COLUMBUS — Gene Ford was "Holding Court" once again.
After spending a couple of years in relative seclusion, Ford (a native of Tuscarawas County) got another chance to entertain the masses in a pre-event reception and during his brief acceptance speech upon his much-deserved induction at Saturday night’s 13th annual Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in the Hyatt Regency Ballroom.
Ford was part of another star-studded class joining the "hall", with a nice contingent of friends, former teammates and members of the Muskingum University "family" on hand to offer support.
As expected, Ford took his time at the microphone to inject humor into the event, first taking a shot at his coach at Muskingum — fellow Hall of Famer and selection committee member Dr. James Burson.
"I have poor eyesight...I have Type 2 diabetes...I have high blood pressure, a bad back and weak knees," he said, "and I owe all of that to Dr. James Burson — the head coach of the Fighting Muskies. He rode me like a triple crown jockey!
"How many coaches do you know can make a five-foot eight bowling ball into an All-American?" Ford added.
He also took a light-hearted swipe at the "hall" itself and co-founder ‘Doc’ Daugherty.
"When ‘Doc" called and said ‘Gene, I want to congratulate you on making it into the Ohio Baskeball Hall of Fame’, I told him two things," said Ford. "First, the neighborhood is going to hell and second, if you don’t get better players (than me), you’re going to lose this organization."
Ford graduated from Indian Valley North in 1970, earning All-Ohio Class A first team honors after scoring 27.6 points per game as a senior and 1,313 for his career.
At Muskingum, Ford tallied 1,717 career points (second all-time) and was named OAC Athlete of the Year and to the UPI "Small America" team.
After starting his coaching career at Shenandoah for a year and Tuscarawas Valley for five, Ford spent 25 years at Cambridge amassing a 400-183 record and taking the Bobcats to five OHSAA State Tournament appearances while boosting his career total to 440 wins. He then served as head coach Muskingum University for seven seasons.
Hall of Fame selections are nothing new to Ford, who previously was inducted into the OHSBCA, OVAC, District 12 and Muskingum University shrines.
Among other highlights of the evening:
—Dr. Burson offered an in memoriam tribute to previously-inducted hall of famers who passed away during the last year including Guernsey County legend "Newt" Oliver, offering a final blow of the coach’s whistle for each one.
—Among those honored was former Ohio University coach Larry Hunter, who passed away on Friday and ironically, perhaps his finest player ever — Gary Trent — was among this year’s HOF inductees.
"There are people who impact your life...and people who save your life," Trent stated, "and Larry Hunter saved my life."
—Kari Daugherty Pickens, product of River View High, spoke on behalf of the 2013 Ashland University women’s basketball team which was inducted for winning the NCAA Division II National Championship.
—Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtman reflected on his first season in a fireside chat-style interview with Hall of Famer Bill Hosket.
—Other members of the Class of 2018 were Sue Ramsey (Miami University/women’s coaching); Mary Jo Huisman (Mother of Mercy HS, women’s basketball pioneer); Deb Elwer Lindeman (Delphos St. John HS/Northern Kentucky U., women’s basketball pre-1980; Jackie Motycka Mossing (Crestview HS/Bowling Green State U., women’s basketball 1981-90); Jessica Davenport (Columbus Independence HS/Ohio State U., women’s basketball 2001-2010); John Joseph (contributor, creator of the Shoot-A-Way): Terry Wymer (North Baltimore HS/University of Findlay, basketball officiating); Walt Wesley (University of Kansas/Cleveland Cavaliers, professional basketball); Jim Holstein (Hamilton Catholic HS/University of Cincinnati, men’s basketball 1940-59); John Powell (Franklin HS/Miami and Xavier U., men’s basketball 1940-59); Jimmy Darrow (Akron South HS/Bowling Green State U., men’s basketball 1960-79); Gary Trent (Hamilton Township HS/Ohio U., men’s basketball 1980-99); Jason Collier (Springfield Catholic HS/Georgia Tech, men’s basketball 2000-present); Bill Brown (Wittenberg U., men’s coaching); Charles "Red" Ash (Canton South HS, boys coaching); University of Dayton men’s teams that made the NCAA three straight years (1964-65, ‘65-66 and ‘66-67); and St. Henry High School boys state champion 1990 and 1991 teams.