HOWARD — It wasn’t about the final score. Or the fact that former OSU basketball stand-out Jay Burson stole the show. Saturday night’s basketball game that pitted OSU alumni against an East Knox team was all about the fan-fare.
Dallas Durfee, 16, of Howard, was taking in as much OSU basketball as he could on Saturday. After watching the OSU-Eastern Michigan game earlier in the day, he was happy to be standing in line to get an OSU basketball signed.
Robert Fields, 15, came to watch the OSU players and to get his T-shirt signed.
“We saw Kurt Coleman and Brian Rolle at the OSU basketball game today,” Fields said while he stood in line to meet Jamario O’Neal. “They were just walking through the stadium.”
While blood may be thicker than water, allegiances Saturday night had nothing to do with family.
Mitch McDaniel, 15, told the News he was there to watch his dad, East Knox boys basketball coach Don McDaniel.
“I want him to get stuffed,” the young McDaniel said with a smile.
Brandon Beach, 15, brought a pennant with Anthony Gonzalez’ signature to add a few more names.
“I like to watch OSU football and basketball, but I like basketball the most,” Beach said.
Longtime East Knox teacher Frank Stoehr characteristically arrived in purple — including solid purple shoes — to support former students and colleagues, but at halftime he was an excited OSU fan.
“It’s lights-out Burson. He was always a killer on the court,” Stoehr said.
Ten-year-old Spencer Enderle was first in line to meet former quarterback Todd Boeckman.
“This is really good,” Enderle said. “I’m really happy and honored to get an autograph from someone who played for Ohio State.”
Responses like that are why Boeckman is happy to be on the team, making his debut with the squad Saturday night.
“It’s my chance to give back to the people,” Boeckman said in between autographs. “They have been cheering for us for years. I’m just glad to give back.”
Steven Lybarger and buddy James Kirk, both 8, were excited to get autographs from the OSU players stating it was “cool” and fun to watch them play basketball.
Buckeye All-Stars coach Gary Bower said the team was assembled to help athletic booster clubs across the state with fund-raising efforts.
“This is just a great time for these guys,” Bower said of the former OSU players. “We try to average 20 games a year and it’s a great benefit for the booster clubs.”
East Knox coach Donnie Rogers said the ‘dogs practiced together only twice in preparation for Saturday’s game but was confident in his team’s ability to compete.
“We are looking good,” Rogers said during pre-game warm ups. Unfortunately, the team wasn’t prepared for the talents of Burson, who put up nearly 40 of his team’s 79 points.
“We can’t seem to get anything to drop,” Rogers said at halftime. After struggling in the first half, the Bulldogs came out strong after a half-time practice and scored 19 points in the third quarter and 22 points in the fourth quarter. Steals by Brian Hess, Bo Schwaberow and Divan helped boost the momentum of the men in purple.
Leading scorers for the Bulldogs were Hess, Mike Mazza and Schwaberow.
Steve Rehring, Jon Skinner, Ben Person, Curtis Terry and Thomas Matthews rounded out the Buckeye All-Stars team.
Ryan Gallwitz, Korey Kidwell, John Marschhausen, Cody Reese, Phil Schultz, Dean Taylor, Karl Gant, Ron Looney and Matt Pope filled the roster for the East Knox team.
Final score was 66-79.