straight title with a 140-122 edge over second-place Lima Shawnee, while the O-G girls took first with 97 points to Defiance s 85.