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Closing in on Leach’s mark

McDonald senior nearing area’s all-time scoring record

Correspondent file / Michael Taylor Former Vienna High School Flyers (currently Mathews High School) basketball great Rex Leach, center, was honored Jan. 20, 2013, prior to the LaBrae game at the former LaRiccia’s See Them Rise High School Basketball Showcase at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown. Also pictured is John Cullen, left, current South Range High School boys basketball coach, and Mark Metzka, right, a committee member of the former showcase. Leach is the Mahoning Valley’s all-time leading basketball scorer. Rasile is less than 70 points away from breaking that mark.

Rex Leach stood 6-foot-5 and had a knack for making a leather ball go through an iron hoop quite often.

It explained his 1,266 points his senior year, a 43.7 points-per-game average, as his Vienna High School Flyers made the state Final Four before losing to Cincinnati Lockland Wayne. The Flyers, aptly nicknamed, averaged 97.42 points per game. Leach holds the record for points in a season in that famed 1954-55 campaign.

“We played for a coach who let us play most of the game,” Leach said. “I’m sure we overscored on some of the teams we played. We never thought about humiliating them or anything. We wanted to beat them and that’s what we did. We gave 100 percent the whole time we played. That’s all we could do.”

His field goals (493) and free throws (280) are high up in the Ohio High School Athletic Association records, but it’s his 2,581 career points that has stood as an area benchmark since 1955.

McDonald 6-0 senior guard Zach Rasile, who averages 40.7 points per game this season, has been a prolific scorer himself. He’s at 2,514 points for the 11-1 Blue Devils, one of the best Division IV teams in the state. Rasile is 68 points away from breaking Leach’s record and continuing his climb up the OHSAA all-time leading scorers.

Rasile sits 10th on the list as he recently passed up former The Ohio State University legend and NBA standout Jerry Lucas. Leach is sixth.

The Blue Devils are at Western Reserve on Tuesday and host Lowellville on Friday.

The McDonald senior stood on the Mathews High School floor last season, on the court which bears Leach’s name. Rasile looked around at the remembrances of Leach’s career around the gym which housed the Flyers back in 1955.

“I looked at some of his stats, and he looked like a really good player,” Rasile said of approaching Leach’s record. “It’s a good accomplishment for me and my team, also.”

Leach, who coached high school basketball after his playing days at Bowling Green State University, is impressed with Rasile’s exploits.

“I think Zach is a great all-around ball player,” Leach, 82, said. “I’ve seen him play. If someone is going to break my record, I’m glad it’s him because he’s a good ball player.

“It makes me feel old. I have a birthday coming up Tuesday. I guess I am old.”

Leach remembered how his teammates made the Vienna Flyers such a formidable foe for most in that 1954-55 season.

Don McShane, Don Scott, Frank Catchpole, Ray Rappach, Michael Mizicko, Charles Scott, Edward Scott, Albert Morrison, Paul Pennell, Dallas Stringer and William Reebel played on that team with Leach. Randall Wilson coached the team.

“We had great ball players with us,” Leach said. “We had a coach that wanted us to run and gun and that’s what we did.”

As for Rasile, what would Leach say to the McDonald senior?

“First of all, I’d congratulate him when he breaks the record,” Leach said. “Tell him with that record and $2.50 you can go up to Yankee Kitchen and get a cup of coffee.”

Leach’s record signifies the winning the Flyers did in the ’50s, one of the most dominant teams in area history.

“That’s what we worked for all week and that’s what we achieved every game we played,” Leach said. “We came close. We played a team a little bit better than us — Lockland Wayne.

“We had a great run. It was great for us, great for the school, great for Vienna. I have some very great memories of that when I played ball at Vienna High School.”

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