‘We’re only as good as the way we treat others’

Darrel Grooms of the Venture Hawks slices his way through the defense of the Adams County Sheriff’s Department on his way to a game-high 20 points as the Hawks made it two in a row over the Sheriff’s Eagles, winning by a final score of 45-42.

Hawks, Sheriff’s Dept. put on another fantastic show –

Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –

The theme of the day may have been expressed best when special guest Paul Daugherty from the Cincinnati Enquirer stepped to the microphone.  Daugherty, who has chronicled the life of his daughter Jillian, who has Down’s Syndrome, told the capacity crowd assembled at West Union High School, “The biggest point here today is that we’re only as good as the way we treat each others and judging from the turnout here today, you guys treat each other pretty good.”
Daugherty was the special guest on Sunday afternoon at WUHS for the second annual battle on the hardwood between the Venture Hawks and the Adams County Sheriff’s Department Eagles.  Last year it was the Hawks winning big behind a 46-point effort from “Dunking” Darrel Grooms, and the Eagles were looking for revenge, with Coach and Sheriff Kimmy Rogers bringing into the game a much younger and more athletic roster in an attempt to reverse his team’s fortunes.
Despite the Sheriff’s younger roster and his pre-game attempts to “bribe” the officials, it was still the Hawks who entertained the full house and made it two in a row over the Eagles, though the law enforcement group took it down to the wire this year before falling 45-42.
Sheriff Rogers may have summed up the effort best, “Their defense was a little better, their offense was a little better, they were in a little better shape, and probably had a little better coach.”
After a stirring rendition of the National Anthem by the effervescent Maria Sexton, the action began and it was evident from the opening tip that the Eagles were in trouble.  The tip went to Grooms, who proceeded to score on a layup and the Hawks were in the lead for good and Grooms, despite being hampered by a knee injury, was on his way to slicing and dicing the Eagles’ defense for a game-high 20 points.
With Grooms having to spend time on the bench to nurse his injury, Hawks’ coach Wanda Massie need some other players in her lineup to step up and pick up the scoring slack and she got that from Kenny Nichols with 8 points, Michael Bailey with 6 points, fan favorite T.J. Liston with 5 points, Keith Huffman with 4, and Chasity Glascock with 2.

Kenny Nichols of the Venture Hawks splits a pair of Sheriff’s Department defenders on his way to the basket during action from Sunday’s game at West Union High School. Nichols scored 8 points in the 45-42 win for the Hawks.

The Eagles took advantage of Grooms’ absence and kept the game close, with the aid of some pinpoint three-point shooting by B.J. James.  The game went right down to the wire with the Hawks up by three, but a last-second three-point attempt by the Eagles was off the mark and the celebration ensued as the rivalry game again went the way of the more talented and well-prepared Hawks’ squad and they proudly displayed their championship trophy.
“You can just look into the stand and see all the smiles and tell what this game means to our community,” said Coach Massie.  “To our group, this means the world.  They love all this support and have talked about this game for weeks and were so excited to get to play.  The rivalry is great and we want to thank Sheriff Rogers for what he has done.”
“Speaking for the Sheriff’s Office, about every day we deal either tragedy or disruption, so this is something we look forward to,” said Sheriff Rogers.  “To come down here and see the big crowd and everyone having a good time is special.  The Venture Hawks are great and it is kind of like a vacation for us.”
They day was packed full of other activities besides the game itself, including a half-time performance by the Ignite Dance Team, who once again had the crowd on its feet.  The event was emceed by Gary McClellan and Maddie Toole and broadcast on CC103 Radio by Don Bowles and Brett Spencer, with Daugherty as their special broadcast partner.  The above the board officials who would not accept any undue influence from the Sheriff were Phil Rhonemus, Tom Smith, and Jessica Thompson.
All of the proceeds from the day go to the Special Olympics and People First of Adams County and the event was sponsored by the National Bank of Adams County, First State Banks, State Farm Insurance (Tony Staggs), West Union Giovanni’s Pizza, C103, and Comfort Home Care.
Keeping the crowd fired up were the Hawks’ cheerleading squad, composed of Diane Penny, Maria Sexton, Andrea Spornhauer, and Kim Ward.  The Ignite Dance Team members are Alexis Barr, Rachel Buschard, Kim Crum, Darrel Grooms, T.J. Liston, Diane Penny, Maria Sexton, Andrea Spornhauer, and Kim Ward.  The cheerleaders and dance team are coached by Cece Hummel, Talhia Jones, and Amanda Klickner.

Dylan Lowe, left, from the Venture Hawks provides the defense on Brian Newland from the Sheriff’s Department in action from Sunday’s game at WUHS.