Hey HardCorps---How about these 6 games between Middletown and Hamilton that were played at the Cincinnati Gardens during the Lucas/Middletown 76 game winning streak---most of these crowds were bigger than crowds that the Cincinnati Royals ever got during their time in Cincinnati from 1957-1972. Two different games of the six had over 13,000 fans---Middletown in those days played the toughest schedule in Ohio as my Dad's good friend Coach Paul Walker told me many times as they worked together in the summer at River Downs in Cincinnati.Lol I get where you are going. Lol The Middletown Middies still played a tough schedule.
Jan. 6, 1956
-- Middies Sophomore Jerry Lucas scored 32 points before a crowd of 8,578 in his first Gardens game. In the closest game in the series, the lead changed 20 times before the Middies won, 81-79 on a Lucas basket with 37 seconds to play. Gary (Spud) Hornsby's 30 points was the highest for a Big Blue player in the Gardens matchups.
For Lucas, it was the start of a basketball career that included three-time All-American status and an NCAA championship at Ohio State, an Olympic championship in 1960, and rookie-of-the-year honors with the Cincinnati Royals in the first of his 11 seasons in the NBA.
Feb. 10, 1956
-- The Lucas-Hornsby shoot-out was renewed when the Middies breezed, 87-70, before 13,167, a Gardens crowd then exceeded only by 13,521 when the Harlem Globetrotters played the College All-Stars there April 14, 1950. Lucas and Hornsby had 30 and 29 points, respectively.
Jan. 5, 1957
-- Lucas totaled 49 points in leading the unbeaten Middies to an easy 86-69 victory over once-beaten Hamilton before 7,864 fans. Jay Byrd added 12 and Bob Reed 10 for the winners; Paul Riggins (21), Ralph Brunner (13), and Tony Blaine and Ed Pentecost (10 each) for Hamilton.
Feb. 22, 1957
-- The Middies extended their win streak to 43 games in beating Hamilton, 48-36, as 8,635 saw the Big Blue play a deliberate game. Only six points were recorded in the second quarter, a period in which the Blue's Ralph Brunner dribbled the ball for two consecutive minutes. Hamilton trailed 33-30 before a fourth-period Middies spurt. Scoring leaders were Lucas (28) and Larry Emerick (10) for the Middies; and Jim Lacey and Paul Riggins, each with 10 for Hamilton.
Jan. 27, 1958
-- The unbeaten rivals ranked 1-2 in the Ohio AP poll. The 13,649 attendance was the most in the 20-game series. The Middies won, 64-49, as the 6-10 Lucas scored 31 points while becoming the first Ohio high school player to score 2,000 points in a career. (He would finish his career with 2,460.) Tom Sizer netted 22 for the Middies while Tony Blaine scored 13, and Paul Riggins and Jim Lacey each 12 for Hamilton.
Feb. 7, 1958
-- Lucas scored 34 in an 87-67 win before 10,386 people. Larry Emerick had 18 as the Middies won their 68th in a row. Hamilton leaders were Tony Blaine (17), Jim Lacey (14), Jerry Johnson (11) and Bruce Hunter (10). In six Gardens games, Lucas scored 204 points, a 34-point average.
The Middies in three seasons won 76 straight before losing, 63-62, to Columbus North in the state semifinal game in Columbus in 1958. During the streak, Coach Paul Walker's team won state titles in 1956 and 1957.
Compiled by Jim Blount from the Hamilton Journal
For some older Butler County fans, Cincinnati Gardens memories focus on Hamilton-Middletown rivalry - Newspaper Columns by Jim Blount
Local history specialist, Jim Blount, has made available his extensive collection of Hamilton Journal-News columns, and continues to contribute articles of interest.