Legends to be honored at OVAC HOF banquet
A trio of touted basketball players plus two highly-honored football players comprise the 10th class of Legends of Ohio Valley Athletic Conference schools.
Tom Rataiczak, Executive Secretary of the OVAC, announced the five Legends selections will be feted at the 11th annual OVAC Hall of Fame banquet on August 16 at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling.
The honorees include East Liverpool’s Porter Mackey. who led Ohio in scoring in 1936; Caldwell’s Connie Sanford Richardson, a three-sport standout and All-Ohio basketball honoree in 1982; Benwood Union’s Andy Tonkovich, who is the only Ohio Valley product drafted No. 1 overall by the National Basketball Association; Magnolia’s John Wood, captain of the 1931 one-class All-West Virginia football team; and Martins Ferry’s Bill Young, an honored starter on Purple Rider football and basketball teams which won, or shared, two Ohio state championships in 1941.
Four will be honored posthumously-Mackey, Tonkovich, Wood and Young.
The OVAC Hall of Fame, sponsored by Bob Robinson Chevrolet-Cadillac in Wheeling, and the OVAC Sports Museum are located inside WesBanco Arena.
“The Legends of OVAC schools is an effort to honor athletes and coaches who competed prior to the conference origin in 1943 or while their schools were not members of the conference,” Rataiczak said.
Capsule summaries of the honorees follow:
PORTER MACKEY (East Liverpool, 1936 Class) – In the final year of the jump ball-after-every-goal era, this Potter shooting whiz also noted for his passing finesse was listed by media as leading Ohio preps in scoring.
He tallied 408 points during a senior season when the Potters recorded an 18-3 record. Rules were changed in 1937 to eliminate the center jump after every goal and scoring totals, both for individuals and teams, generally increased with the faster, uninterrupted play.
In the era of low scoring games, the four-year Potter performer set a school career scoring record and reached a game high of 28 points three times during his final season.
He was recognized on local all-star teams but played before the All-Ohio selections were originated by The Associated Press in 1939.
Mackey, who was among the charter inductees into the East Liverpool High School Sports Hall of Fame, is acclaimed by some Potter historians as the school’s finest high school cager.
He retired to Peoria, Ariz., and is deceased.
CONNIE SANFORD RICHARDSON (Caldwell, 1982) – A 10-time, three-sport All-Pioneer Valley Conference honoree regarded as the best all-round female athlete in school history, she capped her basketball career by earning second team UPI All-Ohio Class A honors.
As a senior, she led the Redskins to an 18-4 record and averaged 22.7 points and 13.7 rebounds while shooting 65 percent from the floor. As a junior, she had norms of 25.2 points and 19.5 rebounds. Her sophomore averages were 17.6 points and 17.3 rebounds. There was no team her freshman year because of gymnasium construction problems.
Her career totals were 1,254 points and 855 rebounds with three All-PVC plus team MVP honors.
She also was a four-time All-PVC pick in softball and three times in volleyball.
A four-year starter at Heidelberg College, the 5-foot-10 forward led the Ohio Athletic Conference in scoring (20.1) and rebounding (14.2) as a senior and earned first team Kodak All-America honors. A four-time team MVP and three-year co-captain, she was twice All-OAC. She scored 1,691 career points with a school record 1,161 rebounds.
The winningest coach in Otterbein College history, she just completed her 23rd season with a 319-276 record.
She resides in Westerville, Ohio.
ANDY TONKOVICH (Benwood Union, 1940) – The 6-foot-1 forward-guard and leading Ironman scorer earned All-Ohio Valley Athletic Association (OVAA) honors and was mentioned on the all-class West Virginia all-state selection before earning college and professional fame. The OVAA was the predecessor to the OVAC.
After high school, he served in the U.S. Armed Forces before enrolling at Marshall in 1944. He played four seasons with the Thundering Herd and graduated in 1948 with a school career record of 1,578 points. He was captain as a junior. and second leading scorer, of the 32-5 record 1947 team which won the school’s only national championship, the NAIB (now NAIA) Tournament in Kansas City, Mo. He earned first team Little All-America honors as a junior and second team as a senior. He has been featured with a full-page photo in the Marshall media guides and was among the charter basketball honorees into the Marshall Athletic Hall of Fame. He also is in the NAIA Hall of Fame.
He became the only Ohio Valley athlete drafted overall No. 1 in the National Basketball Association Draft when the Providence Steamrollers selected him in 1948. He played the 1949 season before returning to the Ohio Valley to be a player-coach with the local professional team, the Wheeling Blues, from 1950-52 in the Tri-State Pro Basketball League.
He then served as basketball coach from 1952-54 at St. John’s Central High School in Bellaire and guided the Irish to a 16-6 record in his first season.
He relocated to Florida where he passed away in 2006.
JOHN WOOD (Magnolia, 1932) – This triple-threat football player is the only Blue Eagle athlete selected as captain of the All-West Virginia one-class honor roll picked from 1917-47 before class selections started in 1948. This is comparable to the current Kennedy Award given to the state Player of the Year.
He played quarterback, running back, defensive back, drop-kick placekicker and punter as a 5-foot-11, 165-pound three-year standout. He was shifted from running back as a sophomore and junior to quarterback as a senior and led the Blue Eagles to a 7-3 record while playing mostly larger schools. One of the losses was 14-6 to overall state champion Benwood Union, which selected Wood to its All-Opponent Team.
Wood also was a two-year basketball team captain and a standout tennis player in summer tournaments.
He accepted a football scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh, then a national power which lost only 10 games from 1930-38. He played three seasons, mostly at defensive back, for teams with records of 8-1, 7-1-2 and 8-1-1. In 1936, Pitt upset then-unbeaten Notre Dame, 26-0 as Wood broke the game open with a long interception return. He also played in the 1937 Rose Bowl win over Washington, 21-0.
After graduation, he turned to college coaching/teaching at Harvard and Northeastern before joining the Wesleyan University staff in Middletown, Conn. He was head basketball coach from 1947-68 and also coached football and golf. He passed away in 1970.
BILL YOUNG (Martins Ferry, 1943) – He was a three-sport standout in a Golden Era of Purple Rider sports. He was honored on Ferry teams which won, or shared, two Ohio state championships in 1941.
He was the only sophomore starter on the Lou Groza-led 1941 basketball team which capped a 27-2 record by winning the first Ohio basketball team title-the largest Class A-of any Ohio Valley school. He was named All-Tournament. Later that year, the junior led Ferry to a 10-0 regular season football record and an invitational to play Toledo Libbey for a mythical state title. The teams tied, 14-14. In regular season, Ferry outscored 10 foes by 333-19 including a 54-6 rout of Steubenville.
The rare four-year Rider football letterman and three-year basketball starter on teams with records of 27-2, 22-3 and 24-1, he was team captain in both sports. As a senior on the 24-1 record state semifinalist – the first unbeaten regular season team in school history, he was team MVP on a squad featuring sophomore Alex Groza, an OVAC Hall of Famer and later college All-America and Olympic star.
In 1942, Young became the first Rider to wear football jersey No. 44, a school tradition for several years to the team’s top player. He also played baseball.
After graduation, he entered U.S. military service before returning to enroll at West Liberty State. He starred on three teams swhich lost only one gam. He earned Little All-America and Small All-America honors in 1947 when he led the nation in rushing with 1,353 yards. He held the West Virginia Conference career total offense record until the 1970’s. He’s a charter member of the WLS Athletics Hall of Fame.
Young retired to live in Martins Ferry and is deceased.