Showcase honors Leach

YOUNGSTOWN – Rex Leach has set benchmarks for Ohio high school basketball.

The 1955 Vienna High School graduate has the most points scored in a season (1,266), fifth most in career points (2,561), 11th with most points in a game (72), 12th in field goals in a game (30), and second in field goals in a season (493) and most free-throws made in a season (280).

Sunday, at the second annual Lariccia’s See Them Rise High School Basketball Showcase, Leach was honored with the Mahoning Valley High School Basketball Excellence Award.

“It came as a complete surprise they were doing this for me,” Leach, 76, said. “I appreciate it. Mark Metzka is one of the organizers of this. I appreciate Mark doing this for me. It’s nice. I enjoy it.”

It would seem Leach would’ve enjoyed scoring 72 points in a 158-46 Jan. 22, 1955 victory at Southington.

“I had no idea how many points I had,” Leach said. “I go to some games and see kids go look at the scorebook. I never did that. It was one of those things. We played.

“At the end of the game, we were hoping that we were ahead.”

Coach Randy Wilson, 87, who coached the team from 1953-61, said he didn’t fathom of taking out Leach out of that game.

“You don’t want to take out your best player,” Wilson said. “You want to keep him in there. They don’t take out LeBron James because he scores a lot, Kobe Bryant or any of the college players. They keep them in there. They don’t penalize them for being good.”

Wilson added his team had a great defense.

“We pressed,” he said. “It was a shorter gym at that time. We pressed them immensely. They couldn’t get up to half court most of the time until we got a big lead on them and I stopped to substitute.”

Defense is much different today than it was in the 1950s.

“We had to stay a couple of feet away,” said Leach, who retired from teaching in 1998 after 38 years (two were in the military). “We weren’t allowed to hand check or anything like that. Today, it’s very physical with a lot of hand checking. The kids jump better.”

Leach, who has a had a massotherapy business in Vienna for 30 years, said he wishes he could play again.

“I would like to be able to go back and play on that floor today, but that’s not going to happen,” Leach said.