OAK HILL WINS WRESTLING SECTIONAL; HOWARD COUNTY WILL SEND 29 GRAPPLERS TO PERU REGIONAL

Western’s Dylan Goudy remained undefeated after winning the Oak Hill Wrestling Sectional 138-pound weight class to improve to 36-0. (SJ photo/William Gibson)

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

MARION, Ind. – For the fifth time in six years, the Oak Hill Golden Eagles flew high to claim its own IHSAA Wrestling Sectional, clipping the one-year reign of the defending champion Western Panthers. Oak Hill took its 27th overall sectional title with 234 points while Western finished as runners-up with 219. Eastern took third with 193.5, followed by Kokomo (157.5), Marion (140), Northwestern (89), Madison-Grant (88), Mississinewa (59.5), Eastbrook (30), Tri-Central (6) and Taylor (0).

In all, Howard County will advance 29 wrestlers to the Peru Regional this Saturday. The top four in each weight class advance, and nine of the 14 weight classes were won by Howard County participants – Western and Eastern each had four individual champions while Kokomo had one.

For Western, senior Dylan Goudy improved to a perfect 36-0 by sweeping the 138-pound weight class for the second consecutive year. He also recorded his 100th career victory. Hunter Cottingham became a three-time sectional champion after winning the 132-pound weight class and improving to 34-2. Brayden Erb earned his second sectional title at 220-pounds (29-8). Hayden Shepherd improved his record to 28-6 with a victory at 126-pounds.

For Eastern, Tytus Morrisett earned his 100th career victory while winning the 145-pound weight class – he is now 20-4 for the season. Also taking home individual championships for the Comets were Brodie Porter at 152-pounds (33-1), Isaac Maurer at 160-pounds (22-9) and Bryce Buckley at 170-pounds (31-4).

Kokomo was led by the championship performance of Harvey Barr at 106-pounds – Barr is 35-7 this season.

The Peru Reginal kicks off at 9:30 a.m. and features competitors from the Oak Hill and Peru Sectionals The top four individuals will qualify for the New Haven Semi-State on Feb. 9.

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MORE TO THE STORY: JIMMY RAYL DISCUSSED HOW HE ALMOST DID NOT SCORE HIS IU RECORD 56 POINTS

Jimmy Rayl courtesy of Indiana University

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. – In a story published in the Sports Journal in 2016, Jimmy Rayl explained that the second of his famed 56-point scoring games at IU almost did not happen. He told the story while sitting in his living room with the actual basketball on a shelf above his head.

 … about that 56-point basketball in his living room – he actually had two 56-point games while playing for the Hoosiers, and both are still the single-game scoring record at IU. The amazing part is he did it without the benefit of the 3-point line which came along long after his playing days.

 But the 56-point outing nearly didn’t happen.

 “There is no question it almost didn’t happen,” Rayl said matter-of-factly, explaining that he and Indiana head coach Branch McCracken, a two-time national champion at IU, did not quite see eye-to-eye during a workout and he decided he was done with practice.

 “He told me that if I left the court I would never play for IU again,” recalled Rayl, who indeed left practice. “I had a buddy who was a sports writer, and he got wind of it and was going crazy and called Branch to get me back on the team. He told me that McCracken agreed that if I went to practice and apologized to the team, I could play that Saturday. I did and they let me come back.”

 That Saturday – Feb. 23, 1963 – Rayl had 32 points by halftime in his second 56-point game of his Hoosier career. The first came against Minnesota in January 1962.

 “(McCracken) took me out with a minute and 20 second to go,” said Rayl. “I walked off the floor and 10,000 fans were booing. But they weren’t booing me, they were booing Branch for taking me out with 56 points – they wanted to see me break the record.”

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LEGEND LOST: KOKOMO BASKETBALL ICON AND 1959 INDIANA MR. BASKETBALL JIMMY RAYL PASSES AWAY AT THE AGE OF 77

Jimmy Rayl accepts the IHSAA Trester Mental Attitude Award in 1959. (Courtesy of the KHS Sargasso)

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. – From the day he first touched a basketball, James Rayl only knew how to do one thing – score points. From local parks to Memorial Gym, from the Indiana Hoosiers to the Indiana Pacers, Rayl scored buckets by the dozens and became known as one of the best shooters to ever play the game. He was a legend, both in Kokomo and around Indiana.

On Sunday, at the age of 77, James “Jimmy” Rayl quietly passed away at his Kokomo home. In recent years, Rayl had struggled with several health issues – a stroke and open heart surgery in 2011 slowed the 6-foot-2 sharpshooter. Then during the latter part of 2018, his kidney’s started to fail and he was placed in a rehabilitation hospital. He returned home earlier this month.

Known as the Splendid Splinter, he helped lead the Kokomo Wildkats to the IHSAA Final Four during his senior season of 1958-1959. Averaging 29.6 points per game, the Wildkats finished 23-6. They won sectional, regional and semi-state titles before defeating New Albany 58-56 in the state semifinals. Rayl’s season ended in the state finals, where Crispus Attucks knocked off the Kats 92-54 – but not before Rayl set a state Final Four record with 114 points.

He finished his high school career with a then Kokomo record 1,632 career points and was the first member of the 1,000 Point Club. He scored a staggering 858 points his senior year while setting the North Central Conference mark with 269 points.

Following the state finals, he earned the IHSAA Trester Mental Attitude Award, was named Indiana Mr. Basketball and earned the title of Star of Stars at the Indiana-Kentucky All-Star Series.

“Jimmy Rayl was one of the main forces behind our hashtag #LegacyMatters,” said Kokomo Principal Angela Blessing on Twitter. “KHS sends its prayers to his family.”

“Rest in peace to the greatest Kat of them all,” said Kokomo head boys basketball coach Bob Wonnell. “Our thoughts and prayers to the Rayl family during this difficult time.”

His talents landed him in Bloomington, where he again scorched most nets he shot at. After sitting out his freshman year (frosh were ineligible in those days), he got his feet wet as a sophomore and returned to form as a junior, where he averaged 29.8 points per game to earn All-Big Ten and third team All-American honors. As a senior, he averaged 25.3 points per game and earned the same Big Ten and All-American honors.

“Jimmy Rayl was one of the greatest players in the history of IU basketball and an icon in the state of Indiana,” Indiana athletic director Fred Glass said in a statement.  “All of us with IU Athletics mourn his passing and offer deepest sympathies to his family and friends.”

Amazingly, he still owns the single-game scoring record for the Hoosiers – a feat he accomplished twice. He scored 56 points in a game against Minnesota in 1962 and then did it again in 1963 against Michigan State. He ranks 23rd on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,401 points and he shot 41.6 percent from the floor and 83.5 percent from the line in 68 games as a Hoosier.

“On behalf of everyone in our program, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Rayl family,” said IU head coach Archie Miller in a statement. “His accomplishments as a basketball player from this state were profound and set an example for others to aspire to.”

“Jimmy was a legend all his own,” said IU Athletics Hall of Famer and former Bloomington Herald Times Sports Editor Bob Hammel in a statement released by IU. “He had a signature jump shot, very high-arced landing in the net with a soft puff. I didn’t see either of his 56-point games at IU but I did see him win a 92-90 high school semi-state game against Fort Wayne South and his future IU teammate Tom Bolyard with a 35-foot buzzer shot, classic Jimmy, high and puff.”

Rayl was drafted by the Cincinnati Royals in the third-round of the 1963 draft but signed with the Indiana Pacers. He played in 101 games for the Pacers from 1967-1969, where he averaged 11.1 points. He averaged 12.0 points his first season and 8.9 the following year. In what many still consider a travesty, Rayl was cut by the Pacers after 27 games; he never played professionally again.

“Pacers Sports & Entertainment is deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Jimmy Rayl, who played on the Pacers’ original team in 1967,” the team said in a statement. “Jimmy, the ‘Splendid Splinter’, was a true Indiana basketball legend. Pacers Sports & Entertainment offers heartfelt condolences to the Rayl family.”

During his career he also played on the 1966 World Cup championship squad and was a member of Goodyear’s AAU national championship squad.

Rayl eventually returned to Kokomo where he worked for Xerox. He married Nancy and they had four children.

His prolific career landed Rayl in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1989, the IU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1991 and as a charter member of the Howard County Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.

NOTE: Funeral arrangements were still pending at press time; the Sports Journal will post details on its website (www.indianasportsjournal.com) and Twitter page (@Sports_Journal).

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