Registered: Aug 2005
Posted March 31st, 2009 08:48 AM IP
I don't usally like to copy and paste entire articles but from some reason just the link wouldn't work.Very good article,best of luck Coach.
COLUMBUS — What a way for the old man to go out — if he does retire.
Kalida coach Richard Kortokrax is 83 years old and has coached for 49 years. He has more wins (784) than any other coach in Ohio high school history, although Kettering Alter’s Joe Petrocelli had closed to within five but now has fallen behind by 16.
Kortokrax was the center of attention for far more than just being the coach of a state tournament team. Many from that community, including a couple school board members who have sons on the team, want him to step down.
“It all started a couple years ago,” said Tim McDonough, the assistant sports editor of the Defiance Crescent-News. “He signed a two-year contract which ends this year. But, he has made it known, he has no plans on stepping down.”
A battle with bladder cancer slowed down Kortokrax a bit a couple years ago, but two operations he is supposedly cancer free. Before that he lost his fishing buddy, his son, to a form of leukemia.
On top of that, his wife is said to be fighting Alzheimer. Little wonder, he wants to keep his mind off his personal problems by coaching.
“Coach also had some tough years, record-wise” McDonough said. “A number of 12-win seasons does not cut it in this basketball-crazed Putnam County community.
“Some of the parents thought another coach could do better. Consequently, the senior players for the 2007-2008 season did not go out. The coach took it in stride and schooled a senior-less team to an 18-6 season, losing to statebound Wayne Trace in the district finals. The spin-off was Kortokrax was lying in wait for them this season.”
And he proved that on Thursday morning when his unranked team took out a much larger and probably more talented Lutheran East team, 57-46. Unfortunately, Kortokrax could not win the school’s second state title on Saturday morning as his squad lost 48-43 in double overtime to Oak Hill.
“When I saw the film of Lutheran East this week, I did not want to show it to my kids. There were that many dunks,” Kortokrax said in his post-game interview Thursday. “We could put one our players on the shoulders of another and not dunk the ball.
“I ended up showing it to them just because I wanted to set up a defense for that size,” Kortokrax said. “I gave them Saturday off, but the work for Lutheran East started Sunday and went thru Wednesday, four three-hour sessions. And you saw the results. I used to hear about the great Kalida offense. Now, I see the great Kalida defense that goes with an adequate Kalida offense.”
And Kortokrax had Oak Hill scouted equally well.
“My boys could not have played much better on that end,” he said. “We hold their top two scorers to eight and six points, respectively. We were beaten by two unbelievable three-point shots, the first to get it into overtime and the second in the second overtime.”
Then Kortokrax addressed his future.
“I could have coached my last game,” he sadly said. “I would have loved to have this one up for the community, but it wasn’t to be. I have done my best, taking a team that was never mentioned in any poll to the state finals.
“No matter how many times you come home a winner in this profession, you make enemies,’’ he added. “You don’t try to make them, but it happens. Maybe I have more of them than friends. Like I said, if the community no longer wants me, I will step aside.”
And there is a reason he would like to stay on at Kalida. There is a freshmen team coming through, many of them sons of fathers that played on the school’s 1981 state championship team.
And he did leave the door open to coach again, somewhere.
“I have heard that Paulding needs a coach,” he said.
On the winning end was Oak Hill’s Norm Persin, a mentor who also knows about winning. Although Persin never took a team to the state before, he entered the tournament with 574 wins. That made for 1,358 wins between the two coaches in the small school finals.
“To beat Kortokrax’s team, we needed a break,” Persin said. “We got three. The first was that unbelievable fall-away three-pointer by Ryan Borden that got it into the first overtime. The second trey that kept us in the second overtime and then the over-and-back call that gave us the ball with the lead with seconds to go in the game.”