The 1952-53 Stivers basketball team was rated among the best in Stivers history. Coached by Raymond “Skip” LaRue, the team had a record of 16-1 in regular season play and completed the season at 18 wins and 2 losses.
Their only defeat during the regular season was to Muncie Central which became Indiana High School State Champions that year and to Middletown in the Ohio District Finals, who were Ohio State Champions. This 1952-53 team was rated number 1 in Ohio by a large margin throughout the regular season.
Several highly ranked teams including Portsmouth, Cincinnati Western Hills, Columbus East, and Springfield high schools, were defeated by the Tigers. This team had a potent offense, averaging 65.1 points per game and an equally impressive defense, limiting their opponents to 45.1 points per game.
Being rated the State’s best was nothing new to Stivers basketball teams. In the preceding 36 years, Stivers had won a record eight state championships. The 1952-53 team consisted of nine already inducted Stivers Hall of Fame members, which attests to the outstanding individual athletic skills of the players.
The four seniors – Jim Morgan, Gene Millard, Vern Woods, and Dale Fairchild – brought exciting basketball to Stivers over a three year period. During that time, Stivers won two Dayton City Championships and two District Championships. The four seniors were selected to the 1953 Journal Herald 1st Team All-City. In addition, Jim Morgan, Vern Woods, and Dale Fairchild were named to the 1953 All Ohio team.
It should be noted that these four seniors were recruited by many Division 1 colleges: Jim Morgan earned All-American honors at Louisville. Vern Woods had an outstanding college career at Pikeville Kentucky College. Gene Millard captained the Ohio State Buckeyes under Coach Floyd Stahl, a former Stivers coach.
Dale Fairchild played one year at the University of Dayton, but then entered military service. Also, junior Jack Harner has been called the greatest basketball player in Wilmington College history. Dillis Lee was for several years, one of the leading scorers in local AAU League playing for N.C.R. He was a charter inductee into the AAU Basketball Hall of Fame.