BY YANEEK SMITH
Even for a Hall of Fame class, this was a pretty elite group of inductees.
Danbury High School inducted Ron Ray, Charles Ihnat and the 1964-65 boys basketball team and the 1982 boys track and field team into the school’s Hall of Fame, holding the ceremony on Saturday in between the JV and varsity basketball games against Plymouth.
Ray, who coached the boys basketball team from ’63-’68, compiled the highest winning percentage in the program. He had an overall record of 68-27 (.716) and won four league titles. Three of his teams finished in the Associated Press’ Top 20 state rankings.
In 1964, the team went 15-2 and finished the season ranked 11th in Ohio. In 1965, the team went 17-2 and finished the season ranked third in Ohio. In 1968, the team won a sectional title and ended up being ranked 11th in Ohio.
Ray was also the head track coach from 1964-68, which won the Ottawa County title in 1964. He was also an assistant football coach from 1963-66, and was part of the 1963 team that won the Lakeshore Conference title.
“The ’64-’65 team got together at Coach Ray’s house before the ceremony,” said Danbury athletic director Keith Mora. “A lot of those people, they might have moved away, (so) it was really cool to hear about that. I think the 1982 team got together and went out after the game. It was really cool that both teams took the opportunity to do that.”
As for Ihnat, he is one of the most decorated athletes in the history of the school. In 1963, he was honorable mention in the state for football, first team in the district, and first team in the conference as a quarterback and as a linebacker. In basketball, Ihnat was honorable mention in the conference for his freshman and sophomore seasons and during his junior and senior seasons was first team in the conference and second team in the district. He was part of the 1964 and 1965 teams and set what was a school record at the time with 995 points in his career. Ihnat was also a three-time lettermen in track and field and earned a letter in baseball, too.
He spent time as a math teacher at Oak Harbor High School and Danbury High School and was the JV coach for the Rockets for a number of years.
The ’64-’65 basketball team, which was led by Ray, was comprised of Ihnat, Jerome Ringholz, Bill Hall, Bill Braddock, Bob Gernheuser, Jim Waldecker, Jack Butler, Fred Sauvey, Keith Krynock, Russ Wahlers, Joe Hudak, Mike Incovaia and Michael Walby, the manager.
The team won the Lakeshore Conference, finished 17-2 and No. 3 in Ohio in the final AP Poll, had the most wins in a season (17) and scored the most points in a season (1,427) at the time.
The 1982 track team went undefeated in duals, finishing 9-0, won The Toledo Blade Relays, finished second at the Ottawa County Meet, was second at the Ottawa Hills Relays and took second at the Lakeshore Conference tournament. The Lakers also won the district and regional tournaments.
Mora talked about the ceremony and what it was like to have everyone there.
“We had just about everybody that was on our two teams in attendance. I think we were at probably 85-90% attendance, and that I think just about everyone from the 64-65 team was in attendance or had somebody representing them,” he said. “That was awesome, it was cool. The two individuals that went into the Hall of Fame were part of that 1965 team.
“First, it was cool that we had a good student turnout, which I think is important. Those are really the people that you want to impress upon. They talk about the ’64-’65 team, and it’s a basketball team at a basketball game, and everyone has an investment in the team.
They were ranked No. 1 in their state for the majority of the season. It was much harder to make it deep into the playoffs, and I think there were only two divisions during that time. I think they were 17-1, so they just had a tremendous season. So it’s cool for our students to be able to see that team, even our older community, they may not know about them — and you see the number up on the banner, the trophy in the case, but you don’t put a face on it, so it’s great to witness that.”
Mora also spoke about the 1982 track team.
“Most of the time, you hear about an individual making it out of regionals to state, and this was a team,” he said. “That tells you how this track team was in ’82, having won the district, and for our student body to see that was awesome.”