Rio Grande to host Newt Oliver Coaches’ Classic this weekend

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

RIO GRANDE, Ohio — A full day of basketball action is on tap for Saturday, with five games scheduled to comprise the 12th Annual Newt Oliver Coaches Classic at the University of Rio Grande’s Newt Oliver Arena.

The event is named in honor of former Rio Grande head coach Newt Oliver, who guided the Bevo Francis-led Redmen to a 60-7 record from 1952-54, including a perfect 39-0 mark during the 1952-53 campaign.

Oliver passed away in October at the age of 93.

“One of things we wanted to do with this event was to honor some outstanding coaches and teams in our area but, moreso, to promote the game of basketball — because that’s what Newt did,” said Rio Grande head coach Ken French. “He was a master, one of the best in the history of college basketball, when it came to promoting the game. The Classic is a great way for us to promote the game and, at the same time, pay respect to coach Oliver and his legacy.”

The day gets started at noon when the Rio Grande women’s team — led by Rio Grande alum David Smalley — battles Wilberforce University, with a boys’ high school contest between South Webster High School and South Point High School slated to follow at 2 p.m.

At 4 p.m., the Rio Grande men’s team squares off with Marian (IN) University before two more boys’ prep games — Oak Hill vs. Point Pleasant and Meigs vs. Ironton — close out the day at 6 p.m. and 7:45 p.m., respectively.

Oak Hill is coached by Rio alum Norm Persin and Ironton is guided by Rio alum Mark LaFon.

The Rio Grande women sport a 10-1 record and an eight-game winning streak following a 72-53 win at home over River States Conference foe Carlow University on Saturday afternoon.

Part of the RedStorm’s current winning streak is an 84-72 win over Wilberforce in the women’s division championship of the Bevo Francis Tournament on Nov. 18.

For the Bulldogs (6-5), Saturday’s game will be the last of a nine-game road swing which began on Nov. 14. WU was scheduled to play at Roosevelt (IL) Univeristy on Monday night and at Bethel (TN) College on Thursday before its rematch with Rio.

On the men’s side, Rio Grande (3-8) will be looking for its second straight win and a third victory in its last four outings. The RedStorm cruised to a 98-66 win over River States Conference rival Carlow University last Saturday.

Marian, a member of the NAIA Division II Crossroads League, takes an 8-3 record into its game at 4th-ranked Indiana Wesleyan University Tuesday night.

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.