By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
The final horn sounded on basketball season nearly a month ago, but one final event remains before the book can be closed. The 11th installment of the Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation’s Awards Banquet on Sunday will be the finishing touch to 2012-13 campaign.
The doors at the Conneaut Human Resource Center will open at 2:30 p.m. for a social gathering with dinner and the awards to start at 3. Tickets will be available at the door and will be $25 for adults and $10 for students and previously inducted hall of famers.
“We’re a week away and it should be another sellout,” ACBF trustee Mike Joslin said. “Eleven sellouts — we’ve been fortunate in that. I think it’s the fact that we honor the kids and the adults. That makes it an easy celebration. The hall of famers draw a big crowd, and it’s nice to see people who come back from all over the country.
“It’s a big deal for those people who dedicate their whole lives to the sport of basketball.”
The latest class to be inducted into the hall of fame will include Hiram Safford, Al “Red” Schubert, Carl Stokes, Carl McIlwain, Jim Gilbert, Steve Hanek, Richard Hill, Kelly Hitchcock, Tiffany Leonard, Angela Miller, Mickey Zigmund, Tom Naylor, Jimmy Henson, John Higgins and Marianne Meola.
“There is no shortage (of potential hall of famers),” Joslin said. “It’s funny. I’m always nervous we’ll run out of people, but there’s an abundant number of people. There’s so much there, we’ll be doing this for a long, long time.
“There seems to be an overabundance of excellent basketball players, coaches and referees. There’s a lot of rich basketball history in this area.”
“We’ve got so many names of people who should be inducted and that definitely has us looking forward,” ACBF trustee Nick Iarocci said. “We’ve got names coming out of the woodwork that we feel maybe should already be in. There are so many names that we can keep this organization and event going for a long time to come.”
In regards to those hall of famers, Joslin wanted to say a special thank you.
“I’d like to pay tribute to (retired Star Beacon sports writer and ACBF board member) Chris Larick and express the ACBF’s appreciation for all the work he’s done (in writing the series of features on the HOF inductees for the Star Beacon).”
Among the awards that will be handed out will be the boys and girls Players of the Year, Coaches of the Year, the Official Appreciation Award and the Alumni Achievement Award.
“It’s great to recognize the Hall of Famers,” Iarocci said. “They sell tickets. But I still go back to the original intent of the organization. We wanted to recognize the kids who play this great game and give them an opportunity thank everyone who have played special parts in their lives. The kids speaking is the most moving part of the event for me.”
“It’s a chance for the kids to reflect back on the season and for the hall of famers to look back on a lifetime of achievements,” Joslin said. “It’s a chance to celebrate many things.
“Again this year, there were some difficult choices we had to make. That says a lot for talent in the area.”
A pair of scholarships will also be presented. The Coaches’/Referee Scholarship will go to a student who has a parent who is a coach or an official. New this year is the Edward Jones/Dave Flautt Scholarship, the first scholarship given away by the ACBF that comes from a private donor.
“I think we’re changing the focus a little bit now that we have stability, we’ll look forward and try to sweeten the pot a little bit and get more scholarship money for the kids,” Joslin said.
“Dave was kind enough to give away the first (scholarship). We hope to build on that and next year get three or four to benefit the kids more.”
“We’ve had the Coaches/Referee scholarship in place for a long time,” Iarocci said. “Dave recognized the wonderful things we were doing. He’s the pace setter, I think, for other organizations and individuals to contribute.”
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.