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Bucks celebrate National DD Month with a thrilling win over All-Stars

Bucks team members Dane Patterson, left, Shawn Garnes and Blake Day pose for photos following the Bucks' exciting win during a community celebration of National Developmental Disabilities Month.

Dave Mast

Let’s face it. At this point in time, a Holmes County All-Stars win over the Holmes County Bucks in their annual basketball contest looks like a real longshot.
The perennial loser chants at the end of each season, “There’s always next year.” However, this year the Bucks once again took down the All-Stars in a spirited game at West Holmes High School on Tuesday, Feb. 20, and it wasn’t until the final score of the night that the Bucks were able to emerge a 77-75 victor as the two teams joined a huge throng of fans to celebrate National Developmental Disabilities Month.
The Bucks won again, keeping the All-Stars winless in this friendly competition that has taken place for more than two decades, but the final score paled in comparison to the support and euphoric feeling emanating throughout The Dungeon at West Holmes.
The game continues to grow and build steam as it garners more and more support from the community. The fans used to fill much of the scoreboard side of the gym, but on this night the crowd flowed over into the opposite stands, and it was more than just a few people.
“I don’t think I have ever seen more people here than this,” longtime All-Star Sam Steimel said.
The support is not just for the Bucks, but also for the Holmes County Board of DD, which continues to serve a crucial role in Holmes County.
“This year means so much to these guys and to everyone at Holmes County Board of DD because we see how much support and love we get from the community,” said Curtis Goehring, DD business manager and HR director, who served as one of the night’s guest referees along with Millersburg Police Chief Thomas Vaughn. “Every year these guys look forward to this, and they take this excitement back with them, and it builds every year. It’s a spectacular night, and the community support has continued to grow and grow. We are all so incredibly appreciative of everything this community does for us.”
Rachel Day, who serves as the assistant head coach for the Bucks, has been part of this event for many years. Her son Blake Day knocked down a critical 3-pointer early in the game that helped the Bucks overcome an early 7-0 All-Stars lead.
Day said this night of celebration is not just for the players or the Board of DD, but also for the entire community because the center serves such an important function through its many different and unique educational and employment opportunities and the various programs offered at the Board of DD.
“People would not believe how much this night means to these Bucks players,” Day said. “From the first day of practice, all they talk about is this night, and that carries on throughout the season. They love to come out and talk smack to these All-Stars, and that goes on throughout the entire year when they see them out and about. Guys like Jon Miller or Blake or Sean Garnes or Dane Patterson will see these guys on the street and say, ‘We’re taking you down this year.’ It’s all a lot of fun.
But most importantly this is a night that we can celebrate as a community in support of DD Awareness Month. To see this many people come out and show their support for the Bucks and for the Board of DD is so amazing. We can never begin to express our appreciation enough for what this community has done for the Board of DD and for how much they support us and these guys.”
As for the game, it was a roller-coaster ride throughout.
Over the years this game has seen the Bucks win in blowout fashion, in tight games and even in an overtime thriller. This year, rather than donning their familiar purple shirts, the Bucks came out in bright aqua jerseys, courtesy of Real Estate Showcase.
This one went down to the wire until a late Levi Hershberger layup with under 20 seconds to play turned out to be the game-winner.
The All-Stars bolted to a 7-0 lead, but 3-pointers from Dane Patterson and Blake Day drew the Bucks to within one. Eventually a score in the paint from Joe Duran pushed the Bucks to their first lead at 10-9.
Eventually the Bucks began to pull away with scores from Aaron Hershberger and Jim Miller giving the Bucks a 21-13 advantage. Early in the second period All-Stars Ben Ogi and Damon Yoder drew their team to within 23-17, but a Miller triple and Dennis Hershberger’s score inside made the Bucks ready to bolt. A pair of scores from Charlie Wilkins, who opened the night's festivities with an incredible rendition of the national anthem, and two more scores from Hunter Barnett opened up a 42-24 Bucks lead.
Scores from Levi Hershberger and Aaron Hershberger helped advance the Bucks’ lead to over 20 at 47-25 at the half.
All-Stars’ beleaguered head coach Mark Lonsinger, who is one of few head coaches in Ohio who can claim a longer losing streak than the Cleveland Browns’ head coach Hue Jackson, said he could sense a comeback in the third period.
It took some time, but the All-Stars clawed back.
Led by Ogi, Ty Meyer and Jason Hummel, the All-Stars fought back to within 14 points, but each time they got close the Bucks had answers, whether it was a Day jumper or Miller in the paint. By the time Garnes scored back-to-back buckets and Levi Hershberger made a steal and went the distance, the Bucks were back up by 17 at 61-44. However, a huge late rush near the end of the third quarter led by Keith Troyer allowed the All-Stars to creep to within 10 points at 61-51 heading into the final period.
Ogi and Benji Miller helped the All-Stars trim the lead in half, but Miller hit three free throws and Barnett scored again to keep them at bay, momentarily. Hummel canned a three and Patrick Shriver made a break-away layup. Suddenly it was only 69-66 Bucks.
Patterson scored for the Bucks, but Straits and Troyer connected for scores to draw the All-Stars to within one point. The Bucks got back-to-back scores from Dennis Hershberger and Morrison, but a huge three from All-Star Chad Troyer and another score inside from Keith Troyer knotted the game up at 75 with 50 seconds to play.
The Bucks moved the ball around until Levi Hershberger found what he wanted, an open lane. The wily guard drove the left side and made a nice bucket with 19 seconds to play to put his team up by two, and the All-Stars could not answer, so the Bucks held on for the win.
Needless to say, the pro-Bucks crowd was chanting for a score at the end of the game and went wild when time expired.
After the game the Bucks and All-Stars posed for a giant photograph, and as they intermingled following the game, it was more than evident that this night of celebration is good for the Bucks, the All-Stars and the entire county.
“Nobody leaves here without a smile on their face,” Goehring said. “It’s just a special night for a special community."

Published: March 26, 2018
New Article ID: 2018180329968