A coach who racked up nearly 500 victories and a quartet of talented players who combined for nearly 5,500 points while in high school make up the Class of 2014 for the District 12 Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Gene Ammirante, who spent three decades as head boys’ coach at Bellaire High School, will be joined by Rachel Graban Caviness of Meadowbrook, Lisa Ribble Stolar of Fort Frye, David Allen of Buckeye Trail and Jose Davis of Bellaire for the D-12 “Hall”.
Those five will be honored at the annual Pepsi/District 12 All-Star classic slated Friday, April 4 at Buckeye Trail High School. The girls’ game will begin at 6 p.m. and the boys’ tip-off is slated at 8, and the Hall of Famers will be recognized at various times throughout the evening.
Previous inductees include” Richard L. “Dick” Potts, Hank Morus and Ed Johnston (Class of 2008); Terry Leggett, Jay Burson, Geno Ford, Connie Doutt and Stephanie Petho (Class of 2009); Gene Ford, Matt Powell, Mike Smith, Cathy Clark and Amber Ellison (Class of 2010); Tom Boehm, Joe Bills, Mitch Hannahs, Melissa Hammond and Connie Sanford (Class of 2011); Dave Bell, Shelly Carroll, Marilyn Primovic,, Seth Martin and Todd McLoughlin (Class of 2012); Mark Huffman, Lynn Miley, Ann Osborne, Clint Hayes and Ben Porter (Class of 2013).
The District 12 Hall of Fame Selection Committee includes Jeff Harrison, Todd Rock, Ben Kennedy, Keith Arnold, Dave Linn and Mark Romick.
Here’s a look at this year’s inductees:
Gene Ammirante (Wheeling Central Catholic High School, Class of 1969).
When you think of Ammirante, you think of two things – passion and success. During his 30-year career as head boys’ basketball coach at Bellaire High, “Coach A” displayed plenty of the former and achieved plenty of the latter.
Ammirante began his coaching career in 1976 as an assistant to Mark Matz at Bellaire before beginning a successful run as head coach of the Big Reds.
He compiled an impressive 471-205 career record at Bellaire, the all-time best coaching record in boys’ basketball at the school. That included a 189-41 mark during the 1990s, an average of 19 wins per season during that 10-year span.
Bellaire High achieved Top 20 rankings in Ohio 15 times under Ammirante; won 14 Ohio Valley Athletic Conference championships; 14 sectional crowns; six district titles and one regional championship as Bellaire earned its first ever-trip to the OHSAA Division III State Tournament “Final Four” in 2003-04, tying the school record for wins (22) before losing to Versailles in double-overtime in the semifinals..
His teams posted two undefeated regular seasons, going 20-0 in 1993-94 and 2005-06; and two 19-1 records; and the 2005-06 team broke the school record with 23 victories.
Among Ammirante’s numerous awards were “Coach of the Year” for Ohio Division II, the Eastern District and District 12 as well as the OVAC overall “Coach of the Year” in 2003-04; and the Bob Arnzen Award for 20 consecutive years at the same school (1996).
He was also selected to coach the South squad in the annual Ohio North-South All-Star Game in Columbus in 1997.
He served as Game Director for the Samuel A. Mumley OVAC All-Star Basketball Classic on two different occasions and is still active on the committee; founded and directed the OVAC Basketball Clinic for six years; is director of the Wheeling Recreation Department’s Youth Basketball Program; and started the annual Saturday Morning Fundamental Feeder Program and Basketball Camp at Bellaire.
He was inducted into the OVAC Hall of Fame in 2012 and entered the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2014.
Ammirante received his bachelor’s degree from West Liberty State College in 1973 and his master’s from West Virginia University in 1976.
Rachel Graban Caviness (Meadowbrook High School, Class of 1994). A four-year letterwinner, she is the Lady Colts’ all-time leader in points and rebounds, having amassed a whopping 1,383 points and 1,419 rebounds during her career. Her rebound total still ranks second all-time in the OHSAA record book.
As a freshman, she tallied 180 points (9.0 per game) and had 357 rebounds; as a sophomore, she collected 299 points (a 12.4 average) with 358 rebounds; and as a junior, she scored 384 points (a 20.2 average) with 343 rebounds.
She capped her career with a tremendous senior season that included 520 points (a 23.6 average) and 361 rebounds (16.4 per game) while also averaging 4.2 assists and 2.1 steals per game.
She had single games highs of 42 and 38 points and incredible rebounding performances of 32, 30 and 30 during her career.
For her efforts, she received first team all-Ohio accolades and was the Eastern District “Player of the Year”; earned first team honors and was the Division I/II “Player of the Year” in District 12. She was named special mention all-OVAC Class AAA as a sophomore; second team as a junior and first team as a senior.
Also a four-year letterwinner in volleyball, she was the class valedictorian at MHS.
Graban then continued her academic and athletic careers at Boston University where she was a four-year letterwinner who graduated in 1998. She was named to the All-Academic Honor Roll in the America East Conference.
Lisa Ribble Stolar (Fort Frye High School, Class of 1981).
One of the Lady Cadets’ all-time best on the hardwood, she finished her career with 1,404 points, 795 rebounds and 198 assists.
She gradually increased her point production, scoring 174 points (a 9.2 average) as a freshman; 253 as a sophomore (13.3 average); 452 as a junior (19.7 average) and then 525 as a senior for a whopping 25-point per game average.
A four-year letterwinner, her all-star recognition included first team AP All-Ohio Class A as a senior (she was honorable mention all-state as a junior); first team All-OVAC Class AA, first team all-District 12 and first team All-Pioneer Valley Conference.
During her career, Fort Frye amassed an overall record of 69-13, winning the Pioneer Valley Conference title three times and the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference crown once.
She also participated in volleyball and softball at Fort Frye.
Ribble went on to a stellar career at West Virginia University (1982-85), earning four varsity letters and serving as team captain as a senior. She scored 641 career points, dished out 483 assists, had 350 rebounds and 140 steals helping the Lady Mountaineers to a four-year record of 74-45.
Ribble also had the distinction of assisting on a historic play, tossing a length-of-the-court pass to 6-7 Georgeann Wells who delivered the first dunk by a woman in a college game on Dec. 21, 1984 against the University of Charleston.
The 5-9 guard was also a standout in the classroom, gaining first team Academic All-Atlantic 10 honors as a junior and senior and named to the Academic All-East team as a senior.
An assistant coach for the Lady Mountaineers from 1985-95, was also named to the WVU women’s basketball team of the 1973-86 era.
David Allen (Buckeye Trail High School, Class of 1981).
A three-year letterman, he racked up 1,245 career points and landed 632 rebounds for career averages of 19.2 and 9.7, respectively.
After playing junior varsity as a freshman, he tallied 240 points (a 12.6 average) as a sophomore; scored 470 points (a 22.7 average) as a junior; and 528 points (a 21.1 average) as a senior.
Allen’s post-season recognition included third team AP All-Ohio Class A as a junior and first team all-state as a senior; two-time first team all-Eastern District Class A, including “Player of the Year” honors as a senior; first team all-District 12 and first team all-OVAC Class A.
He played in the OHSBCA North-South All-Star Classic and the District 12 All-Star Classic and was also selected for the OVAC All-Star Classic.
During his career, Trail posted a record of 58-7 and won the OVAC Class A championship three times (1979, 1980 and 1981); reached the OHSAA Class A District final once and advanced to the Regional Tournament once.
Also a four-year letterman in baseball at BTHS, Allen attended Urbana University where he was a member of the basketball team for two years.
Jose Davis (Bellaire High School, Class of 1996).
Davis put together some eye-popping numbers in both football and basketball, earning him All-Ohio recognition in both sports during his stellar career.
On the hardwood, Davis started and lettered four years, racking up 1,457 points, 479 rebounds, 167 assists and 151 steals (all ranking in the top five on the BHS career list). His all-star accolades in basketball included first team All-Ohio Division III as a senior as well as being named a three-time All-Eastern District, All-OVAC Class 3-A, All-District 12 and All-Valley player. He was also named third team All-American as a senior.
Davis was also a standout football player for the Big Reds, earning All-Ohio Division IV Offensive Player of the Year honors and finishing as runner-up for the prestigious Mr. Football award. He also earned multiple all-district, all-conference and all-valley first team accolades and set a host of Bellaire High records.
He was a three-year letterman and starting quarterback at Kent State University where he again established several school records. He also doubled as a point-guard on the KSU basketball team during the 1997-98 season.
Professionally, Davis played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League in 2000 and 2001; for the Ohio Valley Greyhounds of the National Indoor Football League in 2002, leading the team to the league title by passing for 1,668 yards and 37 TDs and earning championship game MVP honors; for the Indiana Firebirds of the Arena Football League in 2003, the Colorado Crush in 2004 and 2005; and the Grand Rapids Rampage in 2006.
He was inducted into the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in 2007.
Davis returned to his alma mater and served as head coach of the Big Reds’ football team for five years (2009-2013) and just this week was hired to coach St. John Central starting in the fall.